Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
In Yahashira Shrine of Nara City in central Japan, young men of the Kami-fukawa community stand in a semi-circle dressed in samurai clothes and carrying bows. One by one, they are called to the centre by an old man who reads the name of a character in the tales of the feud between the Genji and Heike clans. Each in turn delivers his character’s lines from memory, in a distinctive accent but without acting or musical accompaniment. When all twenty-six characters have spoken, the youths rhythmically stamp their feet and sing themselves offstage. Originally a rite of passage at the age of seventeen to mark the formal acceptance of the eldest son into the community of the twenty-two families of Kami-fukawa, the Daimokutate is now performed annually in mid-October by young men of various ages and from many different families. Indeed, since the twentieth century, the dispersion of the original twenty-two families has meant that other residents of Nara have led the effort to preserve the ceremony. Unique in Japan as a dramatic performance without acting or music, the Daimokutate is an important marker of identity and plays an indispensable role in maintaining solidarity in this mountainous town.
- Consent of communities: English
Decision 4.COM 13.48
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Recited by youths reproducing ancestral practices passed on to them, Daimokutate is a unique performing art essential to the identity of the Kami-Fukawa community of Nara;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List will strengthen the bearers and increase the number of practitioners, bringing wider attention to this example of cultural dynamism and human creativity;
- R.3: The Association for the Preservation of Daimokutate, together with local and national authorities, have elaborated safeguarding measures including documentation, research and transmission programmes;
- R.4: The element was nominated subsequent to dialogue and cooperation with the community concerned, and the nomination includes evidence of its free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: The element is inscribed as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property on the national inventory maintained by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
© 2006 by Nara Conference for Preservation of Traditional Culture
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