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.
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.
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