Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Dainichido Bugaku
According to legend, travelling performers of bugaku, the ritual dance and music of the imperial palace, visited Hachimantai Town in northern Japan in the early eighth century, during the reconstruction of Dainichido, the shrine pavilion. The ritual performance of Dainichido Bugaku takes its name from this story, but the art evolved considerably since, reflecting local features as elders transmitted it to the young within each of the four local communities of Osato, Azukisawa, Nagamine and Taniuchi. On the second day of each year, the 2 January, the people of these communities proceed from dedicated sites to the shrine, where they perform nine sacred dances from dawn to noon as a prayer for happiness in the New Year. Some of the dances involve masks (including the imaginary lion-like shishi of myths), others include child dancers, reflecting variations among the four groups. The practice deepens the sense of affiliation with the local community, for both the participants and the many residents who come to observe the tradition each year. Although the Dainichido Bugaku was interrupted for nearly six decades in the late eighteenth century, the people of Hachimantai take great pride in the restored tradition, which is the spiritual core of their solidarity.
Decision 4.COM 13.49
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: Dainichido Bugaku has been passed from elders to the young of its four local communities and provides them a sense of identity and continuity, reflecting Japanese artistic and social characteristics;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would contribute to raising awareness about the importance of intangible cultural heritage at the national and international levels, which would motivate the bearers to continue its transmission, while promoting respect for other similar traditions elsewhere;
- R.3: Safeguarding will be carried out by the Association for the Preservation of Dainichido Bugaku with support from national, prefectural and city governments, through measures such as training successors, audio-visual recordings and supporting festive events;
- R.4: The nomination provides evidence of the consent of the Association for the Preservation of Dainichido Bugaku established by the four communities transmitting the element;
- R.5: The element is inscribed as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property on the national inventory maintained by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website