Fri, Dec 18, 2020

Japanese architectural craftsmanship added to UNESCO intangible heritage list

Traditional coloring (Courtesy of Agency for Cultural Affairs)
By Shinya Yamada / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

PARIS — UNESCO is adding Japan’s traditional wooden architectural techniques to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The U.N. agency’s Intergovernmental Committee decided Thursday to register “Traditional skills, techniques and knowledge for the conservation and transmission of wooden architecture in Japan” as Japan’s 22nd entry on the intangible heritage list.

The committee unanimously approved the recommendation for registration made by UNESCO’s evaluation body in November.

The registration comprises 17 skills related to conservation, restoration and ornamental aspects, transmitted over the years by artisans such as Japanese shrine and temple carpenters and sakan plasterers.

The skills, techniques and knowledge include roofing with Japanese cypress bark and thatching, the production of Japanese walls using earth and plaster, and harvesting of the saps of lacquer trees for Japanese urushi varnish.

All of these techniques are indispensable to the preservation of valuable wooden structures, with 14 organizations safeguarding and passing down the skills as “Selected Preservation Techniques.”

The intergovernmental committee meeting, which was held online due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, evaluated the knowledge and skills related to the preserving and passing down of wooden architecture.

On UNESCO’s inscription summary is written that this heritage “serves a social function by fostering cooperation and social cohesion and strengthens Japanese people’s sense of cultural identity.”

The registration of Intangible Cultural Heritage is a system to protect aspects such as performing arts, rituals and craftsmanship that “promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.”

Among the list from Japan are noh, kabuki, washoku Japanese cuisine and washi Japanese paper.

(From The Japan News)

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