Japanese Divine Visit Rituals OK'd for UNESCO Listing

Culture Society

Tokyo, Nov. 29 (Jiji Press)--UNESCO has decided to add a set of traditional divine visit rituals in Japan to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs said on Thursday.

The registration of "raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes" was decided at a meeting of an intergovernmental committee of the U.N. educational and cultural body in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.

The raiho-shin (visiting god) ritual series is the 21st Japanese intangible cultural asset to make it onto the UNESCO list. Japan won the last listing, of "yama, hoko and yatai" traditional float festivals, in 2016.

The raiho-shin series comprises a total of 10 traditional events in eight prefectures, including "Oga no Namahage" (Namahage of the Oga region) in Akita and "Miyakojima no Paantou" (Paantou of Miyakojima island) in Okinawa.

In the events, disguised god messengers visit local homes on days that mark the beginning of the year or when the seasons change to warn people against laziness, expel evil and pray for good health.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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