UNESCO Approves Heritage Listing of Japan Ritual Dances

Society Culture Guide to Japan

Tokyo, Nov. 30 (Jiji Press)--An intergovernmental committee of UNESCO on Wednesday approved the inscription of Japanese “furyu-odori” ritual dances imbued with people’s hopes and prayers on the U.N. body’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The inscription of the 41 dances in 24 prefectures is the first addition to the list for Japan since 2020 when craftspeople’s techniques for repairing traditional wooden structures were added.

A common characteristic of the furyu-odori dances is that the performers wear glamorous, eye-catching costumes and dance to festival music accompanied with songs, gong-ringing and drum-beating.

They dance while praying for the end of plagues, the repose of the deceased, a good harvest or safety from disasters. The dances are diverse, reflecting the different climates, natural features and histories of each area where they are transmitted.

The intergovernmental committee said the knowledge and techniques of furyu-odori have been transmitted among schools, households and communities through preservation groups. They promote the networking of people of all generations and genders and give them a sense of belongingness to communities, it said.

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Jiji Press