File:Sankeien Rinshunkaku 2.jpg

Important Cultural Properties of Japan (重要文化財 jūyō bunkazai?, important cultural properties)[note 1] are items officially already classified as Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs and judged to be of particular importance to the Japanese people.[1]

Classification of Cultural Properties

To protect Japan's cultural heritage, the country's government has established with the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties a "designation system" (指定制度?) under which it selects important items and designates them as Cultural Properties[note 2], imposing restrictions to their alteration, repair and export.[1]

Besides the "designation system", there exists a "registration system" (登録制度?), which guarantees a lower level of protection and support to Registered Cultural Properties. For details, see the article Cultural Properties of Japan.

Cultural Properties are classified according to their nature. Items designated as Tangible Cultural Properties (as opposed to for example Intangible Cultural Properties), for example cultural products of high historical or artistic value such as structures, paintings, sculptures, handicrafts, calligraphic works, ancient books, historic documents, archeological artifacts and other such items, can later, if they satisfy certain criteria, be designated either Important Cultural Properties or National Treasures (国宝?), for especially valuable items.

The designation can take place at a city (市定重要文化財 city designated Important Cultural Property?), prefectural (県定重要文化財 prefecturally designated Important Important Cultural Property?) or national (国定重要文化財 nationally designated Important Cultural Property?) level. (In this last case the designating agency is often not specified.)

Designations of a different level can coexist. For example, Sankei-en, a traditional Japanese-style garden in Naka Ward, Yokohama, owns both city designated and nationally designated Important Cultural Properties.[2]

Some Important Cultural Properties of Japan


  1. The term is often shortened into just jūbun (重文?)
  2. In this article, capitals indicate an official designation as opposed to a simple, unofficial definition, e.g "Cultural Properties" as opposed to "cultural properties".


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Cultural Properties for Future Generations" (PDF). Administration of Cultural Affairs in Japan ― Fiscal 2009. Agency for Cultural Affairs. 2007-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. Yokohama Sankei Garden, Sankei-en's official site accessed on November 3, 2009 (in Japanese)

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