Intangible Cultural Properties (無形文化財 mukei bunkazai?) as defined by the Japanese government's Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, are Cultural Properties[note 1] of high historical or artistic value such as drama, music, and craft techniques. The term refers exclusively to human skills possessed by individuals or groups which are indispensable to produce Cultural Properties.[1]

Items of particular importance can be designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties (重要無形文化財 jūyō mukei bunkazai?).[1] Recognition is also given to the owners of an item to encourage its transmission.[2] There are three types of recognition: individual recognition, collective recognition, and group recognition. Special grants of two million yen a year are given to individual holders (the so-called National Living Treasures[2]) to help protect their properties. The government also contributes part of the expenses incurred either by the holder of an Intangible Cultural Property during training of his successor, or by a recognized group for public performances.[2]

To promote the understanding, and therefore the transmission across generations, of Cultural Properties, exhibitions concerning them are organized. The government through the Japan Arts Council also holds training workshops and other activities to educate future generations of noh, bunraku, and kabuki personnel.[2]

See also


  1. In this article, capitals indicate an official designation as opposed to a simple 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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties" (PDF). Administration of Cultural Affairs in Japan ― Fiscal 2009. Agency for Cultural Affairs. 2009. 

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