Intangible cultural properties (無形文化財)
The term "intangible cultural properties"
generally means intangible cultural products produced by human cultural activities in a broad sense.
In a narrow sense, it means intangible cultural products such as music and applied arts, which belong to one category of cultural properties specified by the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties of Japan or ordinances of local public bodies. In particular, it means 'intangible cultural properties' provided by Article 2, Paragraph 1, Item (2) of the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties.
In this article, above 2 is described in detail.
Article 2, Paragraph 1, Item (2) of the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties defines 'intangible cultural properties' as art and skill employed in drama, music and applied arts, and other intangible cultural products which possess a high historical and/or artistic value in and for Japan. Similarly, some ordinances of local public bodies specify 'intangible cultural properties' as one category of cultural properties.
The Act on Protection of Cultural Properties stipulates a protection system in which among intangible cultural properties, important intangible cultural properties and 'intangible cultural properties requiring special measures such as the creation of records' are selected and holders or holder groups of the designated properties are recognized and protected.
Important intangible cultural properties (Article 71, Paragraph 1): The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology may designate important items of intangible cultural properties as 'important intangible cultural properties.'
The Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs may, whenever he deems it necessary for preservation of important intangible cultural properties, take measures for creation of records of important intangible cultural properties and training of successors and other appropriate measures required for preservation thereof.
Holders or holder groups of important intangible cultural properties (Article 71, Paragraph 2): The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology shall, in making the designation of important intangible cultural properties, recognize the holders or holder groups of such important intangible cultural properties. Forms of recognition of holders include individual recognition in which each individual holder is recognized, and collective recognition in which two or more individuals are recognized as one holder group. Although a person individually recognized as a holder of an important intangible cultural property is called Living National Treasure commonly and by Japan's national government, this term is not specified by laws.
Intangible cultural properties requiring measures such as creation of records (Article 77): The Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs may take measures for creation of records, preservation and publication of items which he selects among intangible cultural properties as particularly requiring such measures, other than those designated as important intangible cultural properties. Although such items are commonly called "selected intangible cultural properties," the term is not defined by laws.
Protection by local public bodies
Each local public body institutes regulations for protection of cultural properties to select intangible cultural properties important for the body, other than important intangible cultural properties designated by the national government, and designates such properties as 'Intangible Cultural Properties Designated by Prefecture' or 'Intangible Cultural Properties Designated by Municipality.'