How much do you know about Japanese festivals?
On November 30, 2016 UNESCO registered the “Kyoto Gion Festival Yama Hoko Event” which takes place in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, the “Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival” which takes place in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture that are among thirty three Japanese festivals which constitute Yama, Hoko and Yatai events as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage.
All the thirty three festivals are designated as important Japanese intangible folk cultural assets with “dashis”, floats, parading through the streets as an integral part. These floats have different names such as Yama, Hoko, Yatai and Kasa depending on the local area ,and acting as objects that divine spirits are drawn to, welcome “yorishiro”, the divine spirits, to festivals in order to pray for the area’s peace, for warding off the devils and for abundant harvests. Therefore the floats are beautifully decorated and are sculpted objects with wood carvings, Japanese lacquer, dyed textiles and woven fabric preserved by the hands of the local people.
The Japanese government has preserved the“Yama, Hoko and Yatai” through the traditional craftsmanship of wood carving and Japanese lacquer over many centuries and therefore the use of materials, labor and effort were inherited in a manner made possible without damaging the local environment. In addition to the “Yama, Hoko and Yatai”, there are numerous displays and oral traditions which constitute religious festivals and are prepared for and practiced by the local people.
The “Yama, Hoko and Yatai”events promote trans-generation conversation and interaction between large numbers of people and serve an important role in connecting communities. For the above and other reasons an application for registration as intangible cultural heritage was made in 2015.