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National Treasures of Japan
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:23 am Back to top

Japanese enjoy rating things, and especially their natural sceneries and historical monuments.

The most appreciated spots are probably those registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, a total of 14 sites in Japan (as in 2007). There is also a tentative list of candidates Japan would like to see added to the UNESCO list in the future.

National Parks (国立公園, Kokuritsu Kōen) are also important protected sites in Japan. This post lists the National Parks in Japan. There are 29 of them, covering 20,482 km² (which corresponds to 5.4% of the land area). They should not be confused with Quasi-National Parks (国定公園, Kokutei Kōen, lit. Nationally designated parks), which are less protected - and therefore ranked lower by most Japanese tourists. There are still 56 of them, covering 13,328 km² or 3.6% of the total land.

We won't talk here about the "The three best xxxxx in Japan" - you will find this oversimplified classification virtually for anything, including views, onsen (with 3 different lists of the "three bests"), garden, festivals...

This thread is about something different : National Treasures of Japan (国宝, kokuhō).

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology designates the most famous of the nation's cultural properties as National Treasures. Those are of three types :

  • Structures : 213 buildings such as castles, temples, shrines

    Examples of structures :

    Himeji castleItsukushima ShrineNikko ToshoguTodai-ji temple

  • Arts and Crafts : 860 paintings, scrolls, sutras, works of calligraphy, statues, pottery, lacquer ware, swords, textiles, archeological and historical artifacts

  • Living National Treasure (人間国宝, Ningen Kokuhō) : masters of crafts such as woodblock printing (ukiyo-e), papermaking, swordsmithing and pottery, or masters of performance traditions such as bunraku, kabuki, and various matsuri (festival) performance traditions - a little more than 100 persons have been granted this honor since 1950

Most of the structures registered as National Treasures are located in Nara-ken (64), Kyoto-fu (48 ) and Shiga-ken (22). A large fractions of the art and craft pieces are nowadays stored in museums, which explains why they are found mostly in Tokyo (233), Kyoto (204) and Nara (143).

There is another list for buildings and are works that did not make it to the first list: thousands of art works and buildings that are considered of lesser importance are enlisted as Important Cultural Properties (重要文化財, jūyō bunka zai).

written with the help of some wikipedia articles.

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