The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japanese Divine Visit Rituals to Be Listed as UNESCO Heritage

October 25, 2018

Tokyo- A UNESCO panel recommended Wednesday that a set of traditional divine visit rituals in Japan be inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The listing of "raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes" is expected to be adopted formally at an intergovernmental committee meeting of the U.N. educational and cultural body in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, from Nov. 26.

The raiho-shin (visiting god) ritual series will be the 21st Japanese asset on the intangible heritage list. The latest Japanese addition, in 2016, was "yama, hoko and yatai" float festivals.

The raiho-shin series consists of 10 traditional rituals in which people disguised as god messengers visit homes to warn people against laziness, expel evil and pray for good health.

All 10 rituals are important intangible folk cultural assets designated by the Japanese government.

In 2011, the government proposed that "Oga no Namahage" (Namahage of the Oga region) in Akita Prefecture, one of the 10 rituals, be listed alone.

Its listing was not accepted due to its similarity to "Koshikijima no Toshidon" (Toshidon of the Koshikijima islands) in Kagoshima Prefecture, also among the 10 rituals, which was already on the UNESCO list.

The government then proposed that Koshikijima no Toshidon be replaced on the list by the raiho-shin series, including the already listed ritual. Jiji Press