Christmas came early for Japan this year since on December 1st 2016 UNESCO declared that 33 individual float festivals throughout the country would be registered as intangible cultural heritage! Congratulations!
UNESCO has registered over 300 cultural heritage landmarks around the word, and around 20 of them are Japanese. Currently registered intangible cultural heritage articles from Japan include: Kabuki and Noh Theatre, the practices of certain traditional dances and fabric making. There are now hopes to place ‘Washoku’ or Japanese cooking on the list, as well as traditional Japanese New Year’s celebrations.
Festivals from all over Japan are included in the listing, with festivals from Akita, Saitama, Gifu, Fukuoak, Hakata and Takayama, and others.
Each of the festivals feature elaborate floats created and decorated by local residents in the hopes that their communities will be prosperous and free from natural disasters. Some of the floats need over 50 people to help carry them and weigh up to 1000 kilos!
Takayama’s most famous Matsuris celebrate people’s hopes for a healthy growth of plants and livestock in October and the harvest’s delivery in April.
Don’t forget to see the Takayama Matsuri Museum (Matsuri no Mori). It’s open all year so you have the opportunity to see the floats even if it’s not Matsuri Season.