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Ryukyu dance chosen for cultural asset status

Date Posted: 2009-07-23

Okinawa’s traditional Ryukyu classical dance has been granted Important Intangible Cultural Asset of Japan status by the nation’s cultural deliberation body.

The organization advised the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of the designation this week, telling Ritsu Shioya 39 individuals are certified as well. The Kumiodori, a Ryukyu classical muisical, and costume production repair have been selected as the government’s own preservation technique. The cultural group says it made the designation to the preservation association of repairs to costumes and instruments.

The decision by Japan’s highest cultural body is only the second ever made to recognize Okinawa. The first was designation 37 years a that the Kumiodori had been designated as the government’s own Important Intangible Cultural Asset. Six cases had been nominated from Okinawa as Important Intangible Cultural Assets, with Ryukyu dance getting high marks for artistic value and its historical importance in the world of Japanese entertainment. Ryukyu dance was originally created for entertainment of the Chinese envoy to the Ryukyu Kingdom,, and for the Japanese Samurai guards’ welcoming party dance in the Ryukyu Kingdom in the 16th century.

The dance flourished, and after the Meiji restoration Okinawa created dance of its own to show local life style, called Zo-odori, meaning ‘mixed with many types of dance.’ The cultural recognition also certified 39 individuals, including 14 dancers. Thirteen Sanshin players and singers were recognized, along with seven koto players, one Kokyo three-string violin player, two flute players and two taiko drummers.

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