National Treasure (Japan)
Most precious of Tangible Cultural Properties / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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A National Treasure (国宝, kokuhō) is the most precious of Japan's Tangible Cultural Properties, as determined and designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (a special body of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). A Tangible Cultural Property is considered to be of historic or artistic value, classified either as "buildings and structures" or as "fine arts and crafts." Each National Treasure must show outstanding workmanship, a high value for world cultural history, or exceptional value for scholarship.
Approximately 20% of the National Treasures are structures such as castles, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, or residences. The other 80% are paintings; scrolls; sutras; works of calligraphy; sculptures of wood, bronze, lacquer or stone; crafts such as pottery and lacquerware carvings; metalworks; swords and textiles; and archaeological and historical artifacts. The items span the period of ancient to early modern Japan before the Meiji period, including pieces of the world's oldest pottery from the Jōmon period and 19th-century documents and writings. The designation of the Akasaka Palace in 2009, the Tomioka Silk Mill in 2014 and of the Kaichi School added three modern, post-Meiji Restoration, National Treasures.
Japan has a comprehensive network of legislation for protecting, preserving, and classifying its cultural patrimony. The regard for physical and intangible properties and their protection is typical of Japanese preservation and restoration practices. Methods of protecting designated National Treasures include restrictions on alterations, transfer, and export, as well as financial support in the form of grants and tax reduction. The Agency for Cultural Affairs provides owners with advice on restoration, administration, and public display of the properties. These efforts are supplemented by laws that protect the built environment of designated structures and the necessary techniques for restoration of works.
Kansai, the region of Japan's capitals from ancient times to the 19th century, has the most National Treasures; Kyoto alone has about one in five National Treasures. Fine arts and crafts properties are generally owned privately or are in museums, including national museums such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara, public prefectural and city museums, and private museums. Religious items are often housed in temples and Shinto shrines or in an adjacent museum or treasure house.