Japanese traditional “Furyu-odori” folk dances were added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage after being approved by a committee of the United Nations Cultural Organization.

The 41 regional dances, which date back to the Middle Ages, have been passed down through the generations and are now performed by communities to honor their ancestors, ask for prosperous harvests or rain, or seek protection from natural disasters.

The summer “Bon Odori,” one of the dances from 24 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, is accompanied by flutes and drums and features bright costumes and props.

In a statement, Yoshimasa Hayashi, the foreign minister of Japan, expressed his hope that Furyu-odori’s inclusion on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites would “lead to renewed public awareness” of the allure of the country’s interior.

He continued by saying that he would keep up all of his efforts to spread the word about them.

The evaluation panel of the organization had previously recommended the Furyu-odori dances to the Intergovernmental Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as a means of fostering regional communication and exchanges as well as serving as a symbol of cultural diversity.

The Japanese government has designated them as an important intangible cultural property.

Previously approved Japanese heritages by the Paris-based UNESCO include the performing arts of Noh and Kabuki, as well as centuries-old architectural craftsmanship used in timber-framed structures.

Sourced from KyodoNews