Living National Treasures of Japan – Exceptional Presence at Manggha Museum

Katarzyna Nowak
(Manggha Museum, Cracow)

Living National Treasure is a title of honour conferred by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on outstanding Japanese artists creating cultural goods classified as national treasures. Under the applicable law passed in 1950, these can include non-material cultural goods, such as: gagaku, nō, bunraku, kabuki, or kumiodori – i.e. music, dance, and generally performing arts – as well as ceramics, textiles, lacquerware, metalwork, dolls, woodwork, and paper – i.e. artisan crafts. Non-material cultural goods are also unique skills represented by individuals who have attained a very high level – true mastery – in their respective fields and are in a position to sustain, promote, pass on and improve their art or craft for the sake of Japanese tradition.

Every year the Japanese Government grants valuable scholarships to support Living National Treasures in Japan and abroad. Promoting Japanese culture overseas, through the proactive operations of the Japan Foundation, embassies and other institutions, means capitalizing on Japan’s cultural potential and retaining indirect influence over the shape of its unique presence in the world.

Since its foundation, the Manggha Museum has showcased proposals of sophisticated and unique cultural phenomena. In addition to traditional and popular elements of Japanese culture, such as the tea ceremony, bonsai, or origami, we have also hosted exceptional events: isekatagami, wagashi, nō and kyogen, bunraku, kamigata, hikifuda, heike biwa, yakumogoto, bugaku-hoe, shinnai, gagaku, nihon buyō, and jiutamai; since the very outset, these presentations have featured Living National Treasures.