Social milieu of 'tradition' as interstitial heritage: an example of Japanese intangible cultural heritage
by Sumiko Sarashima
International Journal of Tourism Anthropology (IJTA), Vol. 3, No. 2, 2013

Abstract: This article aims to clarify the establishment of the social milieu of 'tradition' as a means of safeguarding cultural heritage. I view this milieu as functioning through the construction of interstitial elements that interact with aspects of cultural heritage, such as 'traditional' cultural forms, their practitioners, as well as members of the public, who experience these forms as 'tradition' in the context of a modern lifestyle. By referring to Alfred Gell's art theory, I highlight the dynamic character of Japanese intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as a representation of a sphere of human activity that fits into the contemporary Japanese lifestyle. Examining its commercial, cultural and educational interactions with both the public as a whole and individual persons, I explore certain social functions - specifically, mass media, kimono as a hobby interest, and school education - that promote people's physical and visual experience of cultural forms defined as 'tradition', and thereby empower the notion of 'cultural heritage' and so facilitate the production and consumption of that 'tradition'.

Online publication date: Sun, 12-Jan-2014

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