Registered Tangible Cultural Properties (登録有形文化財)

Registered Tangible Cultural Properties are the tangible cultural properties that are registered in the book of registration at the Agency for Cultural Affairs, in accordance with the registration system for cultural properties established under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties amended in 1996. Although only buildings were registered initially, the amendment of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties in 2004 expanded the system to include tangible cultural properties other than architectural structures. Cultural properties of the Edo Period can be candidates for registration, however most items registered were built or made in modern times (in or after the Meiji Period).

Background of the registration system for cultural properties
In addition to the conventional 'designation' system for cultural properties, the 'registration' system was established under the 1996 amendment to Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. In Japan after the Second World War, one effect of rapid urbanization was that a variety of architectural structures built in and after the end of the Edo Period were pulled down one after another, without regard to their historical and cultural value. Following a greater appreciation of this situation, a gradually increasing number of traditional private houses from the Edo Period and Western-style buildings of modern times have been designated as national important cultural properties or as cultural properties by local governments since the late 1960s.

However, there were arguments regarding the necessity of widespread overarching protection measures with less strict stipulations, because the designation system for important cultural properties at national level had strict criteria, and was not powerful enough to preserve the rapidly decreasing number of modern buildings. For this reason, the registration system for cultural properties was established to complement the designation system for important cultural properties, and registered objects are called Registered Tangible Cultural Properties.

Properties subject to registration
The 1996 Amendment to the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties restricted the designation to only architectural structures, and excluding arts and crafts and historical written materials. The reason for this was that there was a need for urgent measures to protect properties that were in danger of being dismantled due to urbanization, land development, and changes in people's lifestyles and ways of living. A further amendment of the law in 2004 made tangible cultural property other than buildings also subject to designation.

Only tangible cultural properties that have not been designated by the nation or local public bodies can be registered, because this system is complementary to the designation system. If a property is designated as a cultural property by the nation or by a local public body after registration, the item will be deleted from the registration. If a property is designated as a cultural property by a local public body and there is a need for the implementation of measures to protect and utilize it, and also if its owner agrees, deletion can be avoided as an exceptional case.

The amendment of the law in 2004 extended the 'registration' system complementing the conventional 'designation' system to include Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties and monuments (historic sites, places of scenic beauty, and natural monuments). After Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties and monuments are registered, they are called Registered Tangible Folk Cultural Properties and Registered Monuments, respectively.

Registered Tangible Cultural Properties (Structures)
As of first of May, 2008, 6,824 architectural structures have been registered.
The registration list shows a variety of buildings are registered:

Public buildings, such as government offices, libraries, schools, and train stations

Military facilities

Buildings relating to Traditional Industry

Business facilities, such as stores, banks, inns, and hotels

Industrial buildings such as factories

Structures relating to transportation, such as tunnels, bridges, and lighthouses

Structures relating to modernization, such as dams and water gates

Religious structures, such as temples, shrines, and churches

Private houses, fountains (both for drinking water and for daily use)

Many of these registered items are both being preserved and utilized as shops and hotels, or open to the public as museums or archives of historical resources.

Registered Tangible Cultural Properties (Arts and crafts)
The amended 'Standard for Registration of Tangible Cultural Properties' (notified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) defines which tangible cultural property relating to arts and crafts are suitable for registration. According to the standard, a property must satisfy all of the following conditions for registration: having been historically and systematically preserved; having been systematically and exhaustively collected, or having existed as a collection; and having cultural-historic, academic, and historical value.

The following four items were registered in the first registration on March 30, 2006 (the official notice was on March 31):

Arita Porcelain (SHIBATA Collection): 10,311 items (the Saga Prefectural Kyushu Ceramic Museum)
Archaeological artifacts
Hida Area archaeological materials collected by Nakashi EMA: 9,524 items (Fudoki-no-oka Learning Center, Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture)
Historical materials
Architectural educational materials (formerly stored by the Architecture Laboratory, Engineering Department, Kyoto Imperial University): 2,653 items (Kyoto University)
Picture-story show materials: 5,652 items (Miyagi Prefectural Library)

The following two items were registered in the second registration on March 7, 2008:

Classical books and ancient manuscripts
Matsubara Bunko (Buddhist manuscripts collected by Kyojo MATSUBARA): 1,090 items (Todai-ji Temple)
Historical materials
Industrial and technological materials (collected by Nihon Institute of Technology): 178 items (Nihon Institute of Technology)

[Original Japanese]