10 Japanese rituals added to UNESCO heritage list

10 Japanese rituals added to UNESCO heritage list

Ten Japanese traditional events involving costume-wearing deities will now be recognized as part of the world's cultural heritage.

A UNESCO committee decided to add the rituals to its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The traditions are held in different parts of Japan. They feature people wearing masks and costumes depicting deities from Japanese folklore.

The supernatural beings are said to visit communities to usher in the New Year or new seasons by bringing happiness and good luck.

One of the best known is Namahage of the northern prefecture of Akita.

Scary-looking deities go house to house to drive away bad luck and warn children not to be lazy.

The rituals join a growing list of traditional Japanese cultural practices recognized by UNESCO, including Kabuki theatre and handmade washi paper.