Tangible Cultural Properties (fine arts and crafts)

"Tangible Cultural Properties" collectively refer to cultural products with a tangible form that possess high historic, artistic, and academic value to Japan, such as structures, paintings, crafts, sculptures, calligraphic works, classical books, paleography, archaeological artifacts, and historic materials. Within this category, all objects except for structures are called "fine arts and crafts."
The national government designates especially significant Tangible Cultural Properties as Important Tangible Cultural Properties among which ones with exceptionally high cultural values from the global perspective are designated as National Treasures to ensure protection.

Fine arts and crafts

Eleven-Headed Kannon
National Treasure,
Eleven-Headed Kannon
(ink and colors on silk)
Owned by the Independent Administrative Institution,
National Institutes for Cultural Heritage
(Collection of the Nara National Museum)
The national government began to designate fine arts and crafts as cultural properties in 1897 under the Law for the Preservation of Ancient Shrines and Temples. The number of cultural properties designated by the national government under the present Act on the Protection of Cultural Properties can be found in the Numbers of Designated Cultural Properties.
The administration and restoration of a National Treasure or Important Cultural Property shall be carried out by its owner or administrative organization (the local government entity or other corporate entity recognized by the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs to appropriately administer the designated cultural property concerned). Out of the total number of works of fine arts and crafts that have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties, approximately 60% are owned by shrines and Buddhist temples.
Alterations to the existing state of designated cultural properties are prohibited without approval. The export of designated cultural properties is prohibited, except when it has been approved after being judged necessary, as in the case of an overseas exhibition. The national government extends support for the conservation and restoration of designated cultural properties by providing state subsidies and other means, whereas the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs is authorized to give instructions on their administration, restoration, public display, and other related activities.

Number of Designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties (fine arts and crafts) by Age (as of August 17, 2016)

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Age Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Kofun (tumulus) Joko (Ancient) Asuka Nara Heian Kamakura Nanbokucho Muromachi Momoyama Edo Modern Total (A)
Type
Paintings             12 160 718 132 282 128 256 49 1,737
Sculptures           123 126 1,454 735 68 92 10 17 6 2,633
Crafts       4   25 134 326 951 257 217 166 158 6 2,244
Calligraphic works/Classical books           2 203 488 584 100 74 13 49   1,513
Ancient documents           5 42 142 341 109 61 23 28   751
Archaeological artifacts 10 113 107 172   12 71 77 21 6 4 2 3   598
Historic resources             1 1 12 2 19 10 93 38 176
Total 10 113 107 176   167 591 2,648 3,362 674 749 352 604 99 9,652

Other countries

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Country East West Total
(B)
China Korea Other Total
Types Before Tang Tang Wudai Shiguo Sung/Yuan Ming/Qing Total
Age
Paintings   4 7 188 41 240 33   273   273
Sculptures 17 38   6   61 4   65 1 66
Crafts 4 28   91 27 150 46 2 198 10 208
Calligraphic works/Classical books 16 58 1 305   380 11   391 2 393
Ancient documents 1 1   6 2 10 1   11 1 12
Archaeological artifacts 23 3       26 2   28   28
Historic resources         3 3 2 2 7 15 22
Total 61 132 8 596 73 870 99 4 973 29 1,002

Total (A) + (B)

Types Total
Paintings 2,010(160)
Sculptures 2,699(131)
Crafts 2,452(253)
Calligraphic works/Classical books 1,906(225)
Ancient documents 763(60)
Archaeological artifacts 626(46)
Historic resources 198(3)
Total 10,654(878)

Note: The numbers in parentheses are National Treasures and included in the total number.

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