Important Cultural Properties

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Sign at Kan'ei-ji in Tokyo, bearing the Bunkachô logo, and identifying the site as containing Important Cultural Properties.
  • System Established: 1950
  • Japanese: 重要文化財 (juuyou bunkazai)

In 1950, the Japanese government created a new system of cultural heritage, dividing the category of National Treasures - the top tier of sites and objects designated as being of exceptional cultural and historical importance - into an upper tier of National Treasures and a lower tier of Important Cultural Properties.

Important Cultural Properties are more numerous than National Treasures, and are generally considered to be of somewhat less considerable cultural or historical importance. There are currently approximately 12,821[1] objects & structures registered as Important Cultural Properties, identified by the Bunkachô (Agency for Cultural Affairs) logo, a stylized impression of a pair of hands holding up roof tiles.[2]

Selected List of Important Cultural Properties


Miyagi Prefecture

Ishikawa Prefecture

Chiba Prefecture


Symphony Hall of the Tokyo Music School
"Spring and Autumn Flowering Grasses," folding screens, by Sakai Hôitsu (Tokyo National Museum)
Kanô Hôgai, Kannon as Compassionate Mother (Hibo Kannon), 1883. Freer Gallery of Art[3]
The Karamon gate of Ueno Tôshôgû

Kanagawa Prefecture

A view of Sankeien in Yokohama, with the pagoda visible in the distance

Shizuoka Prefecture

Aichi Prefecture

The southeast corner tower at Nagoya castle

Shiga Prefecture

  • Hikone castle - various buildings, including Ninomaru Sawaguchitamon-yagura and stables (umaya). Main tenshu is a National Treasure.
  • Hôshû-kai, Takatsuki Town - various documents and paintings associated with Amenomori Hôshû[6]

Nara Prefecture

Kyoto Prefecture

Windows of the upper story of Clarke Memorial Hall at Dôshisha University
Pagoda at Ninna-ji, Kyoto

Osaka Prefecture

Okayama Prefecture

Hiroshima Prefecture

The Ôta family house (left) and Chôsôtei (right) in Tomonoura

Ehime Prefecture

Kôchi Prefecture

  • Kôchi castle: a number of buildings, including the tenshu, Kaitokukan (shoin-zukuri style daimyô residence), East and West tamon yagura, Kokutetsu-mon, Kurogane-mon, and Roka-mon gates.

Fukuoka Prefecture

The ichi-no-torii ("first gate") at Hakozaki Shrine in Fukuoka

Nagasaki Prefecture

  • Nagasaki Prefectural Research Center for History of Tsushima:

Kumamoto Prefecture

Kagoshima Prefecture

Okinawa Prefecture

  • Aragaki house and agari-nu-gama pottery kilns in Tsuboya, Naha
  • Bridge of Nations Bell - collection of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum
  • Engaku-ji - named a National Treasure in 1933; destroyed in 1945. Rebuilt gates and bridge named Important Cultural Property in 1975. Former temple bell (cast c. 1495-1496), and a 1697 recreation of that bell both survive and have both been designated.
  • Documents and objects related to the Ie udun family. Designated in 2019.
  • Ie udun tomb, Shuri
  • Collection of Kamakura Yoshitarô's photographs from his survey of Okinawan arts; held by Okinawa Prefectural University of the Arts.
  • Magiri-zu maps, held by Okinawa Prefectural Museum
  • Mekaru tombs group site (incl. Izena dunchi tomb, near Shintoshin Park, Naha)
  • Nakamura House in Nakagusuku Village
  • Sôgen-ji - designated a National Treasure in 1933; destroyed in 1945. Surviving stone walls & gates are today an Important Cultural Property.


  • Gallery labels and explanatory plaques at various sites.
  • Pamphlets available on-site.
  1. "Cultural Properties for Future Generations," Pamphlet, Agency of Cultural Affairs (2013), 2.
  2. Hyung-il Pai, AAS Roundtable, "Who Moved My Masterpiece?...Cultural Heritage of Kyoto," Association for Asian Studies annual conference, San Diego, March 23 2013.
  3. While the Freer piece seen here is permanently housed outside of Japan, and is therefore not an Important Cultural Property, an earlier version of the same work, held today by the Tokyo University of the Arts, does bear that designation.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Exhibition checklist, "Chinese Paintings from Japanese Collections," LACMA, May 10 2014.
  5. Imbrie Pavilion, Meiji Gakuin University website.
  6. Chôsen tsûshinshi to Okayama, Okayama Prefectural Museum (2007), 67-68.
  7. Chôsen tsûshinshi to Okayama, 34.