Living National Treasure


Mukobunkasai Ningenkokuho

Living National Cultural Treasure

Japan is probably, as far as I know the only country in the world which has established a system of recognition of the capability itself in the art and craft of an artist rather than in its creation. This system has been established in 1950 in order to preserve the most traditional art and craft of Japan. However it does not mean that there are living cultural treasures for every sort of art, only those who really have to be preserved are selected. Then an artist who has shown exceptional capabilities is nominated as a National living Treasure in order to maintain and transmit to the following generation is knowledge. Few are honored and generally at a very old age with this very rare title.

This system works for any type of art and also at several levels. The highest is naturally given at some one who is recognized at a national level. He received then the title of Ningen Kokuho Mukobunkazai or literally Living National Cultural Treasure, which is often symbolized as a LNT.

The second level is when an artist is recognized at Prefecture level. Similarly it does not mean that there are artists who have such title for every art and in every Prefecture. Some Prefecture have sword making, kimono or budsudan etc..

It exists also a 3rd level which is attributed by certain cities for example regarding Kutani ceramics such title is granted by Komatsu and Terai cities.

As far as Kutani ceramics are concerned there are only few painters who have succeeded in receiving such honorific titles.

Regarding National level Tokuda Yasokichi 1st was the first Kutani potter to receive the title of Living National Treasure in 1953 by the Japanese government. He was already 80 years old and died 3 years later. Only recently, his grand-son Yasokichi 3rd and also Yoshida Minori 3rd received the same award.

You find hereafter a list of Kutani painters who succeeded to reach Living Cultural Treasure level.

This list is still under construction

Potter name
Year of Title
Delivered by
Tokuda Yasokichi Yasokichi 1st 1873 - 1956 1953 国重要無形文化財保持者 National
Oda Seizan 1874 - 1960 1953 人間国宝
Tomimoto Kenkichi 1886 - 1963 1955 人間国宝
Tamura Kinsei 1896 - 1965 小松市指定無形文化財保持者 Komatsu
Sano Kosaku Eizan 1974 市指定無形文化財保持者 Terai p355
Sano kosaku Eizan 1976 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Tamura Kinsei 1896 - 1976 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Nakamura Suiko 中村 翠恒 1903- 1976 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Takeda Aritsune 1976 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Tokuda Yasokichi Yasokichi 2nd 1976 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Matsumoto Kichiji 松本 吉二 1976 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Nakajima Hideo 中嶋 Jusan (寿山) 1981 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture Terai p360
Kitade Fujio 1920 - 1985 or 90 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Asakura Isokichi Isokichi 3rd 1992
Yoshida Minori Yoshida 3rd 1932 - 1992 石川県指定無形文化財保持者 Ishikawa Prefecture
Tokuda Yasokichi Yasokichi 3rd 1933-2009 1997 国重要無形文化財保持者 National
Takagi Matsuo 1919- ? 無形文化財保持者 Terai
Yoshida Minori Yoshida 3rd 1932 - 2001 国重要無形文化財保持者 National