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Japan's castles and temples to host period re-enactments

Events will highlight historic episodes and traditional customs

A gagaku play is performed at Ninomaru Palace inside Kyoto's Nijo Castle in October 2016.

TOKYO -- Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs has decided to expand a program to promote events in which cultural assets such as temples and castles are used to re-enact historical events and traditional customs.

The program is aimed at giving people opportunities to experience the past by, for example, wearing period costumes as they role-play in performances depicting key episodes of Japanese history.

The goal is to make cultural assets more interesting and lure foreign tourists, whose numbers the government is trying to increase.

The program -- dubbed "Living History" -- aims to promote inbound tourism. The agency has earmarked funding in its fiscal 2019 draft budget to subsidize entities organizing events.

Subsidies will be available for events such as re-enacting daimyo gyoretsu, or processions of feudal lords. The agency wants organizers to study ancient documents carefully so they can realistically recreate actual events and customs.

The program was inspired by the success of a 2016 event that the national government and the municipality of Kyoto held at the city's Ninomaru Palace inside Nijo Castle. The event re-enacted a visit by Emperor Go-Mizunoo some 400 years ago and its subsequent celebration. Performances by a costumed cast included gagaku, or ancient court music, kemari, a game in which players kick a ball while trying to keep it in the air, and nohgaku traditional theater.

The number of spectators to the event was limited to 1,000 but many more tried to obtain seats, according to a Kyoto city official.

The agency plans to ask entities eligible for financial support in fiscal 2019 to collect fees from tourists and other participants to improve the events.

"We must increase visitor satisfaction," the official said.

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