As part of its Japan Heritage program, the Agency for Cultural Affairs recognizes stories that communicate Japanese traditions and culture through the historical appeal and distinctive characteristics of various regions. The program was created in 2015 to facilitate regional development by actively utilizing the tangible and intangible cultural properties that serve as the basis for those stories. A total of 37 such stories have been recognized to date, including “Living with Whales” (as of November 30, 2016).
Famous for the Black Current, the Kumano Sea, which sparkles in the warm sunlight of its southern climate, has been home to whales since ancient times. Eventually humans living in the area came to hunt them, even as they respected and revered the gigantic creatures. At the same time, they valued the whales more than anyone, with the result that this story of whales and people was spun in the southern ocean.