Hope this is the right category, first time on the forum.
Just wondering whether 国宝 means national treasure as in Stephen Fry, or as in valuable artifacts of a country. As a British English speaker, I’m much more familiar with a national treasure being a person than an object, but it seems like that might be more 人間国宝 from what I can tell Googling it.
Feel like that’s something worth clarifying in the vocab desription if it doesn’t normally mean a person.
Usually when you say 人間国宝 in Japanese you are referring to an actual system promoted by the Japanese Ministry of Culture (MEXT) which nominates people who hold immaterial cultural properties considered to be national treasures. It is usually given to people who have mastered traditional performing arts or crafts. It seems the English Wiki has a page for it, too.
That being said, I’m pretty sure given proper context, you can say stuff like あの人は本当に生きる国宝みたい
However, no Japanese will ever answer you a person’s name if you ask them to quote examples of Japanese 国宝, because that’s not the standard meaning for that word.
If you look at the japanese version it specifically says that it is focusing on the second definition in the linked dictionaries.
So what @SyncroPC said still applies with possibly using it to refer to people but used by itself the association is more to what you linked to.
Thanks all, that’s really helpful! Really appreciate the time taken to find all that info.
So it would seem it is indeed just for physical objects, any even 人間国宝 isn’t exactly “national treasure” in the sense we’d use it.
I think the Crabigator’s description could do with clarifying this point… As much as I appreciate the Nic Cage reference, if you didn’t know about the film “National Treasure”, you might assume it means national treasure as in, person.
Do mods check these forum posts, or would it be worthwhile to send an email? Or not worth bothering with? Obviously this is one of those vocab words that’s pretty niche, so I doubt if it’s going to cause anyone a real problem…
My boss was translating something to English and asked me to proofread it. The original text had “人間国宝である(person’s name)”, and she translated it as “living national treasure,” so I think 人間国宝 is okay for referring to people like Stephen Fry
I guess unless the context of the source was as per SyncroPC’s definition, that’s pretty conclusive that the 人間 variety of treasure can at least in context refer to Stephen Fry etc. Does seem in general that wouldn’t be the most common use though. Thanks.
I might ask a Japanese friend about this tomorrow, although seems a trivial thing to get hung up on lol.
Awesome to know there’s a community I can go to ask such an obscure question, and have a bunch of dedicated 日本語 otaku looking into it. ありがとうございます
Ah, it’s fun when something unrelated that I’m doing brings together multiple different threads in this forum. Last night while reading Mizuki Shigeru’s Showa (which came up in the ABBC thread), I was reminded of the Living National Treasure (i.e. this thread), kabuki actor 八代目 坂東 三津五郎, who, in 1975, went to a restaurant in Kyoto and ordered four servings of 河豚肝 (which brings in the 河豚 thead), claiming to be immune to the toxins.