Category Archives: Noh

‘Introduction to Noh theatre’ begins at Impact Hub Kyoto this Spring

‘Introduction to Noh theatre’ by The International Noh Institute (INI) is a 6-session course at Impact Hub Kyoto, aimed at Kyoto residents, exchange students, or any other English-speaker who would like to take a closer look at Noh theatre’s tradition.

noh limits

Details at the LINK!

鸚鵡小町 – Ōmu Komachi at the Ōe Noh Theatre on Sept 15th

Today we have a guest post from Itsuko Nakamura,

Noh flyer (Medium)
Meet Ono-no-Komachi, one of the Six Poetic Geniuses who lived in 8th century Kyoto, brought back to life by the most highly acclaimed Noh actors of today on Kyoto’s oldest Noh stage!

Noh, the oldest musical drama of Japan, has been continuously performed for over 650 years (and has been designated as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO.) Enjoy its sophisticated aesthetics, stunning masks, gorgeous costumes, lyric dance and breathtakingly intense musical accompaniment.

Ōmu Komachi (Komachi’s Parrot-Answer Poem)

September 15th, 2014 at the Ōe Noh Stage
(on Oshikoji street between Tominokoji and Yanaginobanba streets)
Doors: 1:30 p.m.
Show: 2:00 p.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (approximately 3 hours)

Tickets: 8,000 yen (B-seats); 7,000 (C-seats); 6,000 (D-seats, non-reserved seats)
For the seating diagram, please refer to:
www.senuhima.com/senuhima/zuo_xi_biao915_reserved.html
For reservations and more information contact: 5th[at]senuhima.com

Description:
In her old age, the famous Heian poet Ono no Komachi lives in Sekidera, a temple at the border-pass between the capital and Otsu on Lake Biwa. Emperor Yōzei sends Major Counselor Yukiie to enquire sympathetically how she is. His poem ends: “mishi tamadare no uchi ya yukashisa” (Was not life enchanting there / within the jewelled curtains?). Yukiie delivers the Emperor’s poem, but Komachi tells him that she will answer with just one word. To the courtier’s astonishment, she explains how this is possible by changing “ya” to “zo,” so that the answer reads: “How enchanting life was there!” [Roy E. Teele translation]. This, she explains is an “ōmu-gaeshi” (“parrot-answer poem”). The rest of the play touches on the comments made about Komachi’s poetry in the preface to the Kokinwakashū. She describes a dance by the poet Ariwara no Narihira, then dances herself. Yukiie takes his leave and Komachi returns to her simple brushwood dwelling by the temple, her sleeves wet with tears.
Global Performing Arts Database, Cornell University
http://www.glopad.org/pi/en/record/piece/1000345

Noh by Torchlight – Takigi Noh

I just got tickets for the torchlight Takigi Noh performance at Heian Jingu this Sunday. Since March Mewby and I have been occasionally attending Noh performances at the Kanze Kaikan. Noh is of course notorious for sending people off to sleep, but our experience is that if you have a script to read along then it can be enthralling. Fortunately I was able to find the scripts for three of Sunday’s plays, Takasago, Matsukaze, and Shakkyō on the能.com. This will be our first time to try Takigi Noh so I’m quite excited!

kyoto-takiginoh65
Here’s what John Dougill wrote about Takigi Noh on this very blog back in 2010:

For many people Noh is a turn-off. The plays have no conflict, no humour and no facial expression. Actors move at a snail’s pace, the language is arcane and the music archaic. To its detractors it’s simply an outmoded relic of medieval times. Noh way, Noh thank you.

There are regular performances in Kyoto, and if you attend you’ll find a good number of the audience asleep. One top performer told me he would do the same if he were watching rather than on stage! It’s very much an acquired taste, for knowledge is needed of the crafts and skills to truly appreciate them. The types of play and their ethereal nature, for example. The stately movement of the actors. The exquisite quality of the costumes. The almost sacred nature of the masks. The musical form. It’s an art form for connoisseurs.

Once a year, however, Kyoto offers an opportunity to enjoy Noh in a different light, when an outdoor show in the atmospheric surrounds of the Heian Shrine brings the plays to life in spectacular style. With over 3000 expectant people packed into the courtyard, the event begins in daylight with robed figures gliding towards an open stage accompanied by the peculiar ‘ya-oh’ chants of a drummer and the piercing sound of a flute.

At 6.30 priests emerge to light the braziers and as darkness descends, the illuminated shrine buildings provide a decorative backdrop. A rustling of the curtain and a masked figure enters, dressed in the most gorgeous of robes. In the deepening darkness the effect is eerie. The visual splendour, the ethereal music, the rising moon over the eastern hills combine to produce a sense of theatrical wonder.

With its masks, chorus, music and all-male cast, Noh is sometimes compared to the drama of ancient Greece. Viewed at the Heian Shrine, however, it has something of the great religious dramas of South-east Asia, such as the Balinese beach performances of the Ramayana. The event started as a revival of an older tradition and has been held every year since 1949. It proved such a success that it spawned some two hundred similar events around Japan. Why not give it a go? You might have thought you weren’t the type to go to Noh, but I can guarantee this is one performance you won’t be sleeping through.

Location: Heian Jingu Shrine (may be postponed in case of rain)
Dates: June 1 (Sun), June 2 (Mon) from 5.30 to around 8:45 (Gate opens at 4.30)
Cost: Y4000 at the gate (Y3000 in advance)
Recommended to take a sweater or light jacket for later in the evening
Schedule: Different plays are scheduled for each day – you can see the schedule here: http://www.kyoto-kanze.jp/takiginoh/takiginh65-program.htm
Inquiries (in Japanese): The Kyoto Takigi-noh Office 075-771-6114

Diego Pellechia has some more details about the performances up on his site The Noh Diaries.

John Dougill is professor of British Studies at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University and the author of Kyoto: A Cultural History and In Search of the Hidden Christians. He is also a contributor to our book, Deep Kyoto: Walks.

Learn more:
Japanese Noh: Performances for the Gods
the 能.com probably has pretty much everything you need to get started with Noh drama…

Charity Noh Performance for Tohoku Disaster Relief at Kyoto Kanze Kaikan 3/11

Next week Kyoto Kanze Kaikan is holding two charity Noh performances to raise funds for victims of the 2011 Tohoku Disaster. They will be held on the morning and evening of March 11th – the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.

猩々乱

猩々乱

If you aren’t familiar with Noh, it’s best to take a script with you. There is a lot of talking in Noh plays, they are speaking medieval Japanese, and the speech patterns are very stylized, so even for native Japanese they can be hard to understand. Mewby and I went to see a couple of Noh plays at the Kanze Kaikan last weekend, but we only had a script for one of the plays. Let me tell you it makes a big difference when watching Noh, if you have a script with you to follow along with. Fortunately, translations of the scripts for both of the plays next week are available on the excellent the能.com site, with both English and modern Japanese.

Date and Times: Tuesday March 11th

10:30-12:30: The main performance  is of the Noh play Tsunemasa. You can download a translated script here: 経正

18:30-20:30: The main performance is of the Noh play Shōjō Midare. You can download a translated script here: 猩々乱

Location: Kyoto Kanze Kaikan is on the south side of Niomon Street between Higashioji and Jingu-michi. It is a 10 minute walk north from from Higashiyama Subway Station. Here is a map.

IMG_7847 (Medium)Both performances cost 1,500. They can be booked in advance at this number: 075-771-6114075-771-6114 (Japanese). However, specific seats cannot be reserved.

More details of the performances can be seen here (Japanese): http://www.kyoto-kanze.jp/performanceguide/gien-noh.htm

Traditional Theater Training Summer Program in Kyoto

Continuing the theatrical theme from my last post, here’s something I found via http://shinpaideshou.wordpress.com. As it’s a summer program and in Kyoto, the part about “air-conditioned studios” is VERY important.

mission_logo02The Traditional Theater Training Program (T.T.T.) at Kyoto Art Center invites applications to its 30th annual program, July 18-20 (orientation and overview of performing arts) and training (Jul 21-Aug 8). Master-teachers of the Kanze school noh, Okura school kyogen, and Wakayagi school of nihonbuyo classical dance offer an immersive, authentic experience to artists and scholars. Classes are in the air-conditioned studios of the Kyoto Art Center, with a costumed recital on the Oe Noh Stage. Please find information in Japanese and English.ttt_photo_00

http://www.kac.or.jp/10528/

http://www.kac.or.jp/eng/news/10528/

There are early bird and and student/artist discounts, and special rates on hotels, hopefully making this affordable to participants, Japanese and non-, from around the world.

Jonah Salz jonah[at]world.ryukoku.ac.jp Program director

http://www.world.ryukoku.ac.jp/kenkyuka/teachers/salz.html
http://kyototheatrenow.blogspot.jp/

the能.com probably has pretty much everything you need to get started with Noh drama…

Noh masks

I have been following Diego Pellecchia’s Noh blog for a couple of months now,. Diego is training with the Kongō school of Noh, here in Kyoto and his blog offers a kind of portal into that world. Wanting to learn more, last week I asked him if he could recommend any beginner’s texts as an introduction to the world of Noh. Rather than a text he recommended this website, and I have to say it’s amazing! Not only do they have a wealth of instructional materials and essays on there, not only do they have performance schedules for all of Japan, not only do they have printable texts of the plays in both English & Japanese (new ones added each month!) which you can bring to performances, not only do they have a database of the masks used in performances, but (!) as I have just discovered, they also have photo-stories. Photo-Stories!
I have to say a big thank you, Diego! the能.com is a treasure!

Noh photostories

See also:
Japanese Noh Theater – An introductory essay by Ian Ropke
Takigi Noh (Noh by Firelight) – An annual June event at Heian Jingu Shrine
Diego Pellechia’s blog: http://nohtheatre.wordpress.com/
The International Noh Institute: http://www.noh-udaka.com/