Noh is the Japanese oldest stage performance which originates from Muromachi period. It derived from ancient music and dance dedicated to the Gods. Unlike Kabuki, Noh emphasizes ‘calmness’ and ‘stillness’ of the performance. You have to use your imagination to fully understand the meaning of performer’s subtle action and expression of the masks that they wear to immerse yourself into the world of noh.
There are a lot of noh theaters all over Japan. Here we will introduce some of the Noh theaters.
*The websites below shows the schedule and prices of all performances. The price ranges from JPY 3,000 (USD $24.94) to JPY 10,000 (USD $83.16).
Japanese Traditional Performing Arts Live
【Name】National Noh Theater
【Address】4-18-1, Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo 151-0051
【Name】Housho Noh Theater
【Address】1-5-9, Hongo, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo 113-0033
【Address】1-17-8 Tenjinbashi, Kita Ward, Osaka City, Osaka 530-0041
【Name】Yamamoto Noh Theater
【Address】1-3-6 Tokui Cho, Chuo Ward, Osaka City, Osaka 540-0025
【Name】Kyoto Kanze Hall
【Address】44, Okazaki Enshojimachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto 606-8344
【Name】Kongo Noh Theater
Karasumadoori Nakadachiuri Noboru, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto 602-0912
【Name】Ohori Park Noh Theater
【Address】1-5, Ohori Park, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka
How to enjoy
Hundred Masks, Hundred Faces
Noh performers generally wear masks to indicate the role he is playing. There are about 60 kinds of masks such as an old man, a crone, a beautiful young woman, a ghost, etc. The performer impressively changes expressions of the mask by controlling the angle of it during the play. You will see the smiling mask instantly turns into a sad face at once.
Kyogen is a comical performance played during the break of noh performance. The story is usually the summary of the noh play, or just some short comedy. Witty jokes, rhythmical language and exaggerated actions will help you to relax and be able to concentrate on the next act of noh performance.
What to watch
Traditionally, Noh performance includes five plays with kyogens plays in between the acts. Noh plays are divided into five categories, which are usually determined by theme or type of the main character. The five categories included the gods plays, warriors plays, beautiful women plays, miscellaneous plays (includes madness or present time plays), and demons plays. Here are some stories which are easy to follow-up for first-timers: ‘’Aoi no Ue’’ (‘’Lady Aoi’’), ‘’Ataka’’, ‘’Adachigahara’’ ‘’Sumidagawa’’ ‘’Tsuchigumo’’ (‘’Ground Spider’’), ‘’Dojoji Temple’’, ‘’Hagoromo’’ (‘’A Celestial Robe of an Angel’’) and ‘’Huna Benkei’’ (‘’Sailing of Benkei’’). It is advisable to check out the story of the play that you will watch in advance so you will be able fully enjoy the play.
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