Noh is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama performed exclusively by men with recitative chants (called "Yokyoku") and a small orchestra (a flute and 3 drums only) accompanying the play. It is unique in its slow grace and its use of elaborate masks. Originating in dramatic performances at religious festivals in the 14th century, the present form of Noh was developed in the Muromachi Period by Kan'ami and his son, Zeami under the patronage of the Ashikaga clan.
Noh continued to flourish in the Edo Period (17th to 19th century) under the patronage of feudal lords throughout Japan and became the preferred entertainment of the samurai.
Following the Meiji restoration, Noh gradually lost its popularity as the samurai became less influential in society. Nowadays, Noh is again regaining its popularity and a growing number of people from home and abroad are showing interest.
Being made of wood, the Noh stage is very different from other stages. It has an extension from a central main stage which is used by actors as a side stage. Very few stage settings are used although there is always a pine tree painted on the back wall of the stage.
Takigi-noh is a special Noh performed on an outdoor stage. Here, takigi (firewood) is placed at each corner of the stage. Then after dusk, the takigi is lit. Profound and beautiful, Takigi-noh leaves a deep impression that makes it very popular among foreigners.
Kyogen (Japanese Traditional Play) and Nenbutsu Kyogen
Kyogen is a form of traditional theater. It was performed along with Noh as an intermission of sorts between Noh acts and retains close links to Noh in modern times. However, its content is not at all similar to the formal, symbolic, and solemn Noh theater. Kyogen is comical in form, and its primary aim is to make the audience laugh.
Nenbutsu Kyogen is a unique Buddhist play performed without dialog.
The following are places to view these traditional plays.
* Date: June 1-2
* Time: 5:30pm to 9pm
* Place: Heian-jingu Shrine
* Access: 10-minute walk from "Higashi-yama" Station on the Tozai Subway Line. 15-minute walk from Keihan Railway Sanjo Station
* Tel: 075-771-6114
* TO Kanze school Price: 3300 yen
* Date: February, April, and October
* Place: Mibu-dera Temple
* Address: Boujo-bukko-ji kita-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
* Tel.: 075-841-3381
* Access: 10-minute walk from Hankyu Railway Omiya Station
* Website: http://www.mibudera.com/eng/index.html
* e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Various Noh and Kyogen plays are held periodically at Kawamura Noh Play Theater
* Address: 14-320 Yanagizushi-cho Kamidachiuruagaru, Karasuma, Kamijo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
* Access: 150m walk north from Exit No.2 at Imadegawa Station on the Karasuma Subway Line
* Tel: 075-722-8717