#87 – Noh

The stage

According to Wikipedia:

Noh (能 ?), or Nogaku (能楽 Nōgaku) is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. The repertoire is normally limited to a specific set of historical plays. A Noh performance often lasts all day and consists of five Noh plays interspersed with shorter, humorous kyōgen pieces.

Men dressed as ladies

They should have just said something like:

Noh, or Nogaku, is a theatrical performance of which nobody understands a single word, not even native speakers of the language in which it is performed (if indeed it is Japanese). Far from being a source of entertainment, it is rather a chore that people feel they must endure at least once in their lifetime in order to qualify as a ‘culturally educated’ Japanese. Alternatively, it can also be viewed as an chemically free and effective sleeping aid.

I went with my host family and the kids to see a performance at Ikuta Shrine. Despite being told on multiple occasions that one must research the story before attending, I obviously did no such thing. A friend came with a print out of the script in English, which I took a minute to flip through, so I had a rough gist of the story line as hard as I tried, I didn’t see any of the plot moments on the stage.

Of course, it was a little exciting to hear the classical Noh sounds you might have heard and have associated with the Orient. I myself have heard it many times playing Ninja Gaiden on Xbox.

This picture pretty much captures the average age of the audience.

If you thought the first part was tolerable, then you should wait until the second part which wasn’t much more than a bunch of guys just chanting for an hour and a half.

Overall, I didn’t understand any of it, and the novelty wore off after the first half hour, but in the end, I’m glad I went to see a Noh play at least once in my lifetime.

Also, the shrine was pretty.


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