Despite being well aware that the words would be unfathomable, and the story even less clear, I’ve always wanted to attend a Noh performance; the masks in particular, and also the mood created by the torchlight if it’s done traditionally, undoubtedly creating an incredible spectacle. Certainly not one to be easily forgotten, that’s for sure.
Seeing a Noh performer practicing in the sunshine, and sadly sans mask, on the other hand, obviously can’t match such ideals, but nevertheless, it’s still a mesmerising sight.
His rather maudlin singing.
Along with the natural elements of the stage.
And its natural looking ones.
All making for a unique, as well as very private.
Interesting. Where is this?? Did you just stumble upon him practicing, or was this something scheduled. I used to translate Noh plays from the classical Japanese and have seen my fair share of performances, including open-air ones (called takigi no è–ªèƒ½ï¼‰.
It was at Takeda Shrine in Kofu. A friend and I decided to head west, and that’s where we ended up. And luckily, as we got to the shrine, the man was there, practicing. Incredible timing really.
That’s fascinating that you used to translate Noh plays. You don’t do it anymore then?
If I remember correctly, my favourite writer on Japan, Alan Booth, came here to be involved with Noh in some capacity, but he got disillusioned with. I can’t remember which book it was mentioned in, but something along the lines of him feeling it had become a museum piece in many ways, rather than a living and breathing art form.
Are the open-air performances as stunning as I imagine they would be?
I still read classical Japanese – mostly poetry – but nowadays just for personal pleasure instead of research purposes. So, unfortunately I’m not really involved in the study of Noh texts anymore 🙁
Alan Booth, yes… you see, the point with Noh (both “indoors” and “outdoors”) is, sometimes the magic is there, and sometimes it’s not. It is very hard to explain this in words. There have been performances where I have fallen asleep within ten minutes, and ones where I have been sitting on the tip of my chair for hours. When a performance is done in the open air, of course there are issues with sound resonance, which will be poor as compared in an acoustically well-designed theater. But there is the plus of the (usually beautiful) surroundings, which become part of the stage. One especially nice example I recall was a takigi performance with the sea and mountains of a Kyushu national park in the background (see the picture in my blog’s header).
On a separate note… I’m not too fond overall of Yukio Mishima, but I do highly recommend his “Five Modern No Plays”.
Cheers for the recommendation.
That’s really interesting. Amazing how different performances can be. And I can only imagine how fantastic the Kyushu National Park performance must have been. What a backdrop!
Tiger Chanter says
It is still very intriguing!
Yes, I was really lucky to see it. If we’d arrived a little bit later, we’d have missed him completely.
Always a pleasure when you post with audio. Adds a whole other dimension. 🙂 Thank you.
Cheers Lizzy. I wish I could do them more often to be honest, as I really like the atmosphere the audio adds.