As a country with a rich cultural history, Japan is widely known for its beautiful theatrical arts. One of the most famous forms of theater in Japan is known as “Noh”. The stories used in Noh are derived from traditional literature, and masks, costumes, and various props are used to bring these stories to life. Dance is also an important component of a Noh performance.
As a Noh performance can be formal and solemn at times, Kyogen are done during intermissions to provide some comical relief. The best place to watch Noh and Kyogen is at the National Noh Theater in Tokyo, which is only a 5-minute walk from Sendagaya Station.
In the past, Noh performances were typically staged outdoors, but recently modern indoor theaters have become more popular. Noh is performed on a square stage with a roof that is supported by pillars at the corners. The back of the stage is painted with the image of a pine tree while the other three sides are open. A bridge runs off the stage, this is the place where the performers enter.
The comic pieces which are performed in-between Noh are called Kyogen. They use satire and witty jokes and oftentimes use rhythmical language and exaggerated actions. Plots are often based on stories of everyday life, and last for around 15 to 20 minutes.
The National Noh Theater opened in Sendagaya (in the famous Shibuya district of Tokyo) in September 1983, and is run by the Japan Arts Council. Inside there is a big auditorium which is mainly used for public performances, and there are 591 seats. The stage was built from 400-year-old bishu-hinoki cypress trees, this is the same timber that is used for building some of Japan’s shrines. Each seat has a personal subtitling system which can be changed from English to Japanese or vice-versa with the touch of a button.
Within the building, you can find a Rehearsal Noh Stage, Exhibition Room, Large Lecture Room, Reading Room and an Audio Visual Corner. The Rehearsal Noh Stage can hold a maximum of 200 people. Admission is free at the Exhibition Room, where you can find Noh Library Resources. Sometimes open lectures are held at the Large Lecture Room.
Book a ticket now and head to Tokyo to experience a one-of-a-kind traditional performance!
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