【Noh and Kyogen】The World’s Most Ancient Performing Arts
The Noh and Kyogen forms of theater, which have around 600 years of history as traditional performing arts of Japan, are the oldest forms of theater currently practiced in the world. In 2008, they were registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Noh presents a world of subtle grace using the mingled elements of dance, drama, music, and poetry against a stringently minimalist backdrop. The movements, which are as abbreviated as humanly possible, each carry multiple meanings, so that every form of human feeling can be presented even by actors wearing supposedly expressionless Noh masks.
The dialogue is chanted in verse and the “hayashikata,” who handle the music, are arrayed on the stage. However, the purpose of the “soundtrack” is not to accompany the dancing or chanting—instead, it serves to advance the story and liven up the atmosphere on stage.
By contrast, Kyogen, which originated in roughly the same time period, is distinctive for being narrated in a colloquial style. Kyogen is nicknamed the “art of laughter,” because its performances revolve around straightforward comedy, such as with wordplay or satire.
＊Photo by: Sosuke Komai
Noh and Kyogen are performed on a stage that has a distinctive format, known as a Noh theater or Noh stage. Its main feature is the covered bridge passageway that joins the main stage with its wing, positioned at stage right of the square main stage (when seen from the main audience seating, the left-hand side of the stage).
In Kanagawa Prefecture, there are several Noh theaters (stages), and each offers unique performances, such as performances that include English explanatory captions. There are also cultural facilities where materials about Noh and Kyogen are on display. We hope you’ll check them out!
《You can experience it here!》
■Yokohama Noh Theater（Yokohama City）
>>>Click here for information about the Yokohama Noh Theater, which holds regular Noh theater tours.
■Kamakura Noh Theatre（Kamakura City）
>>>Click here for information about the Kamakura Noh Theatre, which stages performances that include explanatory captions.
■Miyakoshi Memorial Kuraki Noh Stage（Yokohama City）
>>>Click here for information about the Kuraki Noh Stage, whose beautiful stage is in a Japanese traditional garden.
■Kawasaki Noh Theater（Kawasaki City）
>>>Click here for information about the Kawasaki Noh Theater, where you can get to know Noh theater well.
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