traditional culture

“Recommendation for Noh and Kyogen” - Yuichi Kinoshita (Kinoshita Kabuki)

Published 2015.12.25

Now you can quickly understand the history and charm!
A special conversation between Noh and Kyogen!

Text: Yuichi Kinoshita

An easy-to-understand explanation of the history and charm of Noh and Kyogen! I received such a heavy order, and I was wondering what to do. I decided to set up a conversation with both ``Noh'' and ``Kyogen'' artists, hoping to have them speak directly to me. Fortunately, both of them agreed and we had a good conversation. We will deliver the details of that conversation.

After all, both of them lived long lives (?) spanning hundreds of years, so the story gets complicated at times. I've added some notes here and there to help guide you, so I hope you enjoy reading them as well.

Who originated the Noh and Kyogen artists?

Noh : We are brothers.

Kyogen , that's the twins. Hey, brother.

I can do it. However, I'm not sure when I was born. There are various theories... I started remembering during the Muromachi period *1 , so roughly 600 years have passed.

Noh/Kyogen recommendations 01

Kyogen , of course, has been around for a long time, and all we know is that it has been around for a very long time.

Unfortunately , our Noh mother *2 has already passed away, but it seems that she was around even earlier. After all, I know about the Nara period.

Noh/Kyogen recommendations 02

Kyogen is so old!

Nobo is not originally from Japan. Apparently it was brought all the way from mainland China in the Nara period *3 .

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 03

Kyogen must have been a struggle, Mom...

Noh , apparently not. Apparently, in Japan, Kekko was welcomed by the whole country. It seems that he played an active role in the national ceremony of opening the eyes of the Great Buddha *4 . In modern times, it's like attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics. In any case, it seems that he was loved by nobles and powerful people. *5

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 04-05

Kyogen was a very lively person. I'm good at singing and dancing, and I like to make people laugh. She was good at magic tricks and acrobatics, and was truly a “super mom” *6 !

Noh/Kyogen recommendations 06

Even in Noh , I gradually started to get closer to the common people. I wonder if it was because it was so noisy that people who didn't like it were ignored *7 ? Well, he was originally a people-oriented person.

Noh/Kyogen recommendations 07

Was it Kyogen around that time? How did you meet your father?

I don't really know, but maybe so. I wonder if he's finished his "splendid bachelorhood" and is ready to settle down.

I don't remember much about Kyogen Dad... *8 .

Noh/Kyogen recommendations 08

I don't really understand what kind of person Noh was. *9 It seems he was Japanese. I think he was probably a simple person. Moreover, there are rumors that she has multiple fathers...my mother was a flashy person.

Noh/Kyogen recommendations 09

Kyogen Our family is complicated...

Noh And then we were born! In the beginning, we were all united, at least during the Heian period. It was called "Sarugaku" and we were alone.

Kyogen gradually began to diverge. My brother has a serious personality and is good at singing and dancing. I like to make people laugh, and I'm more of the "leaning" type of person...

You're so twisted (lol).

Because it is Kyogen , roles gradually began to be divided *10 . That will make the relationship better. But it's funny how even though they're twins, they have such different personalities.

10 recommendations for Noh and Kyogen

Noh : Really, did you know that there's a theory that we're actually not twins, we're not related by blood, that we're strangers?

Crazy ! ! ! What, this is my first time hearing that!

Rumor has it that Noh was originally born in the countryside and that his mother adopted him *11 .

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 11

Crazy , super shocking! I've always thought you were my twin brother...stop it, you're suddenly making such explosive statements!

I do n't know if it's true or not, but we've always been siblings, so either one is fine now. We've always been good friends. Although we are currently living apart due to various reasons, we lived together for a long time, and up until the Edo period, we were always doing things together *12 .

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 12

After working as office workers, each of them started looking for a place to work...

Speaking of the Kyogen Edo period, we were living as office workers at that time *13 .

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 13

When I was a Noh student , my life was very stable, but now that I think about it, it was very formal.

Kyogen- nii-chan is serious at heart, so I think he did pretty well, but since I have such a playful personality, I was treated as a bit of a bad employee, and the only time I was able to be active was at banquets, which was tough... I was treated lower than my brother. Maybe it's just paranoia.

Even in Noh , the company suddenly went bankrupt *14 , and the aftermath was already tough.

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 14

Kyogen : That period was probably the most difficult for us. I was so poor that I was on the verge of starvation.

We felt like Noh was going to kill us, so we each looked for a new place to pursue our activities, and here we are today.

It was around that time that we stopped living together. Nowadays, people see us as two different things, like ``Noh'' and ``Kyogen,'' and we are often performed separately, but in the end, we are brothers, and if possible, I want you to see both.

Noh: That 's true.

Kyogen- niichan is very profound and worth watching, the singing and dancing are beautiful, and it is sophisticated as a musical drama. However, it takes some time to understand the rules. I think it's more of a dialogue play, the content is frank, and I think it's easy to get into, so it might be a good idea for beginners to watch it first.

Yes , there are many things that have the same content. For example, stories where demons appear, or stories where the main character is a blind person. I think watching both will give you a much deeper perspective. I can clearly see the difference in the personalities of the two of us. Huh, twin entertainment? The way they draw is completely different.

Kyogen : I guess we're not brothers after all...Maybe I'm the adopted child...

Noh: You're worried about what I said earlier...

What are the similarities and differences between the two?

The demons portrayed by Kyogen -chan are really scary. They run wild and cause harm to humans. What's more, it also clearly depicts the tragedy of a person who was originally a human being turned into a demon due to jealousy, obsession, or trauma. So, in a horrifyingly real way, I thought about the possibility of becoming a demon myself...

Compared to Noh , the demons you draw are really charming. Sometimes the parents are stupid, sometimes they are weak-willed, sometimes they fall in love with a girl and try their best to woo her, but in the end, they throw beans at her and leave in a hurry (lol).

Kyogen is full of pathetic demons (lol).

Even in Noh , that's why he's such a lovable demon. Also, we may have something in common in that we both try to depict humans. You could say that I'm expressing the appearance of an ugly human being obsessed with obsession through the presence of a demon, and yours is a demon that smells more human than humans. By borrowing the existence of a demon, I am able to more poignantly express human weakness, loneliness, and, therefore, loveliness. At first, even the customers look at it as if it were someone else's problem, thinking, ``Oh, it's about demons,'' but then they start thinking, ``Wait, isn't this about us?!''

Kyogen, yes! That's what we have in common! We might be genuine twins after all! Also, people generally think that my brother is in charge of the ``tragedies'' and I am in charge of the ``comedies,'' but I wonder if that's true? I honestly think so. Well, if you just take out the contents, it looks like that. But even my brother is quite strange.

Able ! yes?

Even in Kyogen , for example, the stage equipment called "fabricated" *15 is completely strange, isn't it? Even though I'm so particular about costumes and props, is it okay to be that specific? ! That's what I think (laughs).

Recommendations for Noh and Kyogen 15

If you say Noh... If you look closely at Noh masks, you'll find that many of them have strange faces (lol).

The Kyogen content is also quite strange. The main character is very pessimistic and gives off a serious air, but there are many things that make me want to poke into him and say, ``No, no, there's something wrong with the way he worries!''

I feel like I understand a little bit of Noh . It can be funny to watch other people discuss their concerns.

When it comes to Kyogen , I like my brother's seriousness and naturalness. I loved it so much that I created a performance called ``Tako''. A thorough parody of my brother. The main character is the ghost of a cooked octopus, and it appears saying, ``I can't attain Buddhahood...''

Noh has carefully added ``utai'' and ``four beats'' to create a proper Noh structure. I've been meaning to say this for a while, but are you making fun of me?

Kyogen is outrageous! "Respec" is "Respec".

For those of you who like Noh, even though they are called comedies, there are a lot of them with quite melancholy content. There are some plays that will leave you stunned, such as ``Tsukimi Zato,'' ``Minohiro,'' and ``Buaku.'' It's like, ``I'm thinking about it, and then it becomes sad...''

I feel like I understand Kyogen . There are a lot of weird people out there, including me and the characters here, but if you look closely, you'll notice that we all have a little bit of the sadness and loneliness of ordinary people. The laughter in Kyogen is often the usual pattern of the main character plotting something and then failing, but everyone else is not plotting something as far-fetched as what to do about the nation or society. No, at most, his hopes are small, such as wanting to steal alcohol, seduce a girl, or earn a little money. But there's sadness in the fact that even such small hopes don't work out. The more I laugh, the more I get angry. I feel like a lonely person's ``Kara Genki'' is even more sad.

I ca n't even tell whether it's a Noh tragedy or a comedy. What's interesting about us is that it's not always easy. I would like many people to see it. Let’s start with Kyogen! It's Japan's oldest extant dialogue play, and you'll laugh, laugh, and be a little lulled by it all...a truly exquisite theater experience awaits you.

After Kyogen , be sure to try Noh! Pleasant music, pleasant singing, comfortable seats in the audience, slow movements, sleep, sleep... When you wake up, the story hasn't progressed much, and you go back to sleep... such a superb sleep experience awaits you. (lol)

Noh: You're making fun of me after all (lol)

Author profile
Yuichi Kinoshita | Director of Kinoshita Kabuki
Born on July 4, 1985 in Wakayama. When he was in the third grade of elementary school, he was shocked to hear Kamigata Rakugo and at the same time began teaching himself Rakugo. Later, he expanded his interest in classical performing arts and studied modern performing arts. In 2006, he founded Kinoshita Kabuki, where he directs, performs prosthetics, and supervises classical performances. ``Yoshitsune Senbonzakura'' ('12), ``Kurozuka'' ('14), ``Tokaido Yotsuya Ghost Story - Complete Performance'' ('14), ``Sannin Kichizo'' ('14, '15), ``Shinchuten no Amishima” (’15). In 2015, he was nominated for the Yomiuri Theater Award for the first half of 2015 for his play ``Sannin Kichizo.''

He is also active in a wide range of other fields, including writing and giving lectures on classical performing arts. Steep Hill Studio Support Artist (2013-). Since 2014, he has been a Junior Fellow of the Saison Cultural Foundation. Graduated from Kyoto University of Art and Design. Currently writing doctoral dissertation. The research theme is ``Takechi Kabuki Theory: New Kabuki production in modern times.''

Click here for events related to Noh and Kyogen scheduled to be held in Kanagawa Prefecture.

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