Tokyobling's Blog

Noh Theatre at Shitaya Shrine Kagura

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 30, 2014

I took these photos of the traditional Noh performance at the Shitaya shrine in downtown Ueno/Shitaya. When I first came to Japan the slow and rather formal Noh theatre didn’t hold much interest for me, I was much more interested in the livelier and folksier plebeian festivals, the omikoshi, the Awaodori dancer for example. It wasn’t until I started looking closely at the acting in the tiny kagura stages on local shrine festivals that I fell in love with Noh. The acting, the movements and the music is absolutely sublime. This is storytelling of the highest order, nothing is explained, nothing is expected of the viewer and the audience is allowed to fill in the details for themselves as there is no dialogue nor any subtitles like you’ll find in some western Opera. There are many dozens of stories and roles but the most common ones are performed hundreds of times in Tokyo festivals alone. Although you are fully aware that the actors are wearing masks and that it is all make believe, the way that the tiniest movements interact with the music and the costumes makes it all look fantastically real. It doesn’t take any effort at all to just let your mind relax, just a tiny suspension of disbelief, and the story comes alive like nothing else.

I liken it to interactive 3D images, you know the images where if you stare long enough eventually you’ll see something different. Not everyone gets it at first. It took me years. But now I get Noh. And I love it.

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_5161

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_5163

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_5182

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_5201

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_5995

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_6005

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_6023

shitaya_matsuri_noh_kagura_6047

About these ads

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Timi said, on June 4, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    The masked persons are great along with the costumes, still, the expression of the man in the first picture, he just takes my heart away.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on June 5, 2014 at 3:02 am

      Thanks! Yes, he is concentrating on the melody, just before the actors come out on stage!

      Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,962 other followers

%d bloggers like this: