28 Facts About Noh


Traditionally, a full nogaku program included several Noh plays with comedic kyogen plays in between; an abbreviated program of two Noh plays with one kyogen piece has become common today.

FactSnippet No. 574,300

Noh is often based on tales from traditional literature with a supernatural being transformed into human form as a hero narrating a story.

FactSnippet No. 574,301

Noh is a classical tradition that is highly valued by many today.

FactSnippet No. 574,302

When used alone, Noh refers to the historical genre of theatre that originated from sarugaku in the mid 14th century and continues to be performed today.

FactSnippet No. 574,303

Yoshimitsu fell in love with Zeami and his position of favor at court caused Noh to be performed frequently for Yoshimitsu thereafter.

FactSnippet No. 574,304

The companies that remained active throughout the Meiji era significantly broadened Noh's reach by catering to the general public, performing at theatres in major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka.

FactSnippet No. 574,305

The National Noh Theatre founded by the government in 1983 stages regular performances and organizes courses to train actors in the leading roles of nogaku.

FactSnippet No. 574,306

Noh was inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO as Nogaku theatre.

FactSnippet No. 574,307

Later, in the Meiji era, Noh performers taught wealthy people and nobles, and this led to more opportunities for female performers because women insisted on female teachers.

FactSnippet No. 574,308

In 2007, the National Noh Theatre began to annually present regular programs by female performers.

FactSnippet No. 574,309

Concept of jo-ha-kyu dictates virtually every element of Noh including compiling of a program of plays, structuring of each play, songs and dances within plays, and the basic rhythms within each Noh performance.

FactSnippet No. 574,310

Zeami isolated nine levels or types of Noh acting from lower degrees which put emphasis on movement and violence to higher degrees which represent the opening of a flower and spiritual prowess.

FactSnippet No. 574,311

In 2012, there are five extant schools of Noh acting called Kanze, Hosho (??), Komparu (??), Kongo (??), and Kita (??) schools that train shite actors.

FactSnippet No. 574,312

Noh performance combines a variety of elements into a stylistic whole, with each particular element the product of generations of refinement according to the central Buddhist, Shinto, and minimalist aspects of Noh's aesthetic principles.

FactSnippet No. 574,313

Noh masks are carved from blocks of Japanese cypress (? "hinoki"), and painted with natural pigments on a neutral base of glue and crunched seashell.

FactSnippet No. 574,314

Traditional Noh stage has complete openness that provides a shared experience between the performers and the audience throughout the performance.

FactSnippet No. 574,315

One of the most recognizable characteristic of Noh stage is its independent roof that hangs over the stage even in indoor theatres.

FactSnippet No. 574,316

The bridge symbolizes the mythic nature of Noh plays in which otherworldly ghosts and spirits frequently appear.

FactSnippet No. 574,317

Noh actors wear silk costumes called shozoku along with wigs, hats, and props such as the fan.

FactSnippet No. 574,318

Centuries, in accordance with the vision of Zeami, Noh costumes emulated the clothing that the characters would genuinely wear, such as the formal robes for a courtier and the street clothing for a peasant or commoner.

FactSnippet No. 574,319

The most commonly used prop in Noh is the fan, as it is carried by all performers regardless of role.

FactSnippet No. 574,320

Noh theatre is accompanied by a chorus and a hayashi ensemble.

FactSnippet No. 574,321

Noh is a chanted drama, and a few commentators have dubbed it "Japanese opera".

FactSnippet No. 574,322

However, the singing in Noh involves a limited tonal range, with lengthy, repetitive passages in a narrow dynamic range.

FactSnippet No. 574,323

Roughly 2000 plays created for Noh that are known today, about 240 make up the current repertoire performed by the five existing Noh schools.

FactSnippet No. 574,324

All Noh plays can be classified into three broad categories.

FactSnippet No. 574,325

All Noh plays are divided by their themes into the following five categories.

FactSnippet No. 574,326

Noh is still regularly performed today in public theatres as well as private theatres mostly located in major cities.

FactSnippet No. 574,327