Apr 10,2017 Introduction to Nogaku, classical Japanese theatre
Nogaku, as one of the major forms of classical Japanese musical drama, was included in the first publication of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The origin of Nogaku dates back to the Nara period around one thousand years ago. Before the Edo period, “Noh” (one version of Nogaku musical drama) was referred to as “Sarugaku” but after the Meiji period, the term ”Nogaku” gradually became well known and popularly used to collectively represent “Noh” and “Kyogen.”
The Noh is often based on history and tales from traditional literature theater and the theater itself is considered as a symbolic drama featuring song and dance. Noh’s counterpart, Kyogen is a dialogic comical play often derived from everyday life and folktales, and its aim is to make its audience “laugh.”
The Noh and Kyogen, performed one after another on the Noh stage, to the accompaniment of music, usually played on fifes along with small and large hand drums, still continue to fascinate many of its audiences today.
Kyoto is full of historical sites offering a sense of charm of the classical Japanese theater, and you will find more than a few shrines and temples which have been regularly holding traditional Noh performances since ancient times.
(Reconstruction picture of Imakumano Shrine, Higashiyama ward, known as the birthplace of Nogaku: cited from the website)
Here are some recommended places where you can enjoy both Noh and Kyogen. Let us experience some profound Noh, and comical Kyogen along with some Japanese beauty taken in through our five senses!
Nogakudo (here you can enjoy both Noh and Kyogen)
(Oe Nogakudo Entrance)
(Kyoto Kanze Nohplay Theater – a Noh stage
- Kyoto Kanze Nohplay Theater
Address: 44 Okazaki Enshoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
By train:5-minute walk north from “Higashiyama” station of Kyoto Subway, Tozai line (Exit No. 1)
By bus:5-minute walk east from “Higashiyama Nio-mon” stop of Kyoto City Bus
- Kawamura Noh Theatre
Address: Yanaginozushi-cho 320-14, Karasuma Kamidachiuri-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
By train:2-minute walk toward north from “Imadegawa” station of Kyoto Subway, Karasuma line (Exit No. 2)
By bus:3-minute walk north from “Karasuma-Imadegawa” stop of Kyoto City Bus
- Kongo Nogakudo
Address: Nakadachiuri-agaru, Karasuma-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
By train:5-minute walk south from “Imadegawa” station of Kyoto Subway, Karasuma line (Exit No. 6)
By bus:5-minute walk south from “Karasuma–Imadegawa” stop of Kyoto City Bus
- Oe Nogakudo
Tel: 075-231-7625, 075-561-0622
Address: 646 Tachibana-cho, Higashi-iru Yanaginobanba Oshikoji, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
By train:5-minute walk east from “Karasuma-Oike” station of Kyoto Subway, Karasuma line (Exit No. 3), or 4-minute walk west from “Kyoto-Shiyakusho-mae” station of Kyoto Subway, Tozai line (Exit No. 3)
By bus:3-minute walk north from the “Sakaisuji-Oike” stop.
*Dainenbutu, or Dainenbutsu Kyogen originally started as a religious drama to disseminate Buddhism from the Kamakura era (1185-1333), and gradually incorporated elements of Noh and Kyogen which were already widespread in Kyoto even at this time.
(Saga Dainenbutsu Kyogen stage)
- 1) Mibu-dera / Mibu Kyogen
Address: Bo-jo Bukkoji-kita-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
By train:8-minute walk southwest from “Omiya” station of Hankyu Railway, or from “Shijo-Omiya” station of Keifuku Railway, Arashiyama line.
By bus:5-minute walk south from “Mibu-dera-michi” stop
Admission fee: Free
URL : http://www.mibudera.com/index.html
Annual regular stage: 3 times: in spring, autumn, and Setsubun Festival (February 2), 12 days in total
- 2) Seiryouji temple / Saga Dainenbutsu Kyogen
Address: Fujinoki-cho 46, Sagashakado, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
By train:15-minute walk toward northwest from “Saga Arashiyama” station of JR Sagano line (San-in Honsen line) 15-minute walk north from “Arashiyama” station of Randen (Keifuku Dentetsu), Arashiyama line
By bus:2-minute walk west from “Sagashakado-mae” stop of Kyoto City Bus and Kyoto Bus 3-minute walk north from “Saga-Shogakko-mae” stop of Kyoto City Bus and Kyoto Bus
Admission fee: Main hall
Normal: Group, discount (30 people or more)
Adult: 400 yen, 360 yen
Students (High school, Junior-high school):300 yen, 270 yen
Child: 200 yen, 180 yen
Disabled person: Free with an ID certification displayed (caregivers excluded)
Annual regular stage: Twice (at spring and autumn), and Otaimatsu-shiki (Torch ceremony) (March 15), Arashiyama Momiji-matsuri (Colored Leaves Festival) (Second Sunday in November)
- 3) Injo-ji Temple Senbon Enmado Kyogen
Address: Enma-mae-cho 34, Rozanji-agaru, Senbon-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
3-minute walk south from “Senbon Kurama-guchi” stop of Kyoto City Bus
3-minute walk north from “Kenryuko-mae” stop of Kyoto City Bus
Admission fee: Free
Annual regular stage: Twice (both at spring, Setsubun Festival (February 2)) and Hanakuyo (Memorial Flower Service) to Kurama-dera Temple Haiden (the hall of worship)
- 4) Sinsen-en / Dainenbutsu Kyogen
Address: Monzen-cho 166, Shinsenencho Higashi-iru, Oike-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
2-minute walk west from “Nijojo-mae” station of Kyoto Subway, Tozai-sen line Near from “Shinsen-en-mae” stop of Kyoto City Bus
5-minute walk west from “Horikawa Oike” stop of Kyoto City Bus
Admission fee: Free
Annual regular stage: Once in autumn
*The above information is accurate as of December 2016.
Please visit the relevant website to check for updated information as necessary.