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Noh Trivia

Question130 Tell us about unique Noh plays surviving in rural areas.


Although the history of Noh has developed with links to central authorities since the age of Kan'ami and Zeami, some plays continue to be passed on in a different way.

In the city of Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture, "Kurokawa Noh" is a form of ritual handed down for about 500 years at Kasuga Shrine, the guardian shrine of the Kurokawa district. It is descended from Sarugaku which was prevalent during the age of Zeami, with a similar repertoire of plays to those of the five major schools, including Kanze and Hōshō. It does not belong to any school, however, and retains old styles of programs and dancing forms that have already died out in the five schools. For example, a Kurokawa Noh actor assumes a unique posture with outstretched arms and pointing forefingers. It is said that the style traces back either to the days when Noh was born or to even older performing arts.

Plays were performed by the common people and farmers who live in the local area. The folk art performed during celebrations at the shrine improved in quality under the protection of successive local lords. It then came to be performed individually and even came to have an influence in neighbouring areas.

In May 1976, Kurokawa Noh was designated an important intangible folk cultural heritage of Japan.

(July. 30, 2014)

illustration : Hiroko Sakaki
Question 141 Are there two spaces on the Noh stage?
Question 140 Which performing arts has Noh influenced?
Question 139 Were there Noh actors who worked as warriors?
Question 138 Do you need any qualifications to become a Noh performer?
Question 137 Why is the back panel called kagami-ita?
Question 136 Has anyone from a Noh family been outstanding in another field?
Question 135 Is it possible for Noh actors to change to different schools?
Question 134 What is “XX Yashiki” found on old maps?
Question 133 What is the Sagi School of kyōgen?
Question 132 What role does the fan play in Noh performance?
Question 131 Does the bell in "Dōjōji" really exist?
Question 130 Tell us about unique Noh plays surviving in rural areas.
Question 129 Is it true the cypress stage floor is alive?
Question 128 What sort of a play is “Utsubo-zaru,” which features a juvenile role?
Question 127 What are the origins of the designs of kendai?
Question 126 How are costumes used for many years cared for?
Question 125 How do tsure and waki actors choose their costumes?
Question 124 What are the design rules for Noh fans?
Question 123 Was Natsume Soseki a Noh lover?
Question 122 Which kyōgen piece is based on a French conte?
Question 121 How do you hang the big bell for “Dōjōji”?
Question 120 What is the link between “Yoroboshi” and Shitennō-ji?
Question 119 Was Ii Naosuke a Noh/Kyogen playwright?
Question 118 Who was the actor-turned-daimyō of the Edo Period?
Question 117 What is Shinji-mai, a ritual dance with strong links to Noh?
Question 116 How did Noh become a ceremonial performance for the Edo Shogunate?
Question 115 Which opera is based on “Sumidagawa”?
Question 114 What was the origin of kogaki?
Question 113 Where does the sliding walk in the Noh performance come from?
Question 112 Was author Izumi Kyōka from the family of a Noh performer?
Question 111 Which Japanese films show the influence of Noh?
Question 110 Does each school have its own design patterns for the fans?
Question 109 Why are Tenkawa shrine and Noh closely connected?
Question 108 What role did koutai play in terakoya in the Edo period?
Question 107 Do the costumes vary with the pieces being performed?
Question 106 Does the term "shibai" come from Noh?
Question 105 Which Noh play was imported from a foreign country?
Question 104 What new pieces were performed by Hideyoshi?
Question 103 Which military commander was a drum virtuoso?
Question 102 What kind of people partonized Noh performers in the Warring States period?
Question 101 Did Zeami finally manage to return to Kyoto?
Question 100 What kind of relationship exists between shoulder drums and hip drums?
Question 99 What are some benefits of Noh vocalization?
Question 98 Why is “Hagoromo” so popular?
Question 97 Japanese people didn’t used to have back pain?
Question 96 What was the young Benkei like?
Question 95 What is Kanjin-no?
Question 94 Is the running time for a Noh play today the same it was in olden times?
Question 93 When did overseas Noh performances begin?
Question 92 Why are there many Noh stages on Sado Island?
Question 91 What kind of jobs does a kōken do when he is off stage?
Question 90 Does the Noh stage have a flat surface?
Question 89 Are the Japanese socks specially designed for the Noh performance?
Question 88 Are Noh performers all-rounders?
Question 87 Are there any solo performances by Noh musicians?
Question 86 Why go to su-utai?
Question 85 Is nakairi an interval?
Question 84 What special way is the small tabor played in Dojoji
Question 83 What is Waki-dome?
Question 82 How are spider's webs and threads used in Tsuchigumo?
Question 81 What is Rōsoku-noh?
Question 80 What kind of place is the setting for Utou?
Question 79 Is an ad lib a result of the performance?
Question 78 Is there a play in which the audience takes a part?
Question 77 Why do actors stand still for such a long time?
Question 76 What is the voice from behind the curtain?
Question 75 How many plays are performed?
Question 74 Do actors always change their costumes at the same moment?
Question 73 Why do musicians call out?
Question 72 What are the basic sounds of the small tabor?
Question 71 Is a drum always involved in the music?
Question 70 How much preparation time is needed for the large tabor?
Question 69 How many times does the call bell ring?
Question 68 What is the basic tone in Noh music?
Question 67 What does "komi" mean in the Noh world?
Question 66 Who is watched at the beginning of the performance?
Question 65 What kind of characters appear in Noh?
Question 64 How many fue (flutes) does a fuekata (flute player) have in a lifetime?
Question 63 Are koutai a way to understand Noh more quickly?
Question 62 Is there a third passageway in on a Noh stage?
Question 61 Are Noh performances always the same?
Question 60 What is the purpose of kizahashi?
Question 59 What is meant by iroiri when discussing Noh costumes?
Question 58 Is there a Nohgaku museum?
Question 57 How do you pronounce syllables in the g series?
Question 56 Is the distance of the bridgeway fixed?
Question 55 What sort of a play is "Ran-no"?
Question 54 Who is in charge of dressing the leading actors?
Question 53 Was Sharaku, a great ukiyo-e master, also a Noh actor?
Question 52 What are the basic forms and movements of Noh acting?
Question 51 Who is the "overseer" of the stage?
Question 50 Which side of the stage ranks higher, right or left?
Question 49 Why do kotsuzumi players lick their finger on stage?
Question 48 Is it true that performers wear two masks one over another?
Question 47 What kinds of props are used for Noh plays?
Question 46 Is it true that Noh actors' hearts beat as fast as those of athletes?
Question 45 How can reciters keep themselves in unison, while they are ten or more?
Question 44 Can Noh actors wear glasses on stage?
Question 43 Is there any influence of “Shōmyō” upon Noh chanting?
Question 42 Why do supporting actors not wear masks?
Question 41 Is haori half-coat not used on the Noh stage?
Question 40 What is the difference of “noh-kan” (Noh flutes) from other flutes or pipes?
Question 39 What is “Okina”, the piece classified in Noh, but not a genuine Noh play?
Question 38 Was Toyotomi Hideyoshi a great Noh actor?
Question 37 How many times do performers rehearse a piece?
Question 36 What do the pillars around the Noh stage signify?
Question 35 Is there any special technique in making female masks?
Question 34 How do you operate the entrance curtain?
Question 33 Do Zeami’s manuscripts exist today?
Question 32 How do they start the torchlights used for outdoor performances?
Question 31 When did kagami-ita, the symbol of the Noh theatre, first appear?
Question 30 In what period did books of Noh chants become popular publications?
Question 29 Is Takigi-noh performed even if it rains?
Question 28 What is Hakama-noh?
Question 27 What kind of hair is used on noh masks?
Question 26 Which play has the most actors?
Question 25 Can a woman become a Noh performer?
Question 24 Is there any special aspect in a Noh actor's folding fan?
Question 23 Do actors ever fall from the stage?
Question 22 How heavy is a Noh costume?
Question 21 Which Noh stages are designated as national treasures?
Question 20 Is it true that there is no stage director for Noh plays?
Question 19 Is it true that Noh music does not have definite tonality?
Question 18 Why is the art called Noh?
Question 17 When and how was the first independent Noh theatre created?
Question 16 Why is the entrance curtain multicoloured?
Question 15 Why are Noh masks so small?
Question 14 Nessun dorma, signore e signori!sun dorma, signore e signori!
Question 13 Is there any special etiquette to keep in mind in the theatre?
Question 12 Where can I find the best position in the auditorium?
Question 11 How long will "new pieces" remain new?
Question 10 Is hand clapping necessary for Noh programs?
Question 9 Why are Noh performers still active in their seventies?
Question 8 How do you care for Noh masks?
Question 7 What kinds of wigs are used in Noh plays?
Question 6 What kind of roles are played as kokata (juvenile actor) ?
Question 5 What does "hiraki" mean?
Question 4 Is the gangway bridge the same as the runway of Kabuki?
Question 3 Is it true that jars under the floor improve the acoustic effects?
Question 2 Noh and Kyogen, which is older?
Question 1 Is there any rule for the color of tabi (split-toed socks)?

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