Mt. Fuji

Udaka Michishige sees the Noh world as Mt. Fuji, which recently gained the World Heritage Status by UNESCO.


At the bottom is the general public, those who see Noh occasionally, who have a interest in it and respect its tradition.

Above them are Noh theatre-goers, for whom Noh is more than just an occasional pastime. Among them are Noh amateurs, who support actors attending many performances, and who in turn study Noh and contribute to its diffusion.

Then are hayashi musicians, waki actors, and kyogen actors. Their art provides the foundation for all Noh performance.

Above them, close to the top, are shite actors, whose training is complete in all aspects of Noh performance. They, more than anyone else, have the responsibility for the transmission of Noh tradition.

At the top are costumes and masks. Udaka-sensei symbolically values these ‘objects’ above ‘people’. He did not elaborate much on this proposition. I can think of various reasons why, but I am sure of none, so I would rather not over-interpret this. Certainly masks have been considered not simply as man-made performance tools, but as receptacles of higher energies. It might be possible to interpret this both from a spiritual-religious and an anthropological perspective, of course.

Above the top are clouds, sky, stars, even more mysterious and wondrous than Mt. Fuji itself. That is yugen, the indescribable beauty, profound abyss, or fathomless universe of Noh.


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