[New book] To Hallow Genji: a tribute to Noh

Prof. Royall Tyler told me about the imminent publication of his new collection of Noh translations just a couple of weeks ago. To Hallow Genji: a tribute to Noh is an interesting Amazon ‘print-on-demand’ independent publication format (does Royall Tyler need an editor at all?) including many rare and bangai plays that fell off the current repertoire of the five Noh schools. Prof. Tyler does not really need any introduction, but for those who are approaching Noh for the first time, I would like to remind that he has published his first Noh translations in the 1970s: his Japanese No Dramas (Penguin, 1993) is an important contribution to the dissemination of Noh in the world – I think it was the first Noh book I’ve ever bought, actually. He is the author of various major essays and translations of Japanese classical literature, including his recent English translation of the Tale of the Heike (Penguin 2012).

From the book’s blurb:

“This tribute to the Noh theater includes eighteen plays and four essays. Among the plays are five non-repertoire that survive in Zeami’s own hand. The eighteen are Genji kuyo, Akoya no matsu, Funabashi, Furu, Genjo, Hakozaki, Higaki, Kuzu, Matsura Sayohime, Naniwa, Nishikigi, Nomori, Saoyama, Tadatsu no Saemon, Togan Boto, Toru, Tsunemasa, and Unoha. The essays are entitled “The Sword of Furu,” “Matsukaze and the Music of the Biwa,” “The Jewel of Shidoji,” and “A Note on the Theme of Wholeness and Rupture.”

I am looking forward to lay my hands on this book. Amazon’s print-on-demand seems like an interesting alternative to the e-book format, which still needs improvement, especially when it comes to books that require columns and other special pagination and formatting.

Thoughts and pictures from the Noh workshop at HUB Kyoto

On Sunday 21st April I led a Noh theatre workshop for foreigners at the HUB Kyoto, Kyohakuin. It’s been a wonderful experience and a great chance to meet foreigners who share an interest in Noh and who are willing to try their best with Noh utai chant and shimai dance. Kyohakuin is an ex-school featuring a Noh stage which was not used for several decades. Recently the kagami-ita backdrop pine tree has been restored by Kim Hea-Kyoung and Ichimiya Keiko, and the participants of this workshop as well as myself had the privilege of dancing the shimai Oimatsu (‘Aged Pine’) in front of the renovated pine tree for the first time.

Diego and Carol Begert – ‘arigato gozaimashita’

Teaching absolute beginners is a very instructing experience for the teacher, too. Teaching a full, albeit brief, dance to people who never even walked the suriashi sliding step is very challenging, yet I find fascinating how all participants identify dance elements differently and focus on various parts of the dance according to their own decoding tools and processes.

Photographer Stéphane Barbery joined us and took the awesome picture you see on this post. Stéphane has a long-term project on Japanese traditional arts, and has photographed a number of Noh professionals so far. You can check his work on his Flickr account here.

THANKS to Lucinda Cowing and Eri Suzuki of the HUB Kyoto for helping organise and promote the event: I very much enjoyed this workshop and I am looking forward to the next one!

Julien de Vries
Izumi Texidor
Diego Pellecchia
With Hea-Kyoung's ko-omote
With Hea-Kyoung’s ko-omote