Futari Shizuka – shite and his double

コピーs~sDSCF4177Last Sunday I attended the Seiran-Noh, a regular performance organised by Udaka Michishige, also featuring his two sons, Tatsushige and Norishige. This year Udaka-sensei and his elder son Tatsushige performed the Noh Futari Shizuka. The tsure part in this play is particularly challenging, both because it portrays a common woman who is possessed by the spirit of Shizuka Gozen, entailing a change in the interpretation of the character, and because of the aimai, the synchronised dance performed by tsure and shite, two identical characters, respectively a woman possessed by the spirit of Shizuka (tsure) and Shizuka herself (shite). Most masks we use in Noh seriously hinder sight, so that the actor completely loses peripheral vision. You can imagine how hard synchronised dance can be when you cannot see your partner, and music does not follow a metronome. I was astounded not only by the precision of shite and tsure, but also by the sense of harmony that father and son naturally created on stage, which was all the more interesting if considered within the context of the play.

Watching the two Shizukas on stage, and knowing the difficulty of dancing in such condition, I couldn’t help thinking how  each of us has a double, another ‘me’ (or ‘you’) whom we know exists, even though we cannot see it. Most importantly, we cannot control it. It will dance close to you – you will hear the sound of its breath and steps – but you cannot clearly visualise it except for some fleeting instants, between the darkness of the mask and the light of the stage. The only thing you can do is adapt to it, or hint at a movement, hoping that it will adapt to you.

14th ‘Seiran Noh’ – MIDARE, FUTARI SHIZUKA


The Seiran-Noh (青蘭能) is a yearly performance at the Kongo Noh theatre in Kyoto featuring Udaka Michishige and his sons, Udaka Tatsushige and Udaka Norishige. Until now known as ‘Seigan Noh’, the event has recently changed its name into ‘Seiran’ honouring Udaka Michishige’s great-grandfather, painter Kawada Shoryo (1824-1898), who was closely related to Sakamoto Ryoma, one of the central characters in the Meiji restoration. Kawada’s favourite flower was the orchid (‘ran’ 蘭).

See below for ticket reservation

This year’s Seiran Noh (8 September 2013) features the Noh Midare, a special variation (kogaki) of the Noh Shōjō in which the midare-ashi a particularly unusual and challenging dance, is performed instead of the usual chu-no-mai medium tempo dance. Midare is a hiraki-mono, one of the plays marking a performer’s passage into a new phase of their career. This year Udaka Norishige will perform Midare, follow ing his father and elder brother’s steps.

The second play is Futari Shizuka, (‘Two Shizukas’), a third category play based on happenings and characters from the Genpei War tales. The special feature of this play is the instrumental dance performed by identically dressed shite and shite-tsure: the spirit of Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s lover Shizuka Gozen and a woman possessed by her. Futari Shizuka will be performed by Udaka Michishige and his eldest son, Udaka Tatsushige.

8 September 2013・The 14th  Annual Udaka Seiran Noh Performance

Kongo Noh Theatre 1:30~5:00 p.m. (doors open at 1:00p.m.)


Shite: UDAKA Michishige, Tsure: UDAKA Tatsushige


Shite: SHIGEYAMA Shime, Ado: SHIGEYAMA Motohiko


Shite: UDAKA Norishige

Tickets: Center Reserved Seats 7,000 yen, Side Reserved Seats 6,000 yen, General Admission Mid-center Seats 5,000 yen, Student, General Admission Mid-center Seats 2,000 yen

Synopses of the plays will be available at the theater in English, French, German, and Italian.

Contact me for information and ticket reservation