The fourth Ryumon no Kai – Toru (Jusandan-no-mai)

On Sunday 8th March 2015 at the Kongo Nogakudo, on the occasion of the fourth Ryumon no kai event, Kongo Tatsunori, son of the Iemoto Kongo Hisanori is going to perform the Noh Toru in the special variation Jusandan-no-mai.

The Minister Minamoto-no-Toru, son of Emperor Saga, who built a magnificent villa in Kyoto called Kawara-no-in where he created a replica of the salt kilns of Shiogama in present day Miyagi prefecture. Toru is a highly evocative and dramatic Noh with a noble dance in the Jusandan-no-mai, Dance in Thirteen Movements variation, at the end of the Noh, in which the standard five movement dance is repeated in the Banshiki mode related to the element water, closing with three movements of the Kyu-no-mai, Rapid Dance.

The 4th Ryumon-no-kai

Time: Sunday 8th March 2015 from 13:00 (doors open at 12:30)

Place: The Kongo Noh Theatre Nakadachiuri-agaru, Karasuma-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto. 602-0912. Subway Karasuma-Imadegawa (K06), South Exit (n.6). Walk South 300m. MAP >>

Tickets: regular admission 5,500yen, students 3,000yen


Shimai: Naniwa, Futari Shizuka, Yoroboshi.

Kyogen: Hagi Daimyo Shigeyama Shime

Shimai: Sesshoseki – Kongo HIsanori

Noh: Toru (Jusandan-no-mai) Kongo Tatsunori

龍門之会(表) 龍門之会(裏)

17th Kongo Iwao II Memorial Performance

On Saturday 6th December 2014 from 13:00 to 17:00 the 17th Memorial Performance commemorating the late Iemoto (Head Master) Kongo Iwao II will take place at the Kongō Noh Theatre in Kyoto. This exceptional event will feature two special plays: Obasute, starring the current Iemoto, Kongō Hisanori, and Dōjō-ji (koshiki version) starring his son, Kongō Tatsunori. (See full program below. If you are interested in purchasing a ticket, contact me here).


Obasute, by Zeami Motokiyo is one of the highest ranking plays in the Noh repertoire, and is based on the ancient Japanese legend of obasute-yama, a mountain where the elderly were abandoned by their own relatives, and left there to die. The legend of obasute-yama has been popularised by the famous film The Ballad of Narayama by Kinoshita Keisuke (1958 remade by Imamura Shōhei in 1983). In the Noh play Obasute, the spirit of a woman who was abandoned on Obasute-yama appears to a traveller who is visiting the area, and describes how her loneliness prevent her to break away from her attachments to this world and reach enlightenment. The play is pervaded by the imagery of the full moon, a buddhist symbol of enlightenment, also associated to the Seishi-bosatsu, Bodhisattva of Wisdom and companion of Buddha Amida.

Kongo Dōjōji koshiki
Kongo Dōjōji koshiki

The story of Dōjō-ji is well known in Japan, also because of its Kabuki rendition. The play tells the story of a young woman whose impossible love for a monk transforms her into a deadly monster. After having learned about the girl’s feelings, the man finds refuge in a temple, where monks hide him under the bell. Realising his hiding spot, the woman, now transfigured into a monstrous snake, wraps herself around the bell. As her own snake-body burns with deadly passion, the bell melts along with the man hiding underneath. Years after this accident, a ceremony is held to celebrate a the rising of a new bell. The Abbot has prohibited women to enter the temple precincts, but a young and attractive girl comes knocking at the gates… This

17th Kongo Iwao II Memorial Performance

Time: Saturday 6th December 2014 – 13:00 to 17:00. Doors open at 12:30.

Place: Kongō Noh Theatre, Kyoto.

Noh: Obasute. Shite: Kongō Hisanori; Waki: Hōshō Kan; Flute: Sugi Ichikazu; Shoulder drum: Sowa Hiroshi; Hip drum: Kamei Tadao;  Stick drum: Maekawa Mitsunaga.

Kyōgen: Jisenseki. Shite: Shigeyama Sengorō: Ado: Shigeyama Dōji.

Noh: Dōjō-ji (koshiki) Shite: Kongō Tatsunori. Waki: Fukuō Kazuyuki; Flute: Takeichi Manabu; Shoulder drum: Okura Genjirō; Hip Drum: Kawamura Masaru; Stick drum: Maekawa Mitsunori.

Seating: S seats stage front 15,000¥; A seats stage side 13,000¥; B seats stage middle 10,000¥; balcony 8,000¥; students 5,000¥

17th Kongo Iwao II Memorial Performance

17th Kongo Iwao II Memorial Performance

Hosho X Kongo 2014

Interesting performance today at the Kongō Nōgakudō: the young Iemoto of the Hōshō school, Hōshō Kazufusa (27) and the future Iemoto of the Kongō school, Kongō Tatsunori (25) performed in the same event that brings together the current/future leaders of their respective stylistic schools. Hōshō Kazufusa performed Makiginu (sōkagura version), and it was very interesting for me to observe the Hōshō-style staging of a play I am rather familiar with, since I took part in it as tsure in 2010, and compare it with the Kongō rendition. Kongō Tatsunori performed Kokaji (hakutō version), a variation for which the Kongō is renown, featuring the stunning white and gold costume, white wig, and ō-tobide golden mask.

The event celebrates a long lasting relationship between the Hōshō and the Kongō school, but also acknowledges the efforts and achievements of two young protagonists of the contemporary Noh scene. The event will take place again in Tokyo at the Hōshō Nōgakudō on November 8th.