Next Sunday (November 3rd, which is both my birthday and the ‘culture day’ in Japan) I will take part to the Matsuyama Shimin Noh performance at the Yamatoya Honten Noh stage in Matsuyama, Shikoku. The event begins at 10:00 with a recital (entry free of charge), featuring Udaka Michishige’s students. I will perform a shimai, or dance excerpt, from the Noh Uta-ura, and will sing in the su-utai chanting of the Noh Kogō. The main event will be Udaka-sensei’s performance of Aoinoue in the ‘mumyō no inori’ kogaki, or variation. I am lucky enough to have a privileged observation spot, serving in the ji-utai chorus for this performance.
Every year in November Udaka Michishige takes the shite main role at the Matsuyama Shimin Noh performance. Although based in Kyoto, Udaka regularly teaches both utai/shimai and mask carving in Nagoya, Okazaki, Tokyo, Yokohama, and Matsuyama in Shikoku, the area where his family originally comes from. He is a descendent of two Shikoku families: Udaka and Kawada. The Udaka family had a castle in Niihama City during the medieval period and later served the Matusdaira clan feudal lords in Matsuyama as Noh actors from 1712 until the start of the Meiji period.
For this year’s shimin Noh we are giving away 2 free tickets to the first two people who contact us so make sure not to miss this chance if you are in Matsuyama next weekend! Find contact details below.
Based on an episode from the Tale of Genji, the 11th century masterpiece by Murasaki Shikibu, the main character is not Lady Aoi, the wife of Prince Genji, but Lady Rokujo, the most intriguing female character in the novel. Once Genji’s lover but now abandoned by him and filled with resentment towards his wife after a humiliating incident at the Kamo Festival where her coach was forced out of its viewing spot by Lady Aoi’s retainers, Lady Rokujō’s living spirit torments her rival. A shamaness is sent to discover the source of the possession of Lady Aoi and then an exorcism is performed by the priest Kohijiri, finally bringing Rokujo to her senses by calling on the power of the Buddhist sutras. In the mumyō no inori kogaki or ‘Exorcism in Spiritual Darkness Variation’, the robe used to represent Lady Aoi is white rather than red, and Lady Rokujo leaves the stage for a change of costume rather than retreating to the koken-za stage attendants’ seat for only a change of mask. She returns in nagabakama, long vermillion trousers, often with a Nagakamoji, an extension of the wig that emphasises that Lady Rokujo’s is a noblewoman, increasing the sense of horror at the intensity of the expression of her jealousy in choreography also more graphic than in the standard production.
(Text by Rebecca Teele Ogamo)
Ehime University Noh Club
Udaka Michishige has taught students of the Ehime University Noh Theatre Club for over 30 years. Club activities include the practice of Noh chant and dance as well as workshops and performances. Every year in November club members join other students of Udaka at Matsuyama Municipal Noh Performance. Lessons are held both in Japanese and in English. Email: Kmct1q_es@ezweb.ne.jp
For information please contact:
Keiun-kai INI Main Offices, Training Center
111 Satta-cho, Kami-takano, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0047
Email: email@example.com (c/o Rebecca TEELE-OGAMO)
Matsuyama Keiun-kai Shikibutai
Yamagoe 4-chome 11-38, Matsuyama, Ehime
Tel/Fax: (089) 924-8554