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.


Practice notes #1 voice

photo-1I’ve been keeping a log of my training of Kiyotsune. Probably much of it does not make much sense except to me, but I thought I would share some of them here.

  • The first verse is your chance to set the pitch for the whole play.
  • Kiyotsune is fairly young and educated, the pitch should not be too low and it should have a quality of smoothness and elegance.
  • Start low and use the first verse to find the right ‘pitch increase range’ within one sentence of yowagin.
  • It’s easier to adjust the pitch above than below.
  • Even if your face is covered, remember to keep lips and cheeks relaxed while you sing.
  • The chant is beautiful, be careful not to to let your mind wander too much as you listen to the ji-utai while sitting on the stool. You are the captain.

– 神秘神秘