“Gio” Kanze Kaikan, March 31st 2013

My teacher, Udaka Michishige was chosen by the Nihon Nōgakukai to perform the Noh Giō (祇王)at their annual “Noh appreciation event” on March 31st 2013. This year 3 performances will be held at the Kanzekaikan theatre in Kyoto: EmaGiō, and Kokaji.

Giō is a play by Zeami, currently in the repertoire of the Hōshō, Kongō, and Kita (under the title Futari Giō) schools, though it is not often performed. Giō Gozen, one of the favourite dancers at the service of Taira no Kiyomori has helped dancer Hotoke Gozen to gain the lord’s favour. After having seen Hotoke’s dance, Kiyomori likes her more, but she promises Giō not to take her place. Similarly to the play Futari ShizukaGiō has shite and tsure dancing in synchronous on stage.

See details below


Date and Time:   March 31, 2013 (Sunday)   11:00 a.m. ~16:30 p.m. (doors open at 10:30 a.m.)
Venue:   Kanze Kaikan
Tickets:  general admission 5,000 Yen (first floor)  student 2,500 Yen (balcony)

A  Program of Noh, Shimai dance excerpts, Kyogen, and Itcho, drum and chant duet

11:00 a.m. NOH featuring the  Kanze School: EMA

13:30 p.m.  NOH featuring the Kongo School: GIO   Shite: UDAKA Michishige 

Kyogen featuring the Okura School:  NIO

15:20 p.m. NOH Featuring the Kanze School: KOKAJI Kurogashira

 The Udaka Michishige-no-kai Office
(For questions or reservations.)
TEL: +81 (075) 701-1055
FAX :+81 (075) 701-1058
Email: ogamo-tr@mbox.kyoto-inet.or.jp

Hatsubutai 2013

I am happy to announce that on June 29th 2013 I will take the role of shite (main actor) in the full production of a play from the traditional repertoire. The performance will take place at the Kongo Noh Theatre in Kyoto, on the occasion of the Udaka-kai Taikai, and will be my hatsubutai (初舞台, first appearance on stage) as main actor in a full production – with mask, costume and professional musicians. That’s all for now. I will be posting more about this event in the following weeks, so watch this space.

For now make sure you clear your schedule on June 29th (Sat). I am looking forward to meeting you in Kyoto and to celebrate after the performance!

Diego Pellecchia


Shinshun Wakakusa Noh – Nara

Just a quick note to signal the Shinshun Wakakusa Noh on January 14th in Nara (Prefectural Public Hall). The Oiemoto Kongo Hisanori will perform the Noh Shari (a very dynamic play in which a demon tries to steal the relics of a Buddha, only to be chased and chastised by the god Idaten) while Udaka Michishige will perform the shimai of the Noh Kasuga-Ryujin (‘The Dragon-God of Kasuga’, almost a site-specific piece!). Details here (in Japanese).





War dances in translation

Today I helped Udaka Norishige one of my teacher’s sons, with a Noh workshop at Iori Machiya in Kyoto. I don’t know much about the background of the workshop itself, as I only came upon request of Norishige-sensei, and my only duty was that of interpreting. The group of 18 people who participated to the workshop was mostly composed of Israeli and British citizens. Some of the Israeli participants were actually members of the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, where director Ninagawa Yukio is currently working on an adaptation of the Trojan Women with a mixed Israeli-Palestinian-Japanese cast. 

At the end of the workshop, which was very well received by the enthusiastic participants (we were flooded with questions!) Udaka Michishige danced a shimai, while Norishige-sensei and I sang as a small chorus. The piece was Yashima, which I also recently performed in Matsuyama.

Yashima ô-kassen (八島大合戦, The Battle of Yashima) by Hayashi-ya Shôgorô

The Noh Yashima (second category, warrior plays) tells the story of the homonymous battle that took place in the late 12th century at Yashima Island, (present Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture). Yashima is one of the most important battles of the Genpei War between the rival Minamoto and Heike clans. In Yashima the ghost of General Minamoto no Yoshitsune appears in front of a travelling monk and re-enacts various phases of the battle. Although the play Yashima is one of the three kachi-shura or ‘winning Noh’ (the other two being Tamura and Ebira), the tone of the play is far from being celebratory of the Minamoto victory. Death and killing is on both sides and as the chorus describes how, end of the battle, warriors scatter away like seagulls, while the ghost of Yoshitsune disappears in white foam, as the wind sweeps the desolate battlefield.

I wanted to write more in this post but I think I have actually said enough. Today I did my best.

Yashima island (image from the Samurai Archives)

The 14th UDAKA Michishige Men-no-Kai Mask Exhibition

‘Warriors and Women of the Heike Clan’

is the theme of this year’s UDAKA Michishige Men-no-Kai Noh mask exhibition. The 14th edition of the exhibition will feature works of Master-Actor UDAKA Michishige, possibly the only Noh actor who is also a professional mask carver, as well as several masks carved by his students. the exhibition will open tomorrow Tuesday 27th November and close on Thursday 28th November. Wednesday at 13:30 it will be possible to attend a talk by UDAKA Michishige and a Noh costuming demonstration. See below for more details and access information.

UDAKA Michishige’s work as Noh mask carver has been collected in various picture books, among which The Secrets of Noh Masks published by Kodansha International.

Noh: Michimori. Mask: Chujo, by UDAKA Michishige. Photograph by HARADA Shichikan

The 14th UDAKA Michishige Men-no-Kai Mask Exhibition

At the Kyoto Prefectural Center for Arts and Culture 2nd Floor
Kawaramachi Hironokoji-sagaru, Kamigyo-ku (across from the Prefectural Hospital)
10:00 a.m.~6:00 p.m. (5:30 p.m. on the 28th)
28th (Wednesday)1:30 p.m. Talk and Costuming Demonstration by UDAKA Michishige

Access information (in Japanese) http://www.bungei.jp/map/access.html


Matsuyama Shimin Noh 2012

11/23 – 28th Matsuyama Shimin Noh Performance

My teacher, Udaka Michishige is the descendant of the Udaka Clan, serving the Matsudaira lords in Matsuyama from 1712 until the beginning of the Meiji period, when the clan disbanded as a consequence of the upheavals of the Meiji restoration. Having the desire to restore the connection with his ancestors, Udaka-sensei has established a practice group in Matsuyama, where he eventually built a shiki-butai, a personal training space, in 1997. Udaka-sensei has been performing regularly in Matsuyama in various events, including the Shinonome Noh and the Matsuyama Shimin Noh. In addition, Udaka-sensei has been collaborating with the Matsuyama Shinonome shrine cataloguing and restoring the vast Noh masks and costumes collection.

This year’s performance for the Matsuyama Shimin Noh series will be Sesshōseki (‘The Death Rock’), centring on the figure of Tamamo-no-mae, the beautiful and lethal courtesan serving the Emperor Konoe (1139-1155), in reality an evil fox-spirit in disguise. In Sesshōseki a travelling monk meets the spirit of Tamamo-no-mae, now imprisoned in a rock that kills everything that touches it. Thanks to the mystic powers of the monk, Tamamo-no-mae is subdued. The ‘nyotai’ variation of Sesshōseki, which Udaka-sensei will perform on November 23rd in Matsuyama, features a different idetachi (costume, mask, wig set-up) for the shite, who appears as a more ‘feminine’ character  instead of the usual demonic or beastly shape. The performance will be preceded by a recital of su-utai and shimai by Udaka-sensei’s students – will write more about this soon.

Matsuyama Dogo  Yamatoya Nohgakudo 10:00 a.m.~5:00 p.m.

Part I    (10:00 a.m.~2:30 p.m.) :
Student recital of chant and dance~free of charge

Part II     (3:00 p.m.~5:00 p.m.) :
Maibayashi (excerpt with ensemble accompaniment):
Noh:  SESSHOSEKI  Nyotai  Shite: UDAKA Michishige

General Admission ¥5,000   Advance Sale: ¥4,000
Student Admission ¥1,500

The Udaka Michishige-no-kai Office
(For questions or reservations.)
TEL: +81 (075) 701-1055
FAX :+81 (075) 701-1058
Email: ogamo-tr@mbox.kyoto-inet.or.jp


An image of the contemporary Hojo ritual (©Asahi Shinbun)

Last Sunday I attended the Noh Hōjōgawa, which my teacher, Udaka Michishige, performed as part of the Teiki Noh (regular subscription series) at the Kongō theatre in Kyoto. Hōjōgawa is a rather unusal play – I learnt from Ogamo Rebecca Teele that it was the first time to be performed in sixty years, which probably means that the last person to perform it in our school was the late iemoto Kongō Iwao II. Hōjōgawa is a first category Noh (Kami-nō), and is attributed to Zeami. To my knowledge no full translation of he play has been published to date – the only available translation is by Ross Bender, who translated the first half, and has also written on the origin of the Hōjō ritual and its relation with the cult of the god Hachiman in places like Usa and Iwashimizu. In the play a shinto priest visits the Iwashimizu Hachiman shrine in Autumn, during the Hōjō-e ritual, when fish are returned to the river symbolising repentance for the killing of animals, prohibited by the Buddhist law. There he meets an old man carrying a pail with fish in it, who explains to the priest about the ritual. In the second half the god Takeuji appears and dances in celebration of the wealth of the country and of its emperor.

I thoroughly enjoyed the play which features the typical Kami-nō powerful entrance for the waki, and a stately Shin-no-jo-no-mai slow tempo dance. First category plays are not particularly interesting because of their dramaturgy – the real midokoro are the atmosphere of solemnity and sacredness brought by the presence of a god, and emphasised by special music, such as the long shin-no-issei for the entrance of Shite and Tsure in the first half, or the Raijo exit music, where Shite and Tsure, still in the form of commoners, exit the stage at the accompainment of the taiko stick drum, usually associated with supernatural beings, thus revealing their true identity.

Tickets giveaway! Noh: TORU 3 November 2012


For international students in the Tokyo-Yokohama area:
Do you know about Minamoto-no-Toru and his world? Answer the following question for a free ticket to the Sanrinshojo Noh performance of TORU on November 3rd.

In TORU a Priest meets an Old Man who is going to collect salt water to make salt. In what Noh play do two sisters appear who are also collecting salt water?

A free ticket is available for the first three correct answers to the question. When applying be sure to state your name, age, nationality/country, the name of institution where you are studying in Japan and address where we should send your ticket. Deadline for answers is October 19th. 

Send your answer to: ogamo-tr@mbox.kyoto-inet.or.jp (INI – International Noh Institute)



10th, and Final, Sanrinshojo series Noh Performance



Master-Actor UDAKA Michishige

3 November 2012 The National Noh Theatre, Tokyo
 1:30~4:20 p.m. (doors open at 12:30p.m.)

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

UDAKA Michishige created his ‘Sanrinshojo series’ to take on the challenge of performing in Tokyo once a year one of the ten great classics of Noh drama. The title of the series is from lines in the Noh MIWA that refer to the development and purification of the body or action, speech or vocal expression, and mind or intention. When these become one on stage an unforgettable experience of the world of Noh occurs. Before this final performance of the series, UDAKA Michishige treasures advice he was given ten years ago, the words of Edo period poet Basho: “Do not follow in the footsteps of the men of the past; rather, seek what they sought”.

In the Noh Toru we meet the spirit of Minister Minamoto-no-Toru. He built a magnificent villa in Kyoto where he created a replica of the salt kilns of Shiogama in Miyagi prefecture. This highly evocative Noh describes the beauty of the Matsushima area, one of the three most famous scenic spots in Japan, through the eyes of Toru. The Noh closes with the Jusandan-no- mai, the kogaki variation featured in this year’s performance. A Dance in Thirteen Movements, it repeats the standard five movements of the Haya-mai Fast Tempo Dance in the Banshiki mode related to the element water, and closes with three movements of the Kyu-no-mai, Rapid Dance in a rapturous meditation on the fleeting beauty of life.

Commentary:     Dr. ONO Yoshiro, Professor (Kyoto Institute of Technology)
Kyogen:                AKUTARO (MIYAKE Ukon)
Noh:                      TORU Jusandan-no-mai (UDAKA Michishige)

Reserved (stage front) 7,000 yen, Reserved (side) 6,000 yen, General admission (middle) 5,000 yen, Student (middle) 2,000 yen. For tickets or further information contact: ogamo-tr@mbox.kyoto-inet.or.jp and mention INI (International Noh Institute) when you book your ticket!

↓↓↓ Download the programme below ↓↓↓