Suigian (水戯庵), a sushi restaurant featuring a noh stage, is set to open in Nihonbashi (Tokyo) on March 20, 2018. The restaurant will offer daily performances of Noh and Kyogen. I have mixed feelings about it. Yes offering this kind of performance is not philologically incorrect as people did eat drink and even smoke inside noh theatres in the past. Yes, we need to bring more people closer to noh so we should embrace ways to popularize it. But would you like to watch noh with the noise of people drinking cheering chewing etc? With the smell of food and alcoholic burps in the air? Would performers like it? The restaurant looks posh enough and is endorsed by performers (you can see famous actors and musicians featuring the photos on the website) still… I wonder what plays they will perform… in the case of Noh, I can think of very few that I would enjoy watching while having something in my stomach… I wonder what you guys think!
Tessenkai is producing a special event in Tokyo on March 25th (details below) featuring the noh Kiyotsune. On the day of the performance, the audience will be able to follow the action on the scene while reading subtitles appearing directly on personal tablets or smartphones via an app. The service is provided by Hinoki Shoten, publisher of noh books. I took care of the English edition of the subtitles.
Wow… my last post dates back to August! I have been pretty busy keeping up with work and research duties and had little time to update my little blog here. I will make that a New Year proposition. Meanwhile, Mika Sato Eglinton, fellow PhD at Royal Holloway, theatre scholar and journalist, was kind enough to invite me to answer 20 questions on my life in Japan, which appeared on the Japan Times this Sunday. It was great fun to try come up with answers. Newspapers have limited space so my verbose answers had to be cut, and something got a bit lost in the process, but that is part of the game! Anyway, I will leave a link to the article here! https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2017/12/09/people/diego-pellecchia-heavy-metal-noh-collide/
This is something I’ve been involved in recently, translating Japanese into English for Hinoki Noh publishing house. I hope I will be able to translate texts in Italian too, some day! Multilingual subtitles at the Noh theatre would be amazing.
The picture above shows the introductory section spectators can read before the performance begins. After that the audience can follow the action on stage while reading brief descriptions automatically updating on the screen as the play progresses. Pages have black background and white characters, minimizing the annoying effect of bright screens in the semi-darkness of the playhouse.
The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2016 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will join INI members for a 2-week intensive training period. Learn everything about it HERE.
No one likes sweeping statements and generalisations, and I’m not about to fall into that trap. Nonetheless there is a real case to be made that the most exciting centre for contemporary theatre and the performing arts in Japan today is not what was once called the “east capital”, Tokyo, but that older capital lying to the west, Kyoto.
This is not just about how many artists and directors are based in Kyoto, though it is certainly home to a significant number of solo artists and companies, including contemporary Kabuki troupe Kinoshita-Kabuki, Takuya Murakawa, and Kunio Sugihara.
No, Kyoto’s claim to be the new hub for Japanese contemporary performing arts is threefold.
Firstly, we now have ROHM Theatre Kyoto. Opening January 10th as part of a major renovation and redevelopment of the 50-year-old Kyoto Kaikan, ROHM Theatre Kyoto will be a major cultural hall and hub for a range…
Nogaku Shorin, publisher of the Nogaku Times, the most popular monthly tabloid reporting on the world of Noh with interviews, essays and performance ‘reviews’ (or ‘reports’, as they should be called) has finally made the move toward digitalisation launching the Nogaku Times website. While I believe most of the contents will still be available only in the paper publication, it is encouraging to notice a sign of ‘modernisation’ (it’s 2015…) of the methods for diffusing news on Noh.
On May 12th I’m going to sing in the chorus for the maibayashi (dance and music excerpt) from the Noh Awaji at the Ninomaru Castle Takigi Noh in Matsuyama (Ehime pref.). This time the shite is going to be Higaki Takafumi, while Udaka Michishige is going to lead the chorus.
It is the first time for me to study Awaji, a first category (god Noh) celebratory piece which is not performed as often as other plays from the same groups such as Takasago. In fact the utaibon libretto is only available in the kyūhon ‘old book’ format, with kuzushi-ji cursive characters and hentaigana alternative phonetic writing, making it rather hard to read even for Japanese native speakers. I have recently purchased a lot of these old books, which reminds me that I should soon or later write a post comparing new and old utaibon writing and notation style.
As for Awaji, it follows the typical first category structure: imperial officers are on their way to visit Awaji, thought to be the first island to be created when the godly couple Izanami and Izanagi stirred the primordial sea with a spear. The brine dropping from the spear hardened into islands, thus creating the Japanese archipelago. The officers meet an old man cultivating a rice field attached to a shrine and discuss with him the name Ni-no-miya shrine, an appellation that suggests the two gods Izanami and Izanagi, representing the actions of sowing and reaping. Quoting from ancient poems, the old man chants the fertility of the Japanese soil. Soon the old and mysterious man disappears, only to re-enter in the second half of the play as the male god Izanagi, dancing and bestowing long life and happiness to the land.