Is there any sexual allusion in Robin being the Kasshiki mask?
Is there any sexual allusion in Robin being the Kasshiki mask?
Fantastic novel, but horrendous cover design. Then you wonder why people think Noh masks are scary. I never thought an onnamen (female mask) was scary until I saw this! Luckily the Italian edition which I read ages ago has a more plain cover art. And by the way, onnamen is the original title, not just ‘masks’… Ah, now I see why they needed to add the creepy female mask picture.
Due to popular demand the Special Opening of Udaka Michishige’s Noh Mask Carving Atelier has been extended. We have received many requests of Japanese and non-Japanese, Kyoto residents and Kyoto visitors who wished to learn about the world of Noh masks from the direct experience of a professional carver and actor such as Udaka Michishige.
This is a great opportunity for those interested in masks and in the mask-making process, as well as in the use of the masks in actual performance: Michishige is the only Noh actor who is also a skilled mask carver, regularly using his own masks on stage. In 2010, Michishige published the photobook The secrets of Noh Masks (Kodansha/Oxford) with photographer Shuichi Yamagata. I have posted more about Michishige’s activities as mask carver here.
If you are in Kyoto don’t miss this chance to be introduced to the world of Noh masks – both Japanese and English speakers are welcome!
Observers are admitted FREE OF CHARGE
Udaka’s atelier is just a few minutes on foot from the Kokusai-kaikan subway stop (Karasuma line). To reserve a place, or for more information, please feel free to contact me here.
I have shown in other posts how images and suggestions from Noh theatre populate a number of videogames. While Japanese-made videogames such as Tekken or Sengoku Taisen (I doubt this one has even been translated in other languages) contain elements of traditional culture, and Noh is one of them, it is more difficult to find Noh in American productions. Here is an exception! Tomb Raider 2013 features three Noh masks as hidden collectible items! I wonder whether the presence of Noh in videogames will spark interest for Noh in the players!
Obviously the names are messed up, but the 3D graphic rendering looks good! The actual names would be namanari (used in some versions of the play Sesshōseki) masugami (for roles of possessed women, as in Makiginu) and something that looks like a ja (an extreme version of a hannya mask, used in a variation of the play Dōjōji).
Udaka Michishige’s Noh mask atelier will open to guest observers on January 9th, 16th and 23rd from 14:00 to 17:00 or from 18:00 to 21:00. This is a great opportunity for those interested in masks and in the mask-making process, as well as in the use of the masks in actual performance: Michishige is the only Noh actor who is also a skilled mask carver, regularly using his own masks on stage. In 2010, Michishige published the photobook The secrets of Noh Masks (Kodansha/Oxford) with photographer Shuichi Yamagata. I have posted more about Michishige’s activities as mask carver here.
If you are in Kyoto don’t miss this chance to be introduced to the world of Noh masks – both Japanese and English speakers are welcome! Observers are admitted FREE OF CHARGE
To reserve a place, or for more information, please feel free to contact me here.
The mouth is now open. Kiyotsune is getting ready to tell his story.
In this picture you see Hea-Kyoung carving the chūjō mask I will use for Kiyotsune. At the bottom left is one of Udaka-sensei’s chūjō which is used as a model. A the top of the picture you can see paper shapes used to check the progress of specific portions of the mask.
In the picture below you can clearly see the mouth just after being opened. ‘Frowning’ eyebrow marks are also deeper now.
I consider myself a very ‘lucky’ (in the commonsense meaning of the term) person in many ways. Among these, one of my favourite is having a partner who carves Noh masks. Not only it is interesting to share a passion with someone who has a different insight from yours, but also it is wonderful to be working towards the same goal, in this case my first Noh, Kiyotsune. Hea-Kyoung has been working on this Chūjō (中将) under the supervision of Udaka-sensei. This is a rather standard version of Chūjō (the name of a military rank, sometimes translated as lieutenant or captain – if you know more let me know), used for roles of young warriors of the Heike clan, or for roles of aristocrats, as in the Noh Tōru. I will talk about this mask more in future post – for now here are a couple of pictures of how Kiyotsune’s face is coming into being.
The 2013 Word Figure Ice Skating Championship is now over – Kim Yuna (KOR) Carolina Kostner (ITA!) Asada Mao (JPN) on the podium. Watching the competition on TV reminded me of an interesting post I saw years ago on this blog. It is an interesting comparison, probably produced by some ice skating idol fan, between the faces of Kim Yuna and Asada Mao, and those of Noh masks and Buddha statues. Have a look.
Kim Yuna is compared to the Noh mask Zo-onna, used for roles of goddesses or celestial beings, such as the Tennyo in Hagoromo. Though I think Zo-onna is a more mature face than Kim Yuna at the time of this shot (probably some 5-6 years ago) there are some interesting similarities between the two. This can only prove one thing: Kim Yuna is gorgeous.
Asada Mao, instead, is compared to two sculptures of Bodhisattva, supernatural beings that decide to renounce to becoming ‘full Buddha’ and stay in ‘this world’ in order to help mankind reach enlightenment. I am not sure about the first picture, but I like the comparison with one of my favourite representations of Miroku Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of the Future), sitting with a foot resting on the knee, the hand close to his face, with the index delicately touching the cheek. The childish face of young Asada Mao, with a high eyebrow arc resembles to that of this meditating Miroku Bosatsu, though I think it is too childish to be compared to the otherworldly face of a Bodhisattva.
I tried but failed to find the source of the pictures (they seem to have spread over so many websites that I can’t find the original).
On Wednesday 28th 2012 I visited the 14th Udaka Michishige Men-No-Kai Noh mask exhibition at the Kyoto Prefectural Center for Arts and Culture. The exhibition featured over 30 masks both by Udaka Michishige and by his students. Udaka Michishige is not only a high-profile actor of the Kongo School of Noh, designated Important Cultural Asset by the Japanese government in 1991, but also a superb Noh mask carver. A number of his masks have been approved by the Iemoto Kongo Hisanori, and are now regularly used on stage. I should point out here how normally Noh mask carvers are not professional actors: they conduct their activity independently. Many Noh masks are not even considered to be for stage purpose, but for decorative purpose in private houses, offices, hotel lobbies, etc. I am not saying this in a derogatory way: some of these are very beautiful indeed… except that they are not suitable for stage use. Here is where Udaka Michishige is special: as an actor with extensive experience of mask use on stage he understands what distinguishes a beautiful work of art from the most important expressive tool of the Noh actor on stage, and implements this knowledge in his mask carving activities. Udaka Michishige teaches Noh mask carving in Kyoto, Nagoya, Matsuyama, and Tokyo: if you are interested in masks and would like to observe a carving session, please check the Men-No-Kai website for contact details.
Among the masks displayed during the 3 day exhibition were among Udaka-sensei’s finest pieces – here are some pictures I took with my iPhone (sorry for the bad quality…) – I will post more soon!