Tag Archives: Kyoto

Noh Charity Performance for Kumamoto

Kanze and Kongo school Noh actors, as well as Kyogen actors will perform in a 2-part charity event as part of the Kumamoto earthquake relief effort.

Performances will take place on August 25th at the newly-built Rohm Theatre in Kyoto (Okazaki area). The first section (from 10:30) features the Noh TsunemasaHagoromo, the Kyogen Busu and the half-noh Kokaji. The second section (from 18:30) features the Noh Funa-BenkeiHagoromo, the Kyogen Bo-shibari and the half-noh Shari.

Tickets (1,500yen general admission) are available from June 1st. Each part requires a different ticket. Contact me if you are interested in purchasing a ticket.

Kumamoto Charity August 2016.jpg


Noh changes with imagination | Tatsushige Udaka | TEDxKyotoUniversity TEDx Talks

The International Noh Institute

Udaka Tatsushige’s TEDxKyotoUniversity talk on Noh is finally available with English subtitles! Enjoy and let us know what you think!

Noh, a classical Japanese musical drama, is not just what you see with your eyes, but what see with your mind too! This talk/performance will show you that in interpreting Noh, imagination is your limit!

Tatsushige Udaka was born in Kyoto, and started his career in Kokata acting from the young age of three years old. He was trained by the 26th head of the Kongo School, Hinasori KONGO, as well as by his father, Michishige UDAKA. Performing since he was young, he has had extensive stage and teaching experience in Noh Threatre. He has travelled, performed, taught, and demonstrated Noh in Japan, South Korea, France, and the United States throughout the last decade. Currently, he is based in Kyoto.

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[FREE] 2016 New Year Noh performances

Okina - Kongo Hisanori
Okina – Kongo Hisanori (Yasaka-jinja, Kyoto)

The New Year period is a busy time for Noh actors! Augural plays wishing long life and happiness are performed at various locations, especially Shinto shrines. If you are in Kyoto during the first week of January 2016, I recommend that you check out these FREE Noh performances.

Link to a (partial) performance calendar of the Kongo school here)

  • January 1st Friday from 12:30 @Heian Shrine. Ritual Noh performance. Okina. Shite: Kongo Hisanori.
  • January 3rd Sunday from 09:00 @Yasaka Shrine. Okina. Shite: Katayama Kuroemon. Shimai: Tsurukame. Shite: Kongo Hisanori.
  • January 3rd Sunday from 12:30 @Kongo Noh theatre. First performance of the year. Recitation of the chant of Okina, shimai and maibayashi (Iwafune Shite: Kongo Tatsunori).



Tadasu Kanjin Noh 2015

Hello! I apologise to my readers for not having written much in a long time. I am working on multiple research projects at the moment besides teaching and writing duties as always. Anyway I though I would take five just to share my excitement about attending the Tadasu Kanjin Noh at Shimogamo Shrine this Saturday 30th of May 2015. I would love to tell you more about the place, the play and the importance of kanjin (subscription) performances in Noh but, alas, no time for that. Just a few key features: open air performance; hashigakari bridge installed behind the musicians as it was in the olden days (a long long time ago); the iemoto of the Kanze School (Kanze Kiyokazu) dances the Noh Kamo with an impressive lineup of top-notch performers; it is expensive but the money goes towards the renovation of the Shimogamo Shrine.

What I am going to do in place of extensive writing is to shamelessly copy/paste the English info on the organisers’ website so that people in the area who are interested can easily find their way to the booking system.

Tadasu Kanjin Noh

Commemorating the 34th renovation of Shimogamo shrine
and the 550th anniversary of Tadasugawara Kanjin Sarugaku performance

Noh: Kamo
Performed by: Kanze Kiyokazu (head of the Kanze school)
Place: Shimogamo Shrine
Date and time: May 30 (Sat), 6 PM (doors open 5 PM)

Situated on the north eastern (inauspicious) side of the ancient capital, the Tadasu area was traditionally a place for conducting purification ceremonies. Tadasu no Mori (literally “Forest of Correction”), Shimogamo Shrine’s sacred grove, was believed to be a residence of a guardian deity which “corrects” (tadasu) the malign influences. 550 years ago, there was a famous performance of Sarugaku (a precursor of Noh) held at the Tadasu area for the purpose of temple solicitation. For Shimogamo shrine, 2015 is a year of “Shikinen Sengu”, a renovation which is done according to an ancient tradition every 21 years. Let’s take this important year as an opportunity to once again feel the beauty of Japanese culture.

Information about the Performance

S Seats 10,000 Yen
A Seats 5000 Yen
Special Seats 30,000 Yen (seating at a historical Important Cultural Property building)
Front Seats 20,000 (closest to the stage)

Organized by: Committee for the revival of Tadasu Sarugaku (Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto Shimbun, Yuhisai Kodokan)
Reservations & Inquiries: TEL: 075-781-0010 E-mail: tadasu-noh@kodo-kan.com

Buying Tickets

[Extended] Noh Mask Carving Atelier – Special Opening (February 2014)

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.

Three new dates (February 6th, 20th and 27th) have been added. There are two time slots: afternoon (14:00~17:00) or the evening (18:00~21:00).

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

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.

‘Magojiro’ by Udaka Michishige. Photo: Fabio Massimo Fioravanti

10 years of Shin-Kongo Nogakudo

On Sunday 24th of November a special celebratory event marked the 10th anniversary of the construction of the new Kongō Nō theatre, in Kyoto. The old theatre in Muromachi-street was a landmark in the history of Kyoto Noh, as it was the only stage rebuilt after all three main stages in Kyoto were burnt during the the Meiji upheavals. In 2004 the new state-of-the-art Kongō theatre opened on Karasuma street, in front of the imperial palace. I never had the pleasure of visiting the old theatre, but I heard many stories about it from  actors in the school. It still had tatami mats instead of chairs, and large windows that let warm daylight illuminate the stage, across clouds of tobacco smoke lifting from the back seats. There, important guests would be able to sit in privacy, hidden behind lowered bamboo curtains, which they would lift only to watch the performance. Unfortunately the building did not conform to the modern health & safety (and fire protection) standards, and had to be demolished.

The Shin-Kongo Nogakudo

The Shin-Kongō Nōgakudō (New Kongō Nōgakudō) is one of the best Noh theatres I have ever visited. The design style of the building mixes traditional and modern, wood and concrete, in a unique blend that creates an atmosphere that is not too relaxed, nor too intimidating. It has comfortable armchairs (but not too dangerously comfortable), and the temperature usually is just right, unlike other places where you either freeze or steam.

Sunday’s performance opened with a special variation of Okina a ritual performance celebrating long and prosperous life. In this variation, called jūnitsukiōrai, the Iemoto Kongō Hisanori and his son Kongō Tatsunori took the roles of two Okina exchanging verses describing the characteristics of each lunar month. The choice of the variation was excellent because it emphasises the cycle of time and seasons with both the Kongō father and son on stage, symbolising the generational transmission of the Kongō heritage. It closed with a final left-right salutation from Kongō Tatsunori, who will be the future Iemoto.

The Kongo Noh butai

The maibayashi extracted from the Noh Ema featured three of the senior Noh actors in the Kongō school, Teshima Michiharu, Imai Kiyotaka and my teacher, Udaka Michishige, who took the strong role of the god Tajikarao, pulling the Sun-Goddess Amaterasu out of the cave where she was hiding.

Hagoromo (shōgi no monogi variation) featured the beautiful ‘phoenix robe’, a costume only worn by the Kongō Iemoto. In this variation the tennyō (celestial maid) dons the costume while sitting on a stool in the middle of the stage.

Shakkyō (The Stone Bridge) concluded the long day of performances, with Kongō Tatsunori taking the role of the lion (an avatar of the Bodhisattva Manjusri) frolicking among white and red peonies.


Rare Play: ‘Hoso’ 彭祖 to be performed in Kyoto

On Sunday 27th October 2013 Kongō-ryu shite actor UDAKA Michishige will perform the rare Noh Hōso, exclusive to the Kongō school of Noh, as part of the Kongo Noh Theatre monthly programme. The Noh Yōkihi and the Kyogen Hagi Daimyō will also be performed on the day.

Noh: Hoso. National Noh Theatre, Tokyo. Shite: Kongo Hisanori. Photo: Aoki Shinji

Noh: Hōso 彭祖

Celebrations are being held at the court of Gi no Buntei in China and among the many immortals who come from their mountain hermitages to pay their respects is one who appears to be a young boy but calls himself ‘Hōso’, the ‘Prosperous Ancestor’. Asked about his identity, he tells how he was once in service at court but was exiled long ago for the crime of stepping over the Emperor’s pillow. In his compassion the Emperor gave the youth the pillow as a keepsake along with a quotation from the Kannon Sutra. Hōso explains that he was acquired eternal youth by drinking the water from the stream running by his hut. Hōso faithfully copied the quotation on the leaves of chrysanthemums which grew by his hut and dew that fell from them transformed the stream into an elixir. The emperor vows to visit Hōso’s hermitage on Mt. Tekken and later Hōso dances for him there.

Hōso is the sequel to Makura Jidō (titled Kiku Jidō in the Kanze school version) in which the young boy is discovered in his place of exile and he first realises that he has become an immortal, thanks to the power of the quotation he has copied on the chrysanthemum leaves. Hōso is performed only by the Kongō school.

(Text: Rebecca Teele Ogamo)

Kongo Noh Theatre, Kyoto. Monthly performance series (October).

  • Noh Yōkihi: Matsuno Yasunori
  • Kyogen Hagi Daimyō: Shigeyama Akira
  • Noh Hōso: Udaka Michshige

Doors open at 13:00, performances start at 13:30.

Tickets: Advance booking: 5,500yen At the door: 6,000yen Students: 3,000yen

For more information on the performance, or to reserve tickets, please contact me here.

Kongo map english

14th ‘Seiran Noh’ – MIDARE, FUTARI SHIZUKA


The Seiran-Noh (青蘭能) is a yearly performance at the Kongo Noh theatre in Kyoto featuring Udaka Michishige and his sons, Udaka Tatsushige and Udaka Norishige. Until now known as ‘Seigan Noh’, the event has recently changed its name into ‘Seiran’ honouring Udaka Michishige’s great-grandfather, painter Kawada Shoryo (1824-1898), who was closely related to Sakamoto Ryoma, one of the central characters in the Meiji restoration. Kawada’s favourite flower was the orchid (‘ran’ 蘭).

See below for ticket reservation

This year’s Seiran Noh (8 September 2013) features the Noh Midare, a special variation (kogaki) of the Noh Shōjō in which the midare-ashi a particularly unusual and challenging dance, is performed instead of the usual chu-no-mai medium tempo dance. Midare is a hiraki-mono, one of the plays marking a performer’s passage into a new phase of their career. This year Udaka Norishige will perform Midare, follow ing his father and elder brother’s steps.

The second play is Futari Shizuka, (‘Two Shizukas’), a third category play based on happenings and characters from the Genpei War tales. The special feature of this play is the instrumental dance performed by identically dressed shite and shite-tsure: the spirit of Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s lover Shizuka Gozen and a woman possessed by her. Futari Shizuka will be performed by Udaka Michishige and his eldest son, Udaka Tatsushige.

8 September 2013・The 14th  Annual Udaka Seiran Noh Performance

Kongo Noh Theatre 1:30~5:00 p.m. (doors open at 1:00p.m.)


Shite: UDAKA Michishige, Tsure: UDAKA Tatsushige


Shite: SHIGEYAMA Shime, Ado: SHIGEYAMA Motohiko


Shite: UDAKA Norishige

Tickets: Center Reserved Seats 7,000 yen, Side Reserved Seats 6,000 yen, General Admission Mid-center Seats 5,000 yen, Student, General Admission Mid-center Seats 2,000 yen

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

Contact me for information and ticket reservation


Kei’un-kai, INI Gala Recital 2013 *full programme*

June 29~30 (Saturday and Sunday), 2013

Kongo Nohgakudo, Karasuma Ichijo-sagaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-0912
Tel: 075 -441-7222

Please join us at the Kongo Nohgakudo for an opportunity to experience Noh in a variety of forms: shimai, dance excerpts; Maibayashi, dance excerpts with the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble of instruments as well as the chorus; Rengin, concert style performance of a Noh excerpt performed by students in formal kimono and hakama; and 3 fully costumed Noh performances each day.

• Descriptions of the content of each piece will be available in programs provided in English, French, German and Italian.
• The recital is free of charge and open to all. We look forward to seeing you at the Nohgakudo.

Day I Featuring International Noh Institute Students

June 29th (Saturday)

(from about 11.00am)

仕舞 Shimai dance excerpts in formal wear performed to the accompaniment of a small chorus.

舞囃子 Maibayashi excerpt to the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble and chorus:
「胡 蝶」KOCHO ‘The Butterfly’ shite: Cristina Picelli.

Bangai-Shimai Dances by professional Noh performers (UDAKA Tatsushige and UDAKA Norishige):
「加 茂」KAMO

(from about 12:00, noon)
Noh:『清経』KIYOTSUNE Shite: Diego Pellecchia Tsure: Monique Arnaud.

(about 1:20 p.m.)
Rengin concert-style recitation of an excerpt from a Noh.

Bangai-Shimai (performed by UDAKA Michishige):

(from about 2:00 p.m.)
Noh:『小鍛冶』 KOKAJI ‘The Swordsmith’ Shite: SOMYO Tadasuke

(from about 3:20 p.m.)
Shimai, dance excerpts

(from about 4:00 p.m.)
Noh: 『猩 々』SHOJO Shite: HIRASAWA Yumiko

Day II Featuring Keiun-kai Students

June 30th (Sunday)

Rengin concert-style recitation of an excerpt from a Noh

(from about 11:20 p.m.)

(about 11:40 p.m.)
Noh: 『羽 衣・盤渉』HAGOROMO Banshiki ‘The Robe of Feathers’ Shite: ITOH Yuki

Maibayashi excerpt with the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble:

(about 1:00 p.m.)

Rengin concert style recitation of an excerpt from a Noh.

Bangai Shimai(performed by UDAKA Michishige):

(from about 2:00 p.m.)
Noh: 『黒塚・白頭』KUROZUKA ‘The Black Mound’ Hakutoh Shite: KUROTAKE Sadato

(from about 3:10 p.m.)
Maibayashi excerpt with the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble:

(from about 4:00 p.m.)
Noh: 『猩 々』SHOJO Shite: NAGAO Atsushi

*Feel free to come and go quietly as you please during the recital.
*Be sure your cell phone is set on silent or manner mode.
*You may take pictures, but the use of flash is strictly prohibited.
*Please enjoy the tea and sweets provided.

Kyoto Takigi Noh 2013: Oe-yama


(Fire-lit performance)

Heian-jingu Shrine, Kyoto

1, 2 JUNE 2013

I strongly recommend those in Japan on June 1, 2 to come and attend the Heian Jingu Takigi Noh fire-lit performances in Kyoto. It is a unique chance to see full performances both by Kanze and Kongo master-actors, in the context of the evocative Heian-jingu shinto shrine. Performances begin at 5:30 (doors open at 4:30 and I  encourage you to come before this time –  seating is on a first come, first served basis) and end at around 8:45. Tickets are between 4,000 and 2,700 yen depending on the type. The INI International Noh Institute will have a stand with free information, translation and synopses in English – I will be there in person! ^_^ Do not hesitate to contact me if you are planning to come! See below for more info.

—- UPDATE :  advance tickets are now sold out!

2 JUNE 2013 Noh: OE-YAMA

Mae-shite: UDAKA Michishige


Synopsis (from P.G. O’Neill’s A Guide to Noh)

Yorimitsu and his companions, disguising themselves as yamabushi priests, set off at the command of the Emperor to find and kill a demon known as Shuten-doji. Guided to his dwelling on Oe-yama by a woman who has been captured and made to work for him, they beg a night’s lodging there. Shuten-doji is alarmed that his hiding-place is has been discovered, but because of a promise he has made never to lift his hand against priests, he feels bound to receive them hospitably. They drink together, but later that night when he has taken on his true form as a demon, he is surprised in his sleep and eventually killed by his enemies.


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