A Backstage Invitation to Noh Theater

10-04 Bonfire Noh performance at Hyakumangoku Festival.jpg

Japan’s Premier Performing Tradition

A visit to Japan provides a rare opportunity for an up close look at a variety of the country’s performing arts. At the peak of Japan’s rich theater tradition is Noh, a classic form of religious performance that has been used to entertain gods and mortals for centuries. In fact, Noh remains the oldest form of performing art that is still practiced in the modern world.

The Noh plays themselves are an ensemble affair. With only a few actors on stage at a time, a chorus sitting on the side of the stage provides chanting and narration to enhance the dialogue. At the rear of the stage - in front of an ever-present pine tree mural - sit the musicians; drums and flute to accompany the action.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Noh art form is the use of carved wooden masks. Actors treat the masks with utmost respect, as if they are living beings themselves. When they put on the mask, they become the character. It’s a transformation that allows for the actor to accurately and convincingly portray his part through dialogue, song, and dance.

A Glimpse Behind the Mask

Witness the refinement of these arts with a studio visit to one of the world’s most renowned Noh performers and Noh mask carvers, Mr. Michishige Udaka. He is the only Noh actor who is also a highly skilled Noh mask carver, and is designated as a representative of a National Intangible Cultural Asset. It is Mr. Udaka’s wish to spread enthusiasm about Noh to visitors to Japan and on an international level.

During a backstage experience, guests will first be able to view a Noh performance, and then they will be escorted to the backstage to meet the actor. During this time guests will be able to hear an explanation of Noh and get a glimpse of the inner workings of performance production. A presentation of masks as well as the process of making them is also possible at the studio of master carver Mr. Udaka. He takes the time to educate and explain in great detail the process of this delicate art.

When you come to Japan, do not miss out on this rare opportunity to fully experience this exquisite Japanese performing art in a way that only the Art of Travel can provide. Visit our Japan Custom Journeys page to learn more about adding this experience to your luxury vacation.

Experience luxury in Japan with The Art of Travel

Culture, ExperiencesMarie Pilaud