Composition of Noh

Present Noh and Illusional (Mugen) Noh

Many of the Noh plays are based on classics that were popular among the common people during the Muromachi period, such as The Tale of the Heike and Konjaku Monogatari. And, depending on the progress and composition of the song, it can be divided into “current Noh” and “illusional Noh”. In “Current Noh”, the story goes on in an ongoing manner. It’s a little difficult to follow the story of “Mugen Noh” because the story progresses at the intersection of reality and dreams in the performance, but since the composition of each song is similar, it can be regarded as a pattern…

The flow of Mugen Noh

A traveler visits a land and meets a local person

The local person talks about events and people related to the land

Finally, He or She disappears leaving behind saying “I am the person related to that land “

The first half up to this point is called “maeba”. After this, the hero once enters the curtain and becomes “coming middle” Nakairi .

After entering the middle, the main character appears again, and the latter half of the story is “Aftermarket Nochiba”

Then, appears the person of spirit in a dream of the traveler, she and he dance to express about the old days of the event, travelers with dreams wake of and the spirit fade away

Now, let’s take a look at this composition based on the actual work.

Composition of “Izutsu”

Here, I will take up a work called “Izutsu”. “Izutsu” is a masterpiece of Zeami’s Mugen Noh based on the Tales of Ise. The outline of the story is as follows.

[Maeba] One autumn day, a traveling monk stopped by Zaigenji Temple in Yamato Province on his way to Hase, and when Ariwara no Narihira and his wife, who are related to the temple prayed for the peace, a spirit of a local person appeared.

When the woman drew water from the well and turned to the old mound, Narihira went to another woman, but even then, she was struck by the heart of the daughter who cares about Narihira then she tells you that she has returned. In addition, “They were originally childhood friends and used to play near this well, but they became adults and became a married couple. She is the ordinary daughter who was said to be the woman of Izutsu,” then, she revealed. , Disappears.


[After] The
The monk hears the story of a woman from Izutsu from a villager who came to the temple and decides to mourn her incarnation. When the monk is taking a nap, a woman from Izutsu appears in a dream and dances while wearing Narihira’s keepsake costume. Then, by reflecting herself in the well, he asked for the image of Narihira. Eventually, at dawn, the woman in Izutsu disappears and the monk wakes up from her dream.

In this story, in front of the story, a local person tells a traveling monk about an episode of Narihira and Izutsu’s woman, telling her true identity, “I’m actually the spirit of that Izutsu’s woman,” and disappears. After entering the middle, the spirit of a woman from Izutsu appears in the dream of a traveling monk, wears a costume of Narihira’s keepsake, and dances while admiring Narihira of the past. In the daytime, the spirit of Izutsu, who appeared as a real woman in front of the traveling priest, appears in the dream of the traveling priest in the old form at night, which is a form of dream Noh.

The current Noh of real people to appear and develop

While Mugen Noh is the Noh to use things that are not in this world, such as the spirits of the dead and grudges, as a shite, the form of Noh in which people who actually exist appear and the story unfolds over time is described as ” It is called “current Noh”. There are stories of a mother who became a mad woman in search of a missing child, such as ” Sumidagawa, ” ” Mii-dera, ” and ” Sakuragawa, ” as well as the story of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and his group, ” Funa Benkei, ” who are trying to escape to the West .

Roles that appear in Noh

In Noh, the main character is called “Shite”. The roles played are gods, ghost warriors, ghost women, mad women, real men, women, etc., as well as supernatural beings such as tengu and dragon gods. The front shite of the story is “front shite”, and the back shite is “Nochi Shite ” It is called “back Shite”. Although the front and back shite of Mugen Noh are completely different roles, they are often played by the same Noh performer.
Noh is also called “shite-centered principle”, and shite is not only the leading role of one song but also a director, and has the right to decide the entire performance such as casting of the performer and how to direct it.
The opponent of the shite is called “Waki”. “Waki” is a very important role that appears in almost all Noh plays. He plays various roles such as a traveling monk and a protagonist, but what is different from Shite is that he is a “living person.” The Waki that encounters the shite is a living human being, and with many Noh plays, the dead becomes a scheme of seeking soul salvation from a living human being.
In Noh, it is not uncommon for both shite and Waki to proceed alone, so it is minimal to develop Tachikata (standing up person), (characters who play the role).

In addition, the companion of the shite is called “Tsure”, the role of the companion of the Waki is called “Wakitsure”, and the role of the children of the shite is called “Tomo”. In addition, the role played by the child is “” In some cases, the child plays the role of a young person as well as the child role.

Kyogen masters may appear in order to connect the front and back, explain what has passed, and give advice to the Waki in the Mugen Noh., Also called ” Aikyogen” or “Ai”

Types of Noh

Noh depends on the role played by Shite. , Man ,  , Mad ,  It can be divided into 5 genres. And, performing these five types in order is ”  “It’s called. “Gobantate” is a traditional program from the Edo period, in which four Kyogen are actually performed between five Noh plays. Beginning with God’s Noh in the refreshing time of the morning, following the brave Noh, the graceful Noh of a woman enters in the quiet time of the day, and then the story of Kyogen things mixed with emotions is watched, “Omagatoki” From the evening to the night, it is designed to end with the demon’s Noh. Nowadays, it is rarely held in a formal form because it is a long performance. However, even now, all programs are organized on the basis of the Gobantate, taking into consideration the order.

In addition, ” Okina ” will be performed before the official GobanTate . “Okina” is said to follow the flow of Sarugaku, and is said to be “Noh and not Noh,” and is distinguished from general Noh, and is always performed at the head of Noh. It is treated as a sacred ritual, and even now, “Okina” is performed before the first one at New Year’s, commemorative parties, and celebrations.

Kyogen masters may appear in order to connect the front and back, explain what has passed, and give advice to the Waki in the Mugen Noh., Also called ” Aikyogen” or “Ai”

Each genre and performance

“God” (Shobanme Mono)

The Noh to use God as a shite is called the ” Shobanme Mono.” It is also called “Waki Noh” in the sense that it is placed beside “Okina”. The content is that the god who appeared promises peace, happiness, and abundance of five grains. Almost front Shite is a God as Okina’s incarnation the back Shite become a God There are performances such as ” Takasago “, “Oi Matsu”, and ” Yoro “.

“Man” (Nibanme Mono)

Men are the main characters, and there are many dead people such as the ghosts of military commanders, and they are called “Shuramono”. A typical performance is the Noh of the ghost warrior, who is inspired by The Tale of the Heike. The outline is that the warlords who suffer from Shurado even after death will appear in this world in search of salvation. Performances such as ” Atsumori, ” ” Kiyotsune, ” ” Yashima (Yashima), ” and ” Tomoe ” fall into this category.

“Woman” (Sanbanme Mono)

A woman is the main character, it is called “”. It is the center of the fifth performances, the main character is the dead, and the theme is love and its anguish. Many are based on the assumption that the love feelings of female ghosts are floating without becoming a Buddhahood. Performances such as ” Hagoromo, ” ” Izutsu, ” ” Matsukaze, ” and “Teika” are in this field.

“Kyo” (Yonbanme Mono)

It is the Noh to make so-called madness a shite, and is also called “mad woman” or “madness”. “Kyo” here does not mean a morbid state, but a disturbed figure thinking about something. Also known as “Zatsu Noh_miscellaneous goods”, items that do not fit into other genres are also collected. There are plays ” Sumidagawa “, ” Million “, ” Kannawa ” and ” Dojoji ” are famous.

“Oni” (Gobanme Mono)

Demon, tengu, fairy, dragon god, etc. are the Noh shite. Because it is the last of the fifth, so it’s called “KiriNo Mono” meaning the end part of Noh performance. Intense dance, drums are added to all songs, the musical accompaniment is gorgeous, and the production is flashy. ” Nue “, ” Sesshoseki “, ” Adachihara (Kurotsuka) “, ” Shojo “, etc. are famous.f