Noh Gaku – classical Japanese musical theater

Noh Gaku is a form of classical Japanese musical dance theater, that has been performed since the 14th century.

Traditionally, a Noh program included five Noh plays, and Kyogen (comedic piece) comes in between, but today’s typical show is an abbreviated program of two Noh plays and one Kyogen piece.

It is often based on tales from traditional literature with a supernatural being transformed into human form as a hero narrating a story.

In a Noh performance, emotions are conveyed by stylized conventional gestures, as actors put on a mask – each iconic masks represent the roles such as ghosts, women, children, and the elderly. The performance is presented along live music of traditional Japanese harmonics, and dance is often slow and subtle movement.

While it may be boring for children, it can be extremely fascinating for adults to witness such static Noh masks enable the actors convey deep emotions and feelings, which may only be understood by people of mature age.

And if you examine those static Noh masks (see the photo gallery below) carefully, you might realize they are not static.

Would you be interested in going to see Noh? Contact Japan Holiday Concierge.