About Kyogen (狂言)
Kyogen is one of the Japanese traditional art which played on a stage.
And Kyogen is a skit that comically tells a funny story of common people in everyday life, like a comedy.
About Nohgaku (能楽)
Nohgaku is a traditional Japanese art form that consists of Kyogen and Noh.
Kyogen and Noh are two “different” types of theater, and Nohgaku is a play that alternates between Noh and Kyogen.
Nohgaku has a history of more than 600 years and is highly regarded abroad, and was registered as a UNESCO World Intangible Heritage Site in 2001.
The Beginning of Kyogen
Kyogen, like Noh, was established as a performing art in the Muromachi period. While Noh was accepted as a form of education for aristocrats and samurai families, Kyogen, in which nameless officials and townspeople are the main character, was widely accepted by the people because of its satirical and funny storytelling.
Kyogen and Noh are now collectively known as “Nohgaku”, and the combination of the two has become a traditional art form that produces a deep and exciting atmosphere, and is still performed today.
Performance format of Kyogen
Kyogen, in which God is the main character, is performed together with Noh, in which God is the main character as well. There are various characters in Kyogen, such as daimyo, master, son-in-law and yamabushi, but they are characterized by many stories of misery and failure.
In the Edo period, five genres of Noh were performed in sequence, with Kyogen performed in between. Even today, it is common to alternate between Noh and Kyogen performances. The duration of the performance is about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes for Noh and about 30 minutes for Kyogen.
Kyogen masks and costumes
In many of Kyogen performance, masks are not used and are performed face to face, but Kyogen also has its own masks.
Kyogen masks are used when animals such as monkeys and foxes, and non-human objects such as gods and demons appear in the play.
Kyogen costumes are determined by the status and role of the feudal lord, master, retainer, etc.
In the performance, Kyogen Tabi Shoes with a light brown fine stripe pattern on a yellow background are used.
For the female role, the head is wrapped in a white cloth called “Binan”, which is 5 meters long and 30 cm wide, and hung on the left and right sides of the face and held with both hands.
Performers in Kyogen
The characters in Kyogen can be divided into two parts: the main character, Shite, and Ado, who plays opposite player of Shite. Kyogen is not a division of labor system like Noh, but a single Kyogen performer called Kyogenshi performs both the Shite and the Ado.
It is a Kyogen performer who performs Kyogen.
There are two styles, the Okura style and the Izumi style.
The current Nohgaku
Since it is a traditional performing art, it may have an image of being a little difficult to understand and familiar.
However, even beginners can enjoy the atmosphere of the place while appreciating it.
Modern Nohgaku brings to us the lives and ideas of the people of the past in a variety of ways.
Whether you are looking for a Noh play that allows you to use your imagination, or a Kyogen play that allows you to enjoy the laughter of modern times, let’s find the play that suits you best.