Category Archives: Events

On the Life of Udaka Michishige: September 18, 1947~March 28, 2020

Udaka Michishige, master actor of the Kongō School of Noh, and noh mask carver, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family, on March 28, 2020, after living with a very aggressive type of lymphoma for over a year.

  Born in Kyoto on September 18, 1947, Michishige entered the Kongō School as a live-in apprentice in 1960 at the suggestion of his father at the age of 13. The word around the theater at the time was that there were great expectations for the new member of the family who was said to be a little unusual and to like English.

  Through the influence of his great-grandfather, Kawada Shoryō, a Tosa, Shikoku, clan samurai artist and scholar instrumental in debriefing John Manjiro, the castaway rescued with his comrades by a whaling vessel, returning many years later, and of his father, also an artist and historian, Michishige-sensei was always naturally curious about differing perspectives and drawn to them.

  On becoming independent in 1970, he soon had international, as well as Japanese, students. A passion for making masks lead to the formation of the Men no Kai carving group in 1978. Members, attracted to his excitement in sharing the world behind the mask as well as the craft itself, followed him in seeking the goal of creating masks for use on stage.

  Michishige also had a strong conviction from an early age of the importance of the jiutai, the chorus in noh, and the support and production groups Udaka Koenkai formed in 1983, and Noh-o-tanoshimu kai started in 1984, presented opportunities for him to choose challenging plays and to highlight the importance of the chorus leader, at times taking this role rather the main role. In consideration of his activities and excellence in all aspects of noh, he was designated by the government as a representative of a National Intangible Cultural Asset in 1991.

   Always challenging himself and the world of noh, Michishige never turned away a student, regardless of nationality or gender, convinced that Noh had a transformative and evocative power that anyone could respond to and embody themselves through training. His idea of a “Noh Renaissance” encompassed this embrace of a wide range of students and an approach to training that insisted on the development of concentration and intention through meditation, voice and body through exercises he designed to complement each person’s personal instrument, their body.

  Through the noh he authored he sought to reveal how close to us the veil between past and present always is. In 2001 he wrote and performed his first original noh play, SHIKI-HOTOTOGISU on the celebrated haiku poet Masaoka Shiki. In the same year he wrote HEIWA NO INORI: GENSHIGUMO, A PRAYER FOR PEACE, for which he took the unusual step of inviting non-performers to take the stage in the role of spirits in a memorial requiem for those caught up in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The play was first performed in Kyoto in 2003. RYŌMA, focusing on Sakamoto Ryōma, one of the architects of the Meiji restoration and influenced by Kawada Shoryō, was performed in 2003 at the Kōchi Museum to celebrate its 10th anniversary, accompanied an exhibition of Michishige’s great-grandfather’s paintings.

  In 2019 Michishige was chosen as the 29th recipient of Hosei University’s Saika Prize, awarded each year since 1988 to a person involved in noh for their lifetime achievements in supporting and transmitting noh. While in the hospital, in response to receiving this honor, he wrote about his hopes and dreams for continuing to make noh more readily accessible on an international scale through training in Japan. He also wrote both a noh and a kyogen play during the early days of his hospitalization.

  The magnitude of what he shared so generously, exacting the same discipline and enthusiasm from others as he demanded of himself, is too large to comprehend as yet. He is sorely missed, even as we understand his was a life well lived, and his passing a journey he embarked on with the preparation and thought for others with which he approached every challenge. Members of INI, cherishing the gift each has received, will carry on his legacy.

  Udaka Michishige is survived by his wife, Mariko, and their three children: noh actors Udaka Tatsushige and Norishige, and mask maker Udaka Keiko.

Photo: Fabio Massimo Fioravanti

Cancelled: Call for participants – INI Kyoto Summer Intensive 2020

Dear Applicants to the INI Kyoto Summer Intensive 2020

I regret to inform you that because of the recent outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) the 2020 Summer Intensive course has been cancelled.

The whole world is being affected by the outbreak, and Japan is no exception. Though we may be experiencing a slower increase in the number of infections as opposed to other countries, it has become clear that holding our intensive course and recital this summer would be unrealistic. 

On behalf of our main instructor, Udaka Tatsushige, I would like to thank you all for sending your applications and statements of interest. Though we do not have a definite plan for 2021, we are committed to re-schedule the intensive program when possible. It would be wonderful to see you all then. 

All best wishes and please do take care during this difficult time.

Diego Pellecchia (Course Coordinator)


The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2020 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will study noh dance and chant according to the Kongo school tradition, and learn about various aspects of noh performance, including masks and costumes. The training period will culminate with the participation in a recital at the Kongo Noh Theatre.

Program highlights

  • Train intensively in noh dance and chant. Practice in a small group for an immersive experience.
  • Perform with professional actors.
  • Watch noh performances on traditional stages.
  • Visit noh-related historical locations.
  • Experience living in the ancient capital, Kyoto.

Details

  • Training period : August 10-22, 2020
  • Recital: August 23rd
  • Fees: Regular ¥ 70,000 Repeater ¥ 60,000 INI member ¥50,000
  • Capacity: 8 participants

Fees include : Dance/chant lessons, materials, Kongo school fan, participation in the August 23rd recital, and a certificate of completion. Fees do not include: White tabi (split-toe socks – around ¥700- ¥1000/pair) Transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expense.

Instructors: Udaka Tatsushige, Udaka Norishige (Kongo school actors), Udaka Keiko (noh mask carver) Director: Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyo University).

How to apply: Send an email to ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest. Application deadline June 1st 2020


Images of previous training programs and recitals

Udaka Michishige awarded prestigious prize

Udaka Michishige has been awarded the Saika Prize 2019 by the Nōgaku Research Center of Hōsei University. The Prize was established in April 1988 to commemorate the donation of the Kanze Shinkurō Family Archive. It is awarded yearly to individual performers or institutions who have distinguished themselves for their efforts in the development and transmission of nō and kyōgen.

Udaka Michishige has been awarded the prize because of his outstanding career as actor and mask carver, but also as educator of both Japanese students, many of whom have become professional performers, and international students, with the International Noh Institute.

Udaka Seiran Noh 2018 – Hanjo and Kuzu

The 2018 Udaka Seiran Noh performance will take place on Sunday 9th September at the Kongō Noh Theatre, in Kyoto. This year’s event features two plays: Hanjo (starring Udaka Norishige) and Kuzu, performed in the hakutō variant (starring Udaka Michishige).
Hanjo(班女)tells the story of Hanago, a female entertainer working at an inn in Nogami, who falls in love with Fukakusa no Shōshō, a gentleman from Kyoto. The two exchange fans before he departs. Heartbroken, Hanago cannot but think of her lover, and is expelled from the inn. She then reaches Kyoto, where she entertains people at Tadasu-no-mori, near Shimogamo Shrine. She is famous for her songs and dances about Hanjo, a Chinese courtesan who wrote verses about her lost love. In the meantime, Fukakusa-no-shōshō has been looking for Hanago. Having heard that she performs at Tadasu-no-mori, he visits there. The two recognize the fans they once exchanged and are happily reunited.
Kuzu(国栖)offers an entirely different kind of atmosphere. Fearing for his life after being attacked by a rival, Emperor Tenmu (interpreted by a child actor) has escaped to the Yoshino mountains along with his retainers. There he meets an elderly couple that offers him shelter and food. The old man first serves a local fish to the Emperor, who only eats half of it. He then releases the other half in the river, and the fish miraculously comes back to life. This is interpreted as a sign that the Emperor will be able to return to the Capital safely. Soon after this, soldiers sent by Tenmu’s rival reach the elderly couple’s house, but the old man manages to hide the Emperor under a boat. Later the Buddhist guardian god Zao Gongen and a Celestial Maiden appear and dance in celebration of the Emperor.

The 19th Udaka Seiran Noh no Kai 2018

Place: Kongō Noh Theatre, Kyoto.
Date: 9 September 2018 (Sun)
Time: Doors open at 12:30 the performance starts at 13:00 and is expected to finish at around 17:00.
Program:
  • Greetings and introduction: Udaka Tatsushige
  • Noh: Hanjo (Shite: Udaka Norishige)
  • Kyōgen: Niku jūhachi
  • Noh: Kuzu – hakutō (Shite: Udaka Michishige)
Tickets:
Front seats・8,000円 Side seats・6,000円 Corner seats・5,000円 Students・3,000円
For tickets or other inquiries contact us.

Udaka Michishige to perform noh ‘Kagekiyo’ in Tokyo 24-08-2018

Kagekiyo

performed by

Udaka Michishige

The story:

A young woman called Hitomaru leaves her home in Kamegae near Kamakura to go with an Attendant in search of her father, the Heike warrior Taira-no-Kagekiyo, also known as Akushichibyoe, the ‘Hot-tempered’. It is rumored that he lives in exile in Hyuga, destitute and blind after putting out his own eyes rather than see his clan in defeat. Though she has not seen him since childhood, she hopes to meet him and hear of his life. Hitomaru and her Attendant find a blind man in a poor thatched hut who is, in fact, Kagekiyo, but he pretends not to know who they seek, both out of shame for his present condition and fearing that his daughter will be disgraced. In response to their inquiries, a Villager leads them again to Kagekiyo who at last recognizes his daughter. At the urging of the Villager, Kagekiyo tells his daughter of his role in the Battle of Yashima where he hoped to find and kill the Genji general Minamoto no Yoshitsune, but unable to do so, he attacked Minoya Juro a valiant warrior from Musashi Province, instead. They grappled, but Minoya was able to get away when the neck-piece of his armor broke. His tale finished, Kagekiyo begs Hitomaru to remember him in her prayers and sends her on her way home.

The Tale of the Heike which describes the rise and fall of the Heike clan and its rival, the Minamoto clan (or Taira and Genji clans, depending on the reading of the kanji characters) at the end of the Heian period during the late 12 century, provides material for many Noh plays.

Kagekiyo is unusual in that a child searches for a parent, while in most 4th-category Noh it is a mother who searches for a missing child. The passion and fiery temper of Kagekiyo are undimmed even now that he has fallen in the world, and are clear in his continuing struggle with his feelings as he first rejects, then accepts, his daughter and tells her of his days of glory long ago. There is no historical basis for his blindness or exile, as he was kept a prisoner in Kamakura after surrendering following the failure of an attempt to assassinate the Genji leader Yoritomo.

The shōmon-no-ashirai vartation adds further color to the story of Kagekiyo. The flute accompaniment, or ashirai, before the sashi chant section considered to be of special difficulty, expresses the loneliness and pathos of Kagekiyo’s life.

(Rebecca Ogamo Teele)

Place: Yarai Noh Theatre (Tokyo)

Time: 24 August 2018 (Friday) 18:30-20:00

Tickets: 7,000¥ (advanced sale) 8,000¥ (at the door) 3,000¥ (students)

For tickets or other enquiries: udakakai@yg7.so-net.ne.jp

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INI Summer Intensive Program 2018

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2018 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will take part in an intensive training period, during which they will study Noh chant and dance at the INI training space in Kyoto with Kongō school Noh actors of the Udaka family: Michishige, Tatsushige, Norishige, and Haruna. During the program, participants will learn about various aspects of noh performance, including chant, dance, masks, and costumes. The training period will culminate with a short performance as part of the the Udaka-kai recital on a noh stage in Kyoto, featuring professional actors. The program is coordinated by Dr. Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyo University).

Application deadline: June, 1st 2018. Early applications are strongly encouraged.

Program highlights:

  • Train intensively in noh chant and dance, following the traditional methods of the Kongō school.
  • Practice in a small group at the okeikoba, private training space of a noh master, for an immersive experience.
  • Perform on a noh stage together with professional actors.
  • Watch noh performances in the Kansai area.
  • Experience living in Kyoto, the heart of Japanese traditional culture.

INI SUMMER INTENSIVE PROGRAM 2018

Requirements: Anyone is welcome to join – no previous knowledge of Noh is required. Lessons are given in English and/or Japanese. Past year program attendees are entitled to the repeater discount of 10,000¥, as shown below.

Capacity: 10 participants

Place: INI Training Space, Kyoto

Training dates and times: August 1-12* from 10:00 to 15:00

*Lessons will not take place on August 4,5 and 11

Participation fees:

Regular 60,000¥
Repeater 50,000¥

Fees include:

  • Chant/dance lessons, basic materials (according to the participant’s level), participation to the August 12th recital, certificate of completion.

Fees do not include:

  • Tabi white split-toe socks (around 700¥)
  • Kongō-style Noh dance fan (5,000¥)
  • Rental of Kimono and Hakama for the recital (10,000¥)
  • Participation in the post-recital party (5,000¥)
  • Transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expenses.

How to apply: send us an email at ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest.

Application deadline: June, 1st 2018

*Late applications will be considered only if places are still available.

 

 

Udaka Michishige on Kyoto Journal 90

An extensive interview with Noh master-actor and mask carver Udaka Michishige features in the latest issue of Kyoto Journal, one of the most elegant and content-rich magazines produced in Kyoto. The article, written by noh enthusiast Mizuho Toyoshima, is enriched by gorgeous photographs by Pedro Medeiros and Fabio Massimo Fioravanti. Following the Kyoto Journal tradition, the issue is beautifully crafted, with elegant design and high-quality paper. Purchase this issue or subscribe to KJ here.

Capturing the hidden emotions of Japanese Noh masks – article on CNN

Udaka Michishige was recently featured, along with noh photographer Morita Toshiro, in an article on the CNN website, part of a series called Artisans: Japan. See the full article here.

 

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Udaka Michishige in the play Nonomiya. The Magojiro mask he is wearing is carved by Michishige himself. Photo by Fabio Massimo Fioravanti

 

Noh photography exhibition in Osaka

locandina.jpgItalian photographer Fabio Massimo Fioravanti is exhibiting his works at the Italian Culture Institute – Osaka (see map below). The exhibition, entitled like his 2014 book, La Via del Noh (The Way of Noh) displays a variety of photographs, providing rare insights into the onstage and off-stage life of noh actors. On this occasion, Fioravanti, who has been photographing noh since the 1980s,  and has a close connection with the Kongo school and with actor Udaka Michishige, has printed his works on Japanese awagami paper, produced exclusively with natural fibers, hence providing a more ‘natural’ look to the photographs.

 


Fabio Massimo Fioravanti – La via del Noh 能への道

October 27th – November 9th 2017

Italian Culture Institute – Nakanoshima Festival Tower. 〒530-0005 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Kita Ward, Nakanoshima, 2 Chome−3−18

INI – Summer Intensive Program 2017

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2017 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will take part in an intensive training period, during which they will study Noh chant and dance at the INI headquarters in Kyoto with Kongō school Noh actors Udaka Michishige, Udaka Tatsushige and Udaka Norishige. In addition, they will be able to observe the rehearsal and to attend the Udaka Seiran Noh performance. During the program, participants will learn about various aspects of noh, including masks and costumes. The program is coordinated by Dr Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyo University). Application deadline: May, 1st 2017.

Program highlights:

  • Train intensively in noh chant and dance, following the traditional methods of the Kongō school.
  • Practice in a small group at the okeikoba, private training space of a noh master, for an immersive experience.
  • Observe the rehearsals of a professional noh performance.
  • Watch two noh performances: at a Buddhist temple (free of charge) and at the Kongo Noh theatre (included in the participation fee)
  • Experience living in Kyoto, the heart of Japanese traditional culture.

INI SUMMER INTENSIVE PROGRAM 2017

Requirements: Anyone is welcome to join – no previous knowledge of Noh is required. Lessons are given in English and/or Japanese. Past year program attendees are entitled to the repeater discount of 10,000JPY, as shown below.

Capacity: 3-5 participants

Place: INI Training Space, Kyoto

Period: September 4 – 14 2017, every day

Fees (in Japanese yen)

Regular 60,000
Repeater 50,000

Fees include:

  • Regular: chant/dance lessons, basic materials (according to their level), Udaka Seiran Noh ticket, INI certification of completion of the introductory course.
  • Repeater: chant/dance lessons, basic materials (according to their level), Udaka Seiran Noh ticket, INI certification of completion of the intermediate course. Audiovisual materials to continue dance and chant practice from home.

Fees do not include:

  • Tabi white split-toe socks (around 700JPY)
  • Kongō-style Noh dance fan (5000JPY).
  • Transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expenses.

Activities calendar: September 2017

Lessons will take place 10:00-15:00 at the INI training space in Iwakura, Kyoto.

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How to apply: send us an email at ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com Please attach your C.V. and a brief statement of interest.

Application deadline: May, 1st 2017

*Late applications will be considered only if places are still available. The program will be cancelled if it does not reach the minimum number of participants