Category Archives: Events

Dōjōji memorial performance at the Kongō Nōgakudō (11 December 2022)

Dōjōji holds a special place in all traditional Japanese performing arts. The story of the dedication ceremony for a temple bell which leads to the revelation of its horrific history is one that is met by audiences with anticipation. The original bell, we learn, was destroyed many years before when it was used as a hiding place by a monk fearing for his life. The woman who had been led to believe that the monk would one day take her for his wife learns that this is not true. Her devastation at this betrayal of her love for the monk leads to her transformation into a serpent by her single-minded passion to find him as she follows him to the temple of Dōjōji where he has taken refuge. Finding his hiding place within the bell, she coils her serpent form around it, her passion burning him to a crisp. Priests preparing for the dedication ceremony are warned not to allow any women the temple precincts until after the ceremony is over, but they are no match for the spirit of the woman who come to avenge herself again on the bell, persuading them that as an entertainer is beyond gender. They even find an eboshi, the lacquered hat worn by shirabyoshi dancers, for her so she can perform in celebration of the raising of the bell. 

The nō version of Dōjōji emphasizes the unique relationship between the shite and the musicians, especially the hip and shoulder drums, to express intense primal emotions of resentment and of desire. Each of the two drums has a particular instance when they become one with the actor in his role of the woman seeking her revenge, but finally being driven away by the earnest prayers of the temple monks.

The first performance by a nō actor is considered to be especially important, a coming of age in his mastery of his skills in all aspects of his art, from chant and dance, to costuming as he accomplishes the change into serpent form within the bell and then battles the monks who seek to vanquish the spirit.

Memorial

On Sunday, December 11th, Udaka Norishige, will be performing Dōjōji at the Kongō Nōgakudō as the main feature of a memorial performance observing the sankaiki, or third anniversary of the death of his father, Udaka Michishige, who passed away on March 28, 2020. The traditional way of counting age in this case is based on the concept of cycles, with the first cycle considered to be accomplished at death, the first anniversary a year later, and the third at the end of the second year anticipating the start of the third year after death. Just as asymmetry is preferred over symmetry, odd numbers are considered preferable to even ones and to be more auspicious.

Mask exhibition

This is a performance dedicated to the memory of Udaka Michishige well-known as a performer, mask carver, teacher, and writer of and about nō and nō masks and also an affirmation of the resolve of his three children, mask carver Keiko, and actors Tatsushige and Norishige to continue on the path their father introduced them to and which they now are following each in their own way and also always supporting each other.

Photography exhibition

To this end they are also curating a display of performance photographs of their father, including photos of the three plays he authored and performed in: Shiki: Hototogisu, Genshigumo: Inori, a Prayer for Peace, and Ryōma as well as some of his nō masks. There will be a thirty-minute intermission between the performance by Udaka Tatsushige of the maibayashi of Tenko, the main dance section of a play in which the spirit of a young boy dances in joyful gratitude for religious services offered on his behalf after his death and Dōjōj allowing for more time to see the photos and masks.

This is a very special performance on many levels, and we look forward to seeing you there

December 11th 2022 from 14:00 (doors open at 13:00) at the Kongō Nōgakudō.

Tickets prices are:

 ¥6,000    general admission 

 ¥8,000    A seats  (facing the chorus or far right of stage front) 

 ¥11,000  S (Stage front, toward the back and right of stage front) 

¥13,000  SS (Stage front, closer to the stage) 

To reserve a ticket, contact us

Call for participants – INI Kyoto Summer Intensive 2023

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2023 Summer Intensive Program

Who can apply?

Anyone interested in studying nō chant and/or dance. There is no age limit, and previous knowledge is not required. The course is taught by English-speaking Japanese instructors.

What will participants learn?

Participants will study nō dance and chant according to the Kongō school tradition, and learn about various aspects of nō performance, including masks and costumes. The training period will culminate with a public recital alongside professional actors on a nō stage located within a gorgeous Kyoto-style traditional townhouse.

How does training work?

Nō classes take place daily, in the morning, or in the early afternoon. Every day you will be coached by one of our instructors, and you will be encouraged to practice independently in preparation for the following class. (A day-to-day calendar will be announced after the selection is complete).

What makes studying with the INI unique? 

The intimate environment in which lessons take place, reflecting the traditional nō training style, allows students to interact directly with the teachers. Lessons comprise both group work and one-to-one coaching.

For this 2023 edition of our Summer Intensive, the INI will collaborate with Discover Noh in Kyoto. Participants will be given the opportunity to explore Kyoto with a professional tour guide, discovering the deep connections between nō and the city.

Program highlights

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

Program details

  • Training period : July 10-23, 2023
  • Recital: July 23
  • Fees: Regular ¥80,000 Student ¥60,000 (includes graduate students)
  • Capacity: 6 participants

Fees include : Dance/chant lessons, materials, Kongō school nō fan, participation in the final recital, and a certificate of completion. Fees do not include: White tabi (split-toe socks), transportation, accommodation, and any other personal expenses.

Instructors: Udaka Tatsushige, Udaka Norishige (Kongō school actors), Udaka Keiko (nō mask carver) 

Coordinator: Diego Pellecchia (Kyoto Sangyō University, Certified Kongō school instructor)

How to apply

  • Send an email to ini.kyoto[at]gmail.com attaching the following documents:
  • Your Curriculum Vitae
  • A brief statement of interest (around 300 words)

Application deadline: May, 22nd 2023. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by May, 29th 2023.

For more information about the program contact us.


Photographs from past events

Noh mask carver Udaka Keiko on BBC World

Noh mask carver Udaka Keiko, who also teaches to INI members during workshops and residencies, has recently been interviewed by BBC World for an episode of the popular podcast The Documentary, researching the world of “ojōsan” or young women in contemporary Japanese society. Keiko was asked questions about women and representations of women in noh. You can listen to the episode here.

Some thoughts on Semimaru

This year’s Tatsushige-no-kai, Udaka Tatsushige’s self-produced performance event, features the famous play Semimaru. The masks which will be seen in this performance are the Semimaru from the Kongō collection and a Masukami carved by Udaka Keiko. As the day of the performance approaches (28 August 2022) we asked INI founding member Rebecca Teele Ogamo to share some of her thoughts about this highly poetic and touching play.


Semimaru introduces a prince and princess, Semimaru and his sister Sakagami, who, because of karmic misdeeds in past lives, are forced into circumstances opposite what might be expected of their royal birth. The prince is blind, and the princess is not right in her mind. While there are many legends associated with Semimaru and shrines dedicated to him, such as Seki Semimaru Shrine in Shiga prefecture, Sakagami is an original character created by the author, Zeami.  

At the start of the drama Semimaru because of his affliction, is being taken to be abandoned at a lonely mountain barrier at the order of his father the emperor. Though his eyes are unable to see, he has the insight to understand this seemingly cruel fate as a demonstration of his father’s compassion and concern as he is being allowed the opportunity to make positive advances towards his fate in future lives. A humble sympathizer provides him with a simple hut. His head shaved to indicate he has renounced the world, he is left with his biwa, a kind of lute, of which he is a master. Perhaps we might call him a kind of “old soul.” 

Sakagami, on the other hand, seems to see all too well, the intensity of the passion with which she perceives discrepancies in the order of the world lead her hair to stand on end and her words are taken as wild ravings to be mocked by those she encounters. What is the proper order of things? Seeds planted in the ground manifest as flowers above us; the moon shines in the sky above, while, moonlight, its reflection, penetrates the depths of the sea. An over-active inquiry into such things can lead down the slippery slope of heresy and of madness.

Sakagami’s wanderings after Semimaru has left the capital take her at last to a place where she hears the unexpected sound of a lute which she recognizes and brother and sister meet in the mountain depths. Reunited, they share their mutual pain and sorrow, until drawn by her destiny to wander, Sakagami leaves, even as Semimaru is destined to stay where he is. They part weeping, with Semimaru calling that he hopes his sister will visit again. She turns, her tears, which he cannot see, her answer.

In the photos above, Udaka Tatsushige’s father, the late Udaka Michishige, performs Semimaru at the old Kongō Nō Theatre.

The Semimaru mask used by the Kongō school shows the aristocratic features of a young man who seems in deep meditation, eyes half closed, but other senses alive to other information:  the sound of concern in a retainer’s voice, the feeling of a breeze on the skin, the scents of the forest. The mask seems to accept and absorb what is around it without any negative or judgmental response. Even when the mask is moved, its expression seems to change very little. 

The Masukami mask associated with the Kongō school for the role of Sakagami is seen in roles of goddesses or of women moved by heightened emotions, such as a shrine maiden in a state of possession. As the performer moves, an expression of grief changes to frustration or a cool despair appropriate to a goddess knowing displeasure with the human world, or with fellow divine beings. It is a powerful mask that challenges the viewer to rip aside the veil blurring the distinctions between worlds. A mask called Zo-Onna with similar qualities is often used for the role.

Semimaru is sometimes described as being a terribly tragic play as brother and sister are caught, willy-nilly, by a karmic fate that seems unbearably cruel. My own impression, through the power of the masks I’ve seen in performance, is of two survivors who deal with their fate differently, one with acceptance, the other with resistance, who meet and share nurturing tears, before parting to fulfill their destinies. Through the creation of the role of Sakagami Zeami introduces a meditation on an understanding and approach to the conundrums of life which are as immediate today as when the play was written.

Rebecca Teele Ogamo

Call for participants – INI Kyoto Summer Intensive 2022

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2022 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.

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 : July 11-24, 2022
  • Recital: July 24th
  • 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 July 24th 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 expenses.

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. We are aware that traveling may be difficult during the current pandemic. Feel free to contact us for more information about the program.

Application deadline: June, 5th 2022

Photographs from past events

Noh Theatre Exhibition at The Museum of Oriental Art, Venice

Noh theatre costumes, masks, musical instruments, and prints are currently on display at the Trame Giapponesi – Japanese Tales exhibition at The Museum of Oriental Art in Venice. The International Noh Institute is one of the patrons of the exhibition and two of its members, Monique Arnaud and Diego Pellecchia, have contributed with essays published in the catalog.

The central section of the exhibition is dedicated to the costumes purchased by Prince Enrico di Borbone Parma during his long journey around the world between 1887 and 1889, now preserved in the museum and never exhibited to the public in their entirety until now. To accompany the costumes, some noh masks from the collection of Renzo Freschi of Milan will also be on display, together with a number of gorgeous drums used by the noh hayashi ensemble.

In addition to these items, photographs of noh performances by Fabio Massimo Fioravanti as well as documentaries on noh theatre are on show. Fioravanti has photographed performances by the Kongo family and Udaka family over a number of years.

The exhibition runs until July 3rd 2022. Don’t miss it!

Online Lecture/Demonstration on Noh Theatre at the 2021 Virtual House of Voices

INI Instructor Udaka Tatsushige-sensei will give an online lecture/demonstration on noh theatre at the 2021 VIRTUAL HOUSE OF VOICES event organized by the California Institute of the Arts – School of Theatre. I paste the event information below.

Booking is required but participating is free of charge!

Please join us for this CalArts School of Theater initiative, conceived by Rafael Lopez-Barrantes, in which we explore three ancestral voice practices to create a dialogue between practitioners, students, faculty, artists, scholars, researchers, and scientists.The goal is to experience different cultural forms of the voice and to promote further dialogue between those interested in all aspects of human vocal expression.  This year, the event will be conducted online via ZOOM meeting, following CalArts’ safety guidance due to the pandemic.

Event details

Friday, January 22nd  (Los Angeles Time) 3 PM – 4:30 PM //
Saturday, January 23rd (Japan Time) 8 AM – 9:30 AM //
Tatsushige Udaka // Japanese Noh Theatre Tradition
RSVP at: https://calartshouseofvoices.com/

Video – The World of Noh

Watch “The World of Noh,” a video featuring excerpts from the Noh Tsunemasa (shite: Udaka Tatsushige) as well as interviews with actors and stage assistants. You can also catch a glimpse of the backstage preparations for the performance, in particular the costuming of the main actor. The video was filmed in October 2020 and is produced by Udaka Tatsushige and Haruna.

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.

Photo: Fabio Massimo Fioravanti

  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 Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Properties 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.

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