Tag Archives: Michishige

On the performance of Sagi at the Seiran Noh 2016

We publish here some thoughts on Udaka Michishige’s performance of Sagi (The Heron), by Rebecca Teele Ogamo.

The Seiran Noh performance of Sagi on September 11th, 2016 celebrating Udaka Michishige’s 70th birthday was one of the plays featured in the Kansai area Noh reviews in the Nohgaku Times. As the critic points out, the story is a demonstration of how a bird, without spirit or mind, shows its gratitude towards the emperor and has no real emotional expression. This being the case, the success or failure of a performance rests on the actor’s skills, refined over time, to portray the sense of purity and innocence of the heron through making the face a vehicle of abstract expression, as a mask is not used, but is performed hitamen, or with the face as a mask, or instead of a mask. The critic was especially impressed by the way that Michishige was able to do this, keeping his face completely devoid of expression. His portrayal of the utter stillness of the bird when it stopped, as though perching without moving had a majestic grace, and the seemingly effortless performance of the unique and extremely difficult dance of the heron, meticulously and without any wasted movement, seemed to reveal to the audience the actual heron on the shore of the pond.



Udaka Michishige as ‘the heron’ in Sagi. Udaka Seiran Noh. Kongō Nōgakudō, 11 September 2016. (Photo: Oka Tetsuya)


I have seen Udaka-sensei in other hitamen roles, but always as in the role of a living person, as in Hachinoki or Mochizuki, or of a ghost manifesting as a living person as in the first half of Atsumori. This was the first time to see him in the role of a non-human creature, relying on completely on focused movement, rather than a mask, to portray the essence of the heron. I was startled when I realized that I was no longer aware of an actor or his face, but felt I was watching a heron as it danced. The critic seemed to confirm this experience. “I wonder what kind of Sagi I will be?” Michishige mused one day after a mask carving class. I think it was the natural result of years of dedicated uncompromising practice.

Whatever our path, challenges are limitless, and the base and foundation on which we pursue them must always be a constant refining of basic skills.

For INI, too, this means a continuing renewal of our commitment to sharing and exploring the traditions of Noh. We grow and gain energy through shared experiences of how we test our limits. Please let us know about your path and progress, and know we support you in your challenges.”

Rebecca Teele Ogamo


31st Matsuyama Shimin Noh 2015 – Fujito

On November 3rd 2015 Udaka Michishige will perform the Noh FujitoUdaka Tatsushige, his elder son, will perform the maibayashi (chant and dance excerpt with instrumental dance) from the Noh Awajiwhile his younger brother Norishige will perform the shimai Kiyotsune.

In Fujito the spirit of the young fisherman who revealed to Sasaki no Moritsuna the shallows at the straits of Fujito so that he is able to take the enemy by surprise, appears and acts out how he was killed by Moritsuna, his body left to sink at the straits to ensure that the secret would not be revealed to anyone else. The Buddhist service Moritsuna offers on his behalf enables the spirit to gain enlightenment.

From 10:00 to 14:30 students of Udaka Michishige will perform dance and chant excerpts. INI members will also participate with the following shimai: Diego Pellecchia (高谷大悟): Kamo, Elaine Czech: MiwaThe performance of KIyotsuneAwaji, and Fujito will begin at 15:00.


31st Matsuyama Shimin-Noh performance

3 November 2015 Matsuyama (Ehime prefecture) Dogo Yamatoya Nohgakudo 10:00 – 17:00

Part I (10:00 – 14:30)
Student recital of chant and dance – free of charge

Part II (15:00 – 17:00)

Shimai: Kiyotsune (kuse). Shite: Udaka Norishige

Maibayashi: Awaji. Shite: Udaka Tatsushige
Noh: Fujito. Shite: Udaka Michishige

Tickets: General Admission ¥5,500   Advance Sale: ¥5,000
Student Admission ¥1,500

For questions and reservations contact us.

KYOTO INI Main Offices, Training Center 111 Satta-cho, Kami-takano, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0047 Fax: +81 (075) 701-1058 Email: ini.kyoto (at) gmail.com


The 16th Udaka Seiran Noh – Teika and Aoinoue 13 September 2015

This year’s Udaka Seiran Noh will feature the Noh plays Teika and Aoi-no-ue.

In the Noh Teika, performed by INI founder Udaka Michishige, a Priest is led to a vine-covered grave by a Woman he meets when sheltering from a passing autumn shower. It is the grave of poet Shokushi Naishinno, third daughter of Emperor Go-Shirakawa and the vines are called “Teika-kazura” after the poet Fujiwara no Teika. The story of their romance and  lingering attachment unfolds as the Woman reveals that she is the ghost of Shokushi Naishinno. Teika belongs to a group of Noh plays that only very experienced plays are allowed to perform, hence this is going to be a very rare opportunity for those in the Kansai area to come see the play, which is going to be staged with the added special variations sode-kagura and shinto.

Aoinoue, performed by Michishige’s younger son, Norishige, is based on an episode from the Tale of Genji, the 11th century masterpiece by Murasaki Shikibu. The main character is not Lady Aoi, the wife of Prince Genji, but Lady Rokujo, the most intriguing female character in the novel. Once Genji’s lover but now abandoned by him and filled with resentment towards his wife after a humiliating incident at the Kamo Festival where her coach was forced out of its viewing spot by Lady Aoi’s retainers, Lady Rokujō’s living spirit torments her rival. A shamaness is sent to discover the source of the possession of Lady Aoi and then an exorcism is performed by the priest Kohijiri, finally bringing Rokujo to her senses by calling on the power of the Buddhist sutras.

The 16th Udaka Seiran Noh

Kongo Noh Theatre 1:00~5:00 p.m. (doors open at 12:30p.m.)

Noh: Teika Sodekagura rokudo  Shite: UDAKA Michsihige

Kyogen: “KAMABARA”   Shite: SHIGEYAMA Shime


Noh: “AOINOUE”  Shite: UDAKA Norishige


Center Reserved Seats 8,000 yen
Side Reserved Seats 6,000 yen
General Admission Mid-center Seats 5,000 yen
Student, General Admission Mid-center Seats 3,000 yen

Synopses of the plays will be available at the theater in English, French, German, and Italian.
The Udaka Office
(For questions or reservations.)
TEL: +81 (075) 701-1055
FAX :+81 (075) 701-1058
In English:  Email: ogamo-tr@mbox.kyoto-inet.or.jp


Pictures from the 30th Matsuyama Shimin Noh Recital

Here are a few pictures of the 30th Matsuyama Shimin Noh recital in Matsuyama (Ehime pref.). Every year on November 3rd Kei’un-kai and INI members perform shimai (dance) and utai (chant) excerpts in a recital that takes place before a full Noh performance starring Udaka Michishige or, as in this year’s case, his sons Udaka Tatsushige and Udaka Norishige. The Udaka family has its roots in Matsuyama, where its ancestors were Noh performers who served the Matsudaira lords at Matsuyama Castle until the end of the Edo period, hence the deep connection between the current Udaka family, based in Kyoto, and the city of Matsuyama.

This year’s recital took place at the Dogo Yamatoya Honten, a beautiful ryokan (traditional hotel). The owner of this establishment is a fan of Noh, and the hotel rooms and facilities have Noh-sounding names. On the fourth floor there is an outdoor Noh stage where performances can be watched both from the usual front and side floors, and from porch-like structures at the back of both sides, just like the stages built within the premises of aristocratic mansions or temples. We were blessed by a deep blue sky and crisp autumn air, and the event, culminating with the performances of Takasago maibayashi by Udaka Norishige and Midare by Udaka Tatsushige, went very well.

Dogo Onsen by frenchbear @deviantart

Elaine Czech and I (Diego Pellecchia) arrived early in the morning on a night bus (a good way to save some money on transportation/accommodation fees) and enjoyed a hot bath at Dogo Onsen, one of the most famous Onsen in Japan, which has also served as model for Miyazaki Hayao’s Spirited Away. Matsuyama is famous for various literary figures and fictional characters who populated it, such as Natsume Sōseki’s Bocchan. Preparations for the performance started early, with more than 30 participants changing into traditional clothes (montsuki/kimono and hakama), getting ready to go on stage. Visitors  and audience members could also admire some of Udaka MIchishige’s masks on display in the lobby (see photos below) and watch the recital before the main event, the performances of Takasago and Midare in the afternoon. Elaine has taken pictures from of the day, which we are sharing here. Enjoy and we hope to see you there next time!