Tag Archives: training

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.


  • 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

INI Summer Workshop Participant: Alice Milluy

I am currently living in Japan, with a Cultural Activities Visa that allows me to make a tailored program for myself. In addition to Noh Theatre, I am also currently studying butoh, kyūdō, and several dance styles. I arrived in Kyoto after having studied the Ko-tsuzumi for a few months in Kanazawa. I was lucky enough to get into Japan, considering the global pandemic that was going on. This also explains the special conditions in which I took the Summer Intensive Course. I was the only student who was able to get into the country. Therefore, my experience was, once again, quite unique.

Alice Milluy – shimai “Yuya”

I was born in a family that treasures the arts and have always felt a strong connection to them, especially theatre. I first encountered Noh through a workshop I took out of curiosity a few years ago, when I was living in Belgium. I was practicing Iaido at the time and it seemed like a natural meeting point between Japanese Martial Arts and Theatre.

At first, I didn’t really know what to think of it. I knew I was in love with it, but couldn’t explain where my fascination for it was coming from. Everything about it seemed like it came from so far away that I doubted I would ever begin to understand it. I imagined it’d be a one-time workshop that’d just be a little experience outside my comfort zone.

I entered a Lecoq Technique Movement Theatre school in Brussels. That’s where I crossed paths with Noh again. Indeed, part of Jacques Lecoq’s work method was created from research and work with Noh professionals; mask-makers, and actors. This discovery, among other things, made me realize that, to become the actress I wished to be, I needed to broaden my horizons and truly emerge myself in foreign performing art forms, and that Japan was the place where I’d start my research. With all that in mind, I participated in the  Intensive Summer Workshop at the INI in Kyoto.

My time with Udaka Tatsushige-sensei wasn’t just about learning to dance and to sing one piece. I am truly thankful for the gift of time and of knowledge he gave me.
He made me see that Noh is more than just an ancient art form, but that it has very modern sides to it, that it evolves while respecting its roots. What makes it come to life, and, in my opinion, has helped to keep it alive for so many centuries, is its unique structure and the dedication with which it was passed onto the following generations. Being able to witness it, and to get a glimpse of what it means to be a Noh professional (an actor, mask-maker, or even musician), was incredibly inspiring to me. When I arrived on the first day, my knowledge of Noh theatre was similar to a seed that had just been planted in fresh ground. It needed that little push for its roots to go through the shell, and for the plant to start growing in hope of reaching the surface.

On a more personal note, I can say that Noh gave me a kind of stability that I’d never experienced before. Working with kata that have been passed down for hundreds of years gave me a feeling of safety and grounding during the practice. Repeating, again and again, the same movements without having to question myself every step of the way was very refreshing. The different concepts found in the practice of Noh showed me a new way to work on my future projects.

Udaka-sensei’s teaching method helped me get rid of the feeling of being just an outsider trying to get a grasp of a different culture. Through conversations before or after okeiko, he shared his insights with me and helped shape the way I look at theatre today. And for that, I will always be thankful to him and to the INI members. There is an infinitely long path ahead of me. One that I cannot wait to continue walking on. 

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.


  • 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

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.


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.



INI Trainees: Tina Dermois

The INI Summer Intensive Program 2017 is now over. Here in Kyoto, a cool breeze is blowing and the hills that surround the city are getting ready to turn into their gorgeous autumn color. As always after one of our intensive workshop, we publish comments from the participants on our blog. Here we introduce trainee Tina Dermois. Tina is a masters student from Leiden University, currently enrolled in the Study in Kyoto Program at Ritsumeikan University. She is interested in Japanese arts and crafts and is currently working on a thesis on Noh prints. This summer she took the INI Summer Intensive Program in order to deepen her knowledge of Noh through practice.

Diego Pellecchia, course coordinator.

My experience with the INI

by Tina Dermois

Before one of my fellow students at Leiden University told me about this program, I had never heard about it before. I knew that there are lessons provided for amateurs, but it had never occurred to me that it would be possible to participate in this kind of intensive program. However, when I found out about this opportunity, I was immediately hyped up. Of course, I was still not sure if I would be able to attend this summer, but it would be a good chance to come in contact with Noh other than books and videos and a valuable addition to my practical knowledge for my final MA Thesis on Noh in woodblock prints. There is no better way to understand an art form than by practicing itself.

To be honest, when I was invited to participate I was not sure what I was supposed to expect of the okeiko and the teacher(s). I read through the schedule, but I was still not sure if the lessons were going to be strict or the opposite, or if I would be able to remember a whole piece. So, I was quite nervous the first day at practice. We started the day with some general explanation about noh, their masks and costumes by Toshishige Udaka, the oldest son of Michishige Udaka, and Diego Pellecchia. After that, we had to walk or rather glide across the floor. It was really complicated because you were supposed to keep your posture straight and relaxed while moving to the other side of the stage and keep your body at height. Throughout the lessons, it was quite hard thinking about all the tips that the teachers gave us, but in the end, everyone was able to remember the whole routine. Moreover, these past ten days of practice were also interesting because we were able to follow classes from three different teachers and observe how they all performed the same piece in a slightly different way up close which was a rare opportunity. This made it also a little more confusing to remember the movements sometimes when we were to imitate them.


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What was also really nice about the program was that it was quite diverse. We did not only practice dancing but also chanting and meditating. Throughout the ten days, there was a comfortable atmosphere where we could ask many questions to the actors while having tea and a snack.

However, what I liked the most was the opportunity to visit Noh performances not only indoors, but also outdoors. The first performance that we were lucky to see the final rehearsals for one of the pieces we visited. The other one was performed at Fushimi Inari, a famous shrine in Kyoto which became one of the most memorable Noh performances I have ever seen thanks to the setting. The performance began just when the sun was setting and enveloped the stage, shining on the mask and the hair decorations of the main actor mystifying the whole scene while the wind was blowing causing the leaves to softly rustle. Lastly, we were able to attend a performance inside the temple Hōrinji, where we were sitting on the same “stage” as the rite was acted out. The actor was so close to us that it was almost impossible not to feel the power and spirituality of the role and the performer.

Thanks to the classes and the performances provided by INI, I will never be able to look at Noh in the same way. It was an unforgettable experience and if I have the chance I would definitely want to participate once more.

INI trainees – Hana Lethen


Hana Lethen

Hana Lethen lives in Texas and is a junior at Princeton University majoring in Comparative Literature, with a focus on Japanese and Russian language and culture. She spent her spring semester 2016 in Kyoto studying Japanese language, society, and traditional theater through Columbia University’s Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies.

Hana decided to take her exploration of Noh to a higher level, attending a number of performances along with fellow KCJS students, and also practicing Noh chant and dance with the INI. Here are a few insightful reflections on her experience.

Diego Pellecchia, INI Junior Director

Discovering Noh Through Dance

by Hana Lethen

When I asked Monica Bethe, the professor for a course on Noh that I took this past semester, for support regarding my final paper comparing ballet and dance in Noh theater, I was expecting book recommendations. So, I was a bit incredulous when she suggested that I take lessons— “the best way to learn is to dobut soon realized what a great opportunity had presented itself.

With an introduction and much help from Diego Pellecchia, who was co-teaching my Noh course, I went to okeiko every week during my last month in Kyoto. On the first day, I was very nervous. The only thing I knew to expect was that okeiko would be very different from practicing ballet, which I have done since I was five years old. I had an impression of Noh as a very traditional and elite art, so I expected okeiko to be somewhat rigid.

However, when I entered the okeikoba, I was surprised by the intimate and almost relaxed atmosphere. First, we spent about an hour having tea and chatting with Udaka-sensei, who, for all his talents and experience, was very kind and not at all intimidating. It was during this tea session that I began to realize that the constrained schedule of normal life does not apply to the okeikoba. Time here is fluid; okeiko starts and ends basically when Udaka-sensei deems appropriate. Noh is a combination of religious ritual and artneither of these can be rushed.


Learning the hiraki kata

We began my first lesson with a bit of practice chanting the text which accompanied the dance from Tsurukame which I was to learn. I have always dreaded singing or speaking onstage, so my thoughts at this point were along the lines of “I came here to learn the dance, not the chanting…” But, I realized that a large part of the beauty of Noh comes from the unity of dance and poetic text, so I overcame my initial reservations.

Learning the dance, too, proved to be as much about “letting go” as it was about precisely learning the movements. Having extensive ballet experience was helpful in terms of coordination, but it also meant that I had some assumptions about dance lessons that were challenged in okeiko. At first, I somewhat expected Udaka-sensei to break down each movement for me, as a ballet teacher would do. More than this, however, my okeiko involved watching Udaka-sensei’s movements and imitating them as carefully as possible. Like much Japanese traditional fine art, dance in Noh is subtle, but expressive; restrained, but powerful. Although some movements felt unfamiliar, I tried to understand the general flow of the dance.

I was impressed by the atmosphere at the okeikoba of humility and of respect for the art of Noh. I was also touched by the attention Udaka-sensei devoted to each of his pupils—even to me, a complete novice. Reading and learning about Noh, and also seeing Noh performances, as part of my academic course was extremely valuable, but getting a small glimpse from the performer’s perspective in okeiko made Noh come alive for me in an entirely new, exciting way. Professor Bethe was right—I am not sure how I would have written my final paper for her and Diego’s course without firsthand experience of dance in Noh. And, ultimately, I gained much more from okeiko than a final paper. I developed very special appreciation for Noh through an experience that I would love to have again if I get the chance.

Thank you, INI!


Chant lesson with Udaka Norishige

Only one position left – INI Summer Intensive Program 2016

If you are considering applying to the INI Summer Intensive Program, hurry up! There is only one position left before we close applications.

The INI – International Noh Institute is now accepting applications for its 2016 Summer Intensive Program. Participants will join INI members for a 2-week intensive training period. Read more: INI Summer Intensive Program 2016

INI summer training 2015 – introducing Dorothée Neff

2238 Kopie

Dorothée Neff

Dorothée Neff is a young member of the Berliner Ensemble, the legendary theatre company founded by Bertolt Brecht in Berlin soon after the end of WWII. Dorothée has spent a month studying Noh with Udaka Michishige and the INI, seeking to expand her knowledge of performance beyond the boundaries of Western theatre. It has been a great pleasure to welcome her and see her develop dance and chant skills in such a short time. Sadia Gordon, whom we introduced in an earlier post, and Dorothée formed a great combo, helping each other as they moved through their first steps in the world of Noh. Below are some reflections she was kind enough to send us. I love the way she describes the INI as an intimate group in which the Noh tradition is transmitted from heart to heart, mind to mind, body to body.

Diego Pellecchia, INI  Junior Director

My first time in Japan, practicing Noh

by Dorothée Neff

 After performing in Robert Wilsons “Faust I & II” at the Berliner Ensemble, I very  much felt the desire to travel to Japan to learn more about Noh Theatre, since I could feel a very strong influence of Japanese culture and theatre on his theatrical work with us actors in Berlin. Before my first lesson at the Okeikoba, Diego Pellecchia introduced me and three of my fellow students to Japanese manners – how we should sit, greet, behave and talk in front of our teacher, Udaka Michishige. I soon realized that Japanese culture and Noh theatre go hand in hand together and I could never do one without being conscious about the other.

 The first day I went to the okeikoba, I entered a room with a wooden stage and a table in the front. It felt as if time passed slower. When entering and leaving the rehearsal room we would first take off our shoes in front of the rehearsal room, enter and kneel in front of Udaka Michishige and our fellow students, bow and thank them for giving us the chance to study with him. In doing so every day, I felt like I was entering a very new and unique place, very different from everything I knew before. In the same breath I felt the power of tradition and heritage and how important it is to have a sense of where one is coming from.


From left to right, Sadia Gordon, Udaka Michishige, Dorothée Neff

 A very special time during my stay in Kyoto at the International Noh Institute was an intensive three day rehearsal period in Matsuyama with Udaka Michishige, Diego Pellecchia and Rebecca Ogamo Teele, during which I had the stage, time and support to practice “Shojo” intensively. Since every movement in Noh Theatre, every gesture is very slow, I felt how important it is to be completely aware and conscious, with all of my body and energy, how important it is to stretch out my body, to fill the room with my energy and spirit. What I enjoyed most was the chanting. First I needed time to grasp the different pitches and sounds when chanting Noh in Japanese, but after Matsuyama, I felt I became more familiar with the sounds and pitches. “Familiar” is definitely a word I would use when describing the INI. It is a very intimate, one-to-one teaching atmosphere, something I had searched for for a very long time, and never found back home, but found when I came to the INI in Kyoto. I only realized after leaving Kyoto how much I missed and longed for “time”, “traditions” and  “familiarity” as in a sense of trust and well-being based on a shared etiquette of respect.

 When I came back to Germany, my friends and family asked me what I learned and what I could take on board from Japan, but I never knew what to say in the beginning, although I knew there was something. But it wasn’t until an audition, when I felt how much time, and space I took when speaking, moving, breathing, and observing, that I knew what it was. A teacher once said to me: “A pianist would not leave out one note when playing Beethoven, so why would you, as an actress, rush through your lines?” And now, after coming back from Japan, I feel how much I enjoy saying my words, how important it is for me that those down stage understand what I mean. For the first time, there is space, and I take it, with all of me, my breath and soul and it feels alive.

INI summer training 2015 – introducing Sadia Gordon

Dear INI members and supporters, greetings from an unusually fresh Kyoto! It’s Diego here. While the temperature might be lower than usual, we are looking forward to a hot summer full of events and training opportunities here at the INI headquarters. Many international students are going to join the INI summer training, and we would like to give them a chance to introduce themselves and explain why they chose to study Noh with the INI. I always enjoy learning how different paths and life experiences can lead to the study of Noh theatre. So here is our first guest, Sadia Gordon, sharing her first impression of the INI Noh training in Kyoto.


Sadia Headshots-7878

Sadia Gordon (New Zealand)

My name is Sadia Gordon. I am a 22 year old actor in training, studying Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec in Auckland, New Zealand. In our third and final year of study, we are given six weeks to go out and explore something that we are interested in, connected with the field of work we would like to go into. At Unitec, we are lucky enough to have John Davies as our Head of Department. John has been to Japan on several occasions to study Noh Theatre.

In my first year at drama school, John did a small performance of a Noh Theatre play in full costume with the wig and mask. I remember being amazed by his stillness and precision, and thinking that would be something I would find very hard to do. I had been thinking about what I wanted to explore for secondment, in terms of what my main challenges are as an actor and what would help me get to the place I want to be before graduating.

This idea of feeling completely grounded and connecting with the breath has been something that I have found hard throughout my acting training. However, I have found that when I do reach this calm, centred place, my thoughts are so much clearer on stage and I can really tune into the intentions of my character. During a meditation class, led by John, I suddenly felt completely connected to myself, without any outside noise distracting me. I realised this is the direction I need to go in. I knew that Noh Theatre would be a way for me to further develop my stage presence while also connecting with myself and my base. I thought that learning Noh in Japan would be the ultimate way to immerse myself in the culture and really get to understand the art form. I worked 12 hour shifts for 3 long months at a vegetable factory in Christchurch, New Zealand to save up and I am now seeing how worth it that was!

Udaka Michishige and Sadia Gordon

Udaka Michishige and Sadia Gordon

Japan is very different from New Zealand, but I also see some similarities which make me feel like I am at home. Kyoto is such a beautiful, fresh place. I feel very calm and safe here. I have found people to be so kind and generous and interested in what I have to say, which I think can be very rare these days. I can’t believe that I am surrounded by beautiful temples and I can go and sit in any one of them, for as long as I want to. I feel so lucky that I am able to be here, working under Udaka Michishige’s tuition, as John did years ago.

My first Okeiko was incredible. I was very nervous, but as soon as I stood up on the butai with my tabi on, I could feel my feet firmly on the ground and I felt very at ease, within the structure of my movements.  I hope that in 5 weeks, when it comes time for me to go back home, I can take with me some of the beauty and simplicity of traditional life here. I am realising how important and healthy it is for us to take time out of our busy lifestyles, full of noise and technology to sit and listen.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.

Sadia Gordon