A FLOWER - Enjoy A Noh Theater Performance With Translation

A FLOWER - Enjoy A Noh Theater Performance With Translation

Tokyo 2017.12.22

A special Noh theater performance provided with multilingual translation will be held on January 29th, 2018. A FLOWER gives the audience a chance to watch one of the most popular plays in the Noh repertory, Hagoromo ("The Celestial Feather Robe").

Written by Ramona Taranu

Enjoying every day as a MATCHA editor and traveler always on the road. In love with Noh theater and Japan's performing arts.

Would you like to see Noh theater during your trip to Japan, but aren't sure what performance to choose or where to go? Noh, one of Japan's traditional performing arts, requires a special type of stage that can only be found in Noh theaters. While there are several Noh theaters in Tokyo, you might have a hard time finding explanations of the program in English or a multilingual ticket reservation system.

A special Noh performance provided with a multilingual translation of the content will be held in January 2018. Titled "A FLOWER", this Noh performance will include one of the most popular plays in the Noh repertory. The audience will be able to watch the performance using NOH-Tab, a special application that provides translations of the content in English, French, and Chinese .

Take this opportunity to enjoy Noh, one of Japan's treasured traditional performing arts! Let us introduce to you some of the highlights of A FLOWER, as well as how to purchase tickets for the performance.

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A FLOWER - A Complete Noh Performance with English Translation

A FLOWER - Enjoy A Noh Theater Performance With Translation

© Yoshihiro Maejima

A FLOWER is a two-hour Noh performance that will be held on January 29th, 2018, at the Cerulean Tower Noh Theater in Shibuya. The program includes one of the most popular plays in the Noh repertory, Hagoromo ("The Celestial Feather Robe"), as well as a performance of Bo-shibari ("Tied to a Stick"), a comical play from the Kyogen repertory.

The Noh play Hagoromo has been performed since the 16th century, being loved by audiences for its sheer elegance.

Bo-shibari is a comical story about two servants tied by their master to a stick to prevent them from drinking his sake. In spite of being tied up, the two do manage to treat themselves to the master's sake in his absence. Contemporary audiences laugh at the hilarious situation in this play just as the viewers from 500 years ago did. The type of humor found in Kyogen is deeply human, overcoming any language barriers or cultural differences.

The title of the performance, A FLOWER, is a reference to one of the central aesthetic principles in the tradition of Noh. Zeami, a Noh actor from the 15th century whose work was decisive in establishing Noh as a stage art, used the word flower to describe the beauty that Noh actors should strive to achieve in their art.

According to Zeami, a Noh performance should be as elegant, beautiful and surprising as a flower grown on barren land. It should leave a strong impression, brightening the spirit of the viewers and making them seek more beauty in their lives.

Yet another meaning of the "flower" in the title is that Noh theater is in itself one of the many charms of Japan and its culture. International visitors to Japan are invited to discover it through the performance held on January 29th, 2018.

The Celestial Feather Robe - A Story about Beauty

The Noh play Hagoromo is famous for its refined take on a legend that's well-known throughout Asia. The play is set in Miho no Matsubara, a seashore at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka.

A FLOWER - Enjoy A Noh Theater Performance With Translation

© Yoshihiro Maejima
A fisherman called Hakuryo gone out fishing here finds a beautiful feather robe and decides to take it home with him. The owner of the robe, a celestial maiden (or angel) who had left her robe on the shore while she went bathing, appears and asks him to return her robe. At the fisherman's refusal, she explains that she can't return back to her home in the sky without the feather robe. At the thought that she wouldn't be able to return to the world of eternal light and beauty, she weeps.

Seeing her tears, Hakuryo's heart softens. He promises he would return her robe only if she shows him the celestial maiden's dance, which was said to be something of unequaled beauty.

The maiden accepts but tells him that she needs the feather robe to perform the dance. When the fisherman shows doubt saying that she might just go away with the robe, the angel tells him that there might be deceit on Earth, but not in heaven. This convinces Hakuryo to return her the robe.

After she puts it on, she starts performing the celestial maiden's dance, a dance that shows the beauty of the heavenly world. In the end, she disappears beyond the peak of Mt. Fuji.

The Highlights of the Play

You'll be able to enjoy Hagoromo so much more if you pay attention to a few details of the performance:

1. The Kimono, the Mask and the Crown

Take a good look at the appearance of the actor playing the leading role. The kimono used for the role of the angel is gorgeous, being decorated with sophisticated details and motifs that suggest this is a maiden coming from a world of eternal beauty.

The mask used for this role is called Wakaonna (young woman), a mask with well-balanced, beautiful traits. The maiden also wears a crown on her head. This gorgeous crown is used exclusively for the play Hagoromo. Its purpose is to show the high rank of the celestial visitor.

The Celestial Maiden's Dance

A FLOWER - Enjoy A Noh Theater Performance With Translation

© Yoshihiro Maejima

This dance is the climax of the play, the one thing that the whole audience is waiting for. Performed with wide, graceful movements, this dance is believed to resemble the angel dances described in the Buddhist scriptures which contain images of the Paradise.

The Words

"There might be deceit on Earth but not in heaven." When the celestial maiden utters these words, you might sense a kind of shiver spreading in the audience. These words reflect the Buddhist belief in a truly pure world transcending the human world. It is a belief that has lied at the core of Japanese spirituality, reflecting the traditional Buddhist worldview of the Japanese people.

The Lead Actor and the Cast of A FLOWER

The actor playing the lead role (celestial maiden) in Hagoromo is Takeda Yukifusa, a Noh actor whose stage experience spans over almost seventy years. Best known for bringing Noh theater to overseas audiences, Takeda Yukifusa and several of his disciples have been designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan.

Venue Information and How to Purchase Tickets for A FLOWER

A FLOWER - Enjoy A Noh Theater Performance With Translation

Cerulean Tower Noh Theater

A FLOWER will be performed on January 29th, 2018, from 19:00 at the Cerulean Tower Noh Theater, one of the most elegant Noh theaters in Tokyo.

The tickets for the Noh performance A FLOWER can be purchased online in English HERE and in Japanese HERE. In addition to regular seats, there will be a limited number of box seats with kaiseki (Japanese high-class cuisine) dinner available.

Please remember to download NOH-Tab, the application that will provide English translation of the words and explanations about the play. The application will be available for download from mid-January 2018.

For further information on A FLOWER, please visit the official website of the performance.

In cooperation with The Global Nohgaku Company

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