Watch Noh Theater Outdoors In Tokyo! With English Support And Workshops

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A special Noh performance will be held on October 11 and 12, 2019, in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. English support is available. The performance includes a workshop that allows a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

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An Event to Remember! Watch Japanese Performing Arts in Tokyo

Noh stage

The Noh stage of Kita Noh Theatre

A fascinating side of Tokyo is that the latest developments in arts and technology coexist with traditional culture. This contrast gives dynamism and freshness to Japanese culture, so how about experiencing it for yourself when visiting Japan?

Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

A special outdoor Noh theater performance will be held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum on October 11 and 12, 2019. It's a great opportunity to watch Japanese performing arts with English support in a garden in the heart of the metropolis.

What's best, the tickets only cost 3,000 yen (1,500 yen for students), a very reasonable price for a Noh event of this scale!

Event Details and Highlights

Noh Funa Benkei

Noh "Funa-Benkei" (Photo: Yutaka Ishida)

"Noh theater in the garden - Experience Japanese Beauty in an Urban Forest" is a two-day event held on a special temporary stage in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum on October 11 and 12, 2019. The program of each day includes a Noh theater performance with English guidance and a workshop corner.

The two plays in the program, Kurozuka ("Black Mound") and Funa-Benkei ("Benkei in a Boat"), are famous Noh works that each relates to the "mountains" and the "sea," the two aspects that define the natural environment of Japan.

Noh theater is a traditional performing art that has been loved in Japan since the fourteen century. Noh performances are based on stories that are well-known and dear to the Japanese and consist of masked acting, dance, and chant.

Noh is one of the arts that you should definitely enjoy if you wish to have a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

Noh "Kurozuka" - Story and Highlights

Noh Kurozuka

Noh "Kurozuka" (Photo: Maejima Photo Studio)

Noh "Kurozuka" ("Black Mound") tells the story of a group of ascetics who travel to Tohoku, the northern regions. They get to spend the night in the shabby hut of an old woman who lives in Adachigahara, at the foot of Mt. Adatara (present-day Fukushima).

The woman shows them a spinning wheel telling them with sadness that it resembles the endless cycle of rebirth the souls can never escape from.

Noh Kurozuka

Noh "Kurozuka" (Photo: Maejima Photo Studio)

The old woman goes out to bring firewood asking the monks not to peek into her back room in her absence. However, the monks break their promise and open the door to the room only to find in there a mound of corpses.

Enraged, the woman transforms into an ogre, her real face, and chases the monks out. She is weakened by their prayers and she eventually disappears in the night storm.

This Noh play reflects a Buddhist worldview while being very dynamic at the same time. Ogres in Noh express both sadness and anger and are performed using the demon mask called "Hannya". Kurozuka is one of the only three plays where this mask is used.

Noh "Funa-Benkei" - Story and Highlights

Noh Funa Benkei

Noh "Funa-Benkei" (Photo: Yutaka Ishida)

Funa-Benkei ("Benkei in a Boat") shows an episode from the story of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a twelveth century hero who at one point was forced to flee from his brother, a powerful political and military commander.

The night before he left Kyoto with his faithful retainers, Yoshitsune asks his lover, the beautiful Shizuka, to perform the elegant dance she was famous for. Although he regrets parting with her, Yoshitsune has to leave Shizuka behind. She goes away in tears.

Noh Funa Benkei

Noh "Funa-Benkei" (Photo: Yutaka Ishida)

The group travels by sea and, at night, they are attacked by the ghosts of warriors whom Yoshitsune had defeated in battle. One of them, general Tomomori, had transformed into a vengeful ghost attacking Yoshitsune with his naginata (glaive). He is defeated by Yoshitsune thanks to the prayers of Benkei, one of the hero's retainers who was also an ascetic.

Funa-Benkei is one of the most popular works in the Noh repertory, being loved for its content that combines a heartbreaking love story with an action-filled battle scene.

Noh Workshop - Learn How to Play Noh Instruments!

Noh drum workshop

Stick drum experience
Each performance will be preceeded by a workshop where visitors can touch the objects used during the performance and even play the instruments. On the first day (October 11), guests can see and experience how the stage objects are used during the performances on both days. On the second day (October 12), the stick drum (shown above), the large drum, the small hand drum, and the flute.

Participants have the chance to listen to professional performers introducing the features of each instrument and the basics of playing them.

The experience will help you deepen your understanding of Noh, an art in which rhythm is extremely important for keeping the audience engaged.

The Venue - A Beautiful Garden in the Heart of Tokyo!

Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

For this event, a special Noh stage will be set up in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum was built as the residence of Prince Asaka in 1933 and was opened as an art museum in 1983. The architecture and design of the building are very beautiful and detailed, being the work of international artists.

The garden of the museum consists of three areas: the lawn, the Japanese Garden, and the European Garden. It is in this green oasis, against the background of the city, that this special Noh performance will be held.

October is also the month when the foliage starts turning red, so this is a great chance to see beautiful fall foliage in Tokyo.

Kita Nohgakudo

Kita Noh Theatre

Noh theater can only be performed on a Noh stage. Because the actor's vision field is extremely narrow when he's wearing a mask, the four pillars at the points of the square Noh stage are essential for the actor to know at every moment where on the stage he stands.

This is why a temporary Noh stage will be set up in the museum garden. It is actually customary to have outdoor Noh performances outdoors in the warmer months, with the sky, greenery, and breeze joining in the performance.

In case of rainy weather, the venue will be moved to the Kita Noh Theatre (Kita Roppeita XIV Commemorative Noh Theatre), which is located nearby and has a covered Noh stage.

Event Details and How to Buy Tickets

Noh theater in the garden - Experience Japanese Beauty in an Urban Forest
October 11 (Friday), 2019: Workshop from 18:00, Noh "Kurozuka" from 19:00
October 12 (Saturday), 2019: Workshop from 13:00, Noh "Funa-Benkei" from 14:30
Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum (or Kita Noh Theatre if it rains)

Nearest station: Shirokanedai Station (Toei Mita Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line), Meguro Station (JR Yamanote Line, Tokyu Meguro Line)
Access: 6-minute walk from Shirokanedai Station (Exit 1, 2); 7-minute walk from Meguro Station
Telephone number: +81-03-3443-0201 (10:00-18:00)

Nearest station: Meguro Station (JR Yamanote Line/Tokyu Meguro Line/Tokyo Metro Namboku Line/Toei Mita Line)
Access: 6-minute walk from Meguro Station
Telephone number: +81-3-3491-8813
Website: (Japanese)


Ticket price: General 3,000 yen, Students 1,500 yen
Reservations (English):
Tickets Today
Tickets Booth info:
Telephone: +81-3-6228-1062 (10:00-18:00 Weekdays)
Telephone: +81-120-240-1062 (10:00-18:00 Weekdays)
Kita Noh Theatre website: (Japanese)
Telephone: +81-3-3491-8813 (10:00-18:00, Irregular holidays)

Enjoy Noh Theater in Tokyo!

Noh Funa Benkei

Noh "Funa-Benkei" (Photo: Yutaka Ishida)

Noh theater performances with English guidance are still rare. Don't miss out this opportunity to watch iconic Noh plays that have been loved by the Japanese people for centuries in a special outdoor performance.

Watching Noh outside while hearing the leaves rustle and feeling the breeze is a unique experience deeply rooted in Japanese culture.

This event is organized by Arts Council Tokyo, which offers a series of programs for international visitors who wish to experience Japanese culture.

Many of these programs are offered for free! The workshops include the weekly Nihon Buyo Japanese Dance Workshop, the Shamisen of Nagauta program, and the Engei program.

For details, please refer to the official page of Arts Council Tokyo Traditional Culture Programs.

For inquiries: Tokyo Tradition Office, Arts Council Tokyo
Telephone: +81-3-5428-3655
Official website:

Organized by Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture
Co-organized by Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture
Supported by and in cooperation with Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Arts Council Tokyo

Written by Ramona Taranu
Main image: Noh "Funa-Benkei" (Photo: Yutaka Ishida)

Written by



Tokyo, Japan

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