The 15th Nihon Dento Bunka Shinko Zaidan Award - Yamamoto Yasutaro (Okura Ryuu Kyougen Kata)
DVD of Kyogen, the traditional comic theatre of Japan. Yasutaro Yamamoto is the grandson of Yamamoto Tojiro III and first son of Yamamoto Noritada. This is his performance as the winner of this traditional music award. Two performances, Tsukimi Zato and Rakuami. 41 minutes, performed in May 2011.
Gotai-Fushi Yamato Shinkyoku Sho II - Performance Selections from the Five Main Schools of Japanese Traditional Noh
Collection of performances by the five main schools of Japanese Noh comes with Japanese, English, Chinese subtitles and liner notes. 103 minutes, filmed at National Noh Theatre in May 2010.
1. Kanze school Maijishi 'Takasago' / Tetsunojo Kanze (shite), Rokurobei Fujita (fue), Genjiro Okura (kotsuzumi), Mitsuo Yasufuku (ohtsuzumi), Motonori Kanze (taiko), Kiyokazu Kanze (jiuta)
2. Konparu school Kotsuzumi Iccho 'Yashima' / Ujin Sakurama (utai), Gako Araki (kotsuzumi)
3. Kita school Maibayashi 'Hagoromo' / Akio Awaya (shite), Hiroyuki Matsuda (fue), Genjiro Okura (kotsuzumi), Takashi Yamamoto (ohtsuzumi), Kunikazu Konparu (taiko), Shigeru Nagashima (jiutai)
4. Kongo school Taiko Iccho 'Tenko' / Hisanori Kongo (utai), Takashi Yamamoto (taiko)
5. Hojo shcool Maibayashi 'Midare' / Kannosuke Kondo (shite), Senko Isso (fur), Genjiro Okura (kotsuzumi), Tadao Kamei (ohtsuzumi), Kunikazu Konparu (taiko), Toshiki Asakura (jiutai)
6. Isso school Fue Ikkan 'Koi no Netori' / Senko Isso (fue)
7. Kongo school Kotsuzumi Iccho 'Youchi Soga' / Hisanori Kongo (utai), Genjiro Okura (kotsuzumi)
8. Kanze school Ohtsuzumi Iccho 'Ominameshi' / Kiyokazu Kanze (utai), Tadao Kamei (ohtsuzumi)
9. Konparu school Taiko Iccho 'Kazuraki' / Ujin Sakurama (utai), Kunikazu Konparu (taiko)
Kanze Ryu - Hajitomi, Rikka Kuyo. NHK Nohgaku Special Selection
83 minutes, NTSC Region Code 2. 1996. Noh plays performed by the 26th grand master of the Kanze school, Kiyokazu Kanze. Hajitomi is the episode 'Yugao' (Moonflower) from the Tale of the Genji. A Buddhist monk from Kyoto prays to the spirits of flowers. A woman appears and offers a beautiful white flower, a moonflower. He listens to the tale of a lover affair between Hikaru Genji and Lady Yugao from a villager, while later, the ghost of Lady Yugao appears to the monk, narrates her memory of her love and dances. We later learn this all took place within the monk's dream.
Hosho-Ryu - Aya no Tsuzumi. NHK Nohgaku Special Selection
58 minutes, NTSC Region Code 2. 1991. Aya no Tsuzumi, (The Damask Drum) is a tragedy about an Imperial Consort who knows the gardener has fallen in love with her and decides to torment him. She tells him to beat the tsuzumi drum if he wants to meet her by a pond. When he tries to sound the drum he realizes it is made of twill and cannot sound. He drowns himself in the pond and returns as an evil ghost to torment his tormentor. Shigeo Matsumoto was formerly a Living National Treasure who died in 2003.
AKIYO TOMOEDA, KAN HOSHO
Kita-Ryu - Sumidagawa. NHK Nohgaku Special Selection
84 minutes, NTSC Region Code 2. 1996. Sumidagawa is an episode of the Tale of Ise. It is a sad story of a mother, a 'crazy woman' who gets on a boat to cross the Sumidagawa river. The boatman tells the passengers it is one year since a child, Umewakamaru, died on the shore. The woman stays on the boat after everyone else has got off, and cries. She reveals the deceased child was her son. At a ceremony, she beats a gong and the spirit of Umewakamaru appears. She tries to hug him, but the ghost slips through her arms. Akiyo Tomoeda and Kan Hosho are both Living National Treasures.
SHOROKU SEKINE, YUKITO SEKINE, YUKIMARU SEKINE
Kanze-Ryu- Eboshiori. NHK Nohgaku Special Selection
83 minutes, NTSC Region Code 2. 2004. The Sekine family is one of the great Noh families. Shoroku was born in 1930 and is acclaimed for his whole hearted style. His son Yoshito was born in 1959 and is recognized as a talent in his own right. Eboshiori is a genzai (present day) noh story, in which the performers act out spectacular sword fights.
SENGORO SHIGEYAMA, SHINGO SHIGEYAMA, MANSAI NOMURA, YUKIO ISHIDA, MANZO NOMURA, MAN NOMURA
Okura-Ryu - Futari Daimyo, Izumi-Ryu - Kanaoka Dainagon, Izumi-Ryu - Funawatashi Muko NHK Nohgaku Special Selection- Kyogen
113 minutes, NTSC Region Code 2. 1990, 2006, 2007. Kyogen are short comical skits historically performed between serious noh dramas. Kyogen actors are masters of exaggerated facial expressions and comic gestures. The actors do not usually wear masks, and the acting style is more realistic than in noh. This DVD features three kyogen plays performed by great masters. In Futari Daimyo (1990) a passerby is goaded into carrying a warrior's sword, with which he forces the warrior and companion to entertain him by pretending to be a dog and a doll that springs up when it is knocked over. Sengoro and Shingo Shigeyama are the sons of Living National Treasure Sensaku Shigeyama, with Sengoro being deemed an Intangible Cultural Property of Japan. Mansai Nomura, born in 1966 and son of Living National Treasure Mansaku Nomura, plays the lead role in Kanaoka Dainagon (2006). He is joined by another young actor, Yukio Ishida, recognized as an Intangible Cultural Asset. Man Nomura and his second son, Manzo are Izumi school kyogen masters. Manzo succeeded as the 9th generation Manzo Nomura in 2005 and Man Nomura as the first generation Man Nomura in 2000. They perform in Funawatashi Muko (Bridegroom Aboard Ship) in 2007.
KIKUO TOMOEDA, TATSUO YASUTAKU, DAIGORO FUJITA, KIKUO AWAYA, YOSHITARO KO, MANZABURO UMEKAWA, AKIRA KANAI, KOTOBUKI UZAWA, ICHIKAZU SUGI, ROKURO UMEKAWA, HARUAKI YOKOYAMA
Iccho - Kanjincho, Ikkan - Shishi, Iccho - Kasa no Dan, Dokugin - Kumano, Iccho - Youchi Soga, Ikkan - Nanayo Rankyoku, Iccho - Tama no Dan. NHK Nohgaku Special Selection
58 minutes, NTSC Region Code 2. 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 2001, 2007. Special scenes from a variety of plays. Iccho is a noh performance with one percussionist and singer. This is thought of as an especially difficult skill. Ikkan is a noh performance featuring only one fuekata, or flute player. Again, this is thought of as a particularly difficult skill, with the breathing and tone accentuated. Dokugin is a solo sequence. The noh actors are the cream of the noh world, nearly all of them Living National Treasures from the past and present.
SENSAKU SHIGEYAMA, SENNOJO SHIGEYAMA AND OTHERS
Mutsugoro - Super Kyogen
Region Code 2, NTSC. Mutsugoro (Mudskipper) is the first of the 'Super Kyogen' trilogy written by Takeshi Umehara and performed by the Shigeyama family. Shigeyama are a family of Okura school kyogen actors, who date back about 200 years, the present Sensaku being the fourth generation, succeeding his title in 1994 and recognized as a Living National Treasure. These 'super kyogen' are based around environmental issues, Mutsugoro, being about the demise of the mudskipper fish, that lives in muddy areas between the sea and land. The costumes and poster (and DVD front cover) were designed by famous graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo. DVD includes interviews with Sensaku Shigeyama and Takeshi Umehara.
SENSAKU SHIGEYAMA, SENNOJO SHIGEYAMA AND OTHERS
Namashimas Clones - Super Kyogen
Region Code 2, NTSC. Second in the 'Super Kyogen' trilogy written by Takeshi Umehara and performed by Sensaku Shigeyama, Sennojo Shigeyama and other members of the Shigeyama family. Namashimas Clones is themed around baseball, and features clones of popular Japanese baseball players. DVD includes interviews with Tadanori Yokoo and Sensaku Shigeyama.
SENSAKU SHIGEYAMA, SENNOJO SHIGEYAMA AND OTHERS
Osama to Kyoryu (The King and the Dinosaur) - Super Kyogen
Region Code 2, NTSC. Final part of the Super Kyogen trilogy, is themed around the subject of war. This play was staged in Paris in 2004. Includes interviews with Sennojo Shigeyama and other members of the cast.
Shunkan, Shojo Midare
NTSC, Region code 2, 94 minutes. Japanese only. Hisao Kanze (1925-1978), brother of Hideo Kanze is a legendary noh actor. Shunkan (filmed in 1975) is the story of the Buddhist preist, Shunkan, of the Shingon sect and two nobles, Taira no Yasuyori and Fujiwara no Naritsune who are exiled to Kikaigashima or devil's island. It features the Shunkan mask, that expresses the despair of the character. Shojo Midare (filmed in 1964) - the Disorderly Tipster Sprite, takes place in China, at a village on the Yangtze river. A sprite (shite) living in the sea meets a wine seller called Gao-feng (waki). The sprite gets drunk and dances, and Gao-feng is blessed with a never ending vat of wine. Midare is a special dance that takes place in this play.
Sotoba Komachi Ichido no Shidai, Matsumushi Kanpai no Mai
NTSC, Region code 2, 81 minutes. Japanese only. Rokuro Umekawa (1907-1979) was famed for his exqusite, delicate performance and beautiful voice. Sotoba Komachi (filmed in 1967) - Komachi on the Stupa- centres around the courtier and poetess Ono no Komachi. She is abandoned and alone in old age, but in her younger days was famed for her beauty and rejected many suitors. A priest from Mt. Koya notices her resting upon a decaying wooden post, which is a stupa, a symbol of the Buddha. Later, Komachi is possessed by the spirit of one of her old suitors, Fukakusa no Shosho. Matsumushi, performed in 1962, - The Chirp of the Crickets- is situated on the outskirts of present day Osaka. Two men walking through a pine grove near Abeno, were captivated by the sound of crickets. One of them ventured into the forest but did not return. The other man found him lying dead, and later always returned to the same place, compelled to do so by the sound of the crickets.
Yokihi, Ibayashi - Soushi Arai Komachi
NTSC, Region code 2, 120 minutes. Japanese only. Yokihi (filmed in 1983) is one of the karagoto-mono or Chinese pieces in the noh repertoire. Soushi Arai Komachi (filmed in 1992) - Komachi Washing a Book- takes place the night before a poetry contest at the Imperial Palace, and is about the Heian period poetess Ono no Komachi.
HISAO KANZE, ROKURO UMEKAWA, KIKUO TOMOEDA
Noh Box Set - Shunkan, Shojo Midare, Sotoba Komachi Ichido no Shidai, Matsumushi Kanpai no Mai,Yokihi, Ibayashi - Soushi Arai Komachi
The above three DVDs in a box set.
YAMATO SHINKYOKU SHO
Yamato Shinkyoku Sho - Nohgaku Utai to Hayashi no Sekai
DVD of utai (vocal) and hayashi (instrumental part)of Nohgaku by leading performers. Produced by Genjiro Okura, one of the top hayashi-kata of Nohgaku. Comes with Japanese / English subtitles and liner notes in Japanese / English / Chinese. 91 minutes includes the 'making of' this dvd.
Part 1 : Yamato no Kamigami
1. Okina 2. Sanbaso 3. Kanmai 4. Minwa 5. Kakko 6. Nomori 7. Shishi
Part 2 : Utai to Tsuzumi no Sekai
8. Utaura 9. Matsumushi 10. Kanjincho 11. Mitsuidera
Numazu no Dan from Igagoe Dochu Sugoroku
DVD of bunraku (puppet theatre) filmed in Tokyo, May 2008. 45 minutes performance plus interview with Sumitayu Takemoto. NTSC Region Code All. Born in 1923, Sumitayu Takemoto is a Living National Treasure of bunraku, the puppet theatre of Japan. His late father, Sumitau VI, was also a designated Living National Treasure. True performing ability for a gidayu or narrator is all important in bunraku and Sumitayu Takemoto displays all the necessary attributes in abundance. It requires many years of training and is remarkably virtuosic drawing on dynamics, power and a huge vocal and pitch range, almost to the limits of human possibility. Sumitayu conveys the attraction of the music and expresses the emotions of the characters. He is accompanied by Kinshi Nozawa (shamisen) and Seishiro Tsurusawa (tsure, kokyu). Numazu no Dan is the most popular act of the play Igagoe Dochu Sugoroku, which was staged for the first time in 1783. It is based around Heisaku, a poor old man, his daughter Oyone and a city merchant, Jubei.
MANSAI NOMURA, YOSHIMASA KANZE AND OTHERS
Noh to Hana no Niya - Kyogen : Kane no Ne / Noh : Tsuchigumo
With English and Japanese subtitles, English text, high quality wide screen and multi angle. Region Code 2. Two Nights of Noh performance by two young stars, Mansai Nomura and Yoshimasa Kanze in collaboration with Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) of Sogetsu school by Akane Kushigawara. The Kyogen play is Kane no Ne (The Ring of Bells) and the noh play is Tsuchigomo (Ground Spider) noted for being visually spectacular and entertaining. It's most famous scene is when the shite throws spider threads made of Japanese paper. Special feature has interviews with the performers and a guide to the costumes. Performed in Sapporo, Hokkaido. 80 minutes plus special features 60 minutes.
MANSAI NOMURA, YOSHIMASA KANZE AND OTHERS
Noh to Hana no Niya - Dojoji
With English and Japanese subtitles, English text, high quality wide screen and multi angle. Region Code 2. Two Nights of Noh performance by two young stars, Mansai Nomura and Yoshimasa Kanze in collaboration with Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) of Sogetsu school by Akane Kushigawara. Dojoji (The Temple of Dojoji) is set at the temple in modern day Wakayama Prefecture and centres around a new bell for the temple. The highlight of the play is the ranbyoshi (mad rhythm) dance which gradually increases in tempo, while the chorus and dancer describe the origin of the temple, and the spring evening with cherry blossoms. Special feature has interviews with the performers and a guide to the costumes. Performed in Sapporo, Hokkaido. 95 minutes plus special features 60 minutes.
Kiyoshi Katayama is a shite (main actor) of the Kanze school of noh. He was born in Kyoto in 1964, the son of Kurouemom Katayama IX and grandson of Yachiyo Inoue IV, head of the Inoue school of Kyomai dance. He made his first performance as a principle actor when aged 8 in 1970 and has received numerous awards and is director of the Kyoto Kanze Kai association and executive director of Katayama Noh and Kyomai Preservation Foundation. On this DVD are three performances. 1. Hannoh "Ishibashi" 2. Maijishi "Shojo-ran" 3. "Takasago 'Hachi Dan no Mai". 45 minutes, Region Code 2. NTSC
YOSHIMASA KANZE, MANSAI NOMURA
With English liner notes and chapter titles, performed in January 2006 in Sapporo, Hokkaido under candlelight. The DVD includes an interview with Yoshimasa Kanze, the actor of the main character, who explains the text (in Japanese only) and costumes. There are interviews with other actors and musicians. Japanese subtitles, Hi-vision. The beautiful play Kan Tan is set in the village of Kanton in China where an innkeeper has been given a magic pillow by a monk. Whenever somebody sleeps on the pillow they awake to the truth after dreaming of the past and future. A man named Rosei arrives in search of a sage from whiom he wants to learn about enlightenment. Rosei sleeps using the pillow, afterwhich an imperial envoy arrives with a message that Rosei has been given the throne of the kingdom of So. He sits in the jewelled palanquin and is taken away towards his new life. He drinks the exilir of youth from a precious goblet during which a dancer performs the most exquisite 'dream dance' with lyrics describing the land's prosperity. He awakes to find it has all been a dream, but has found spiritual enlightenment. Region code 2, NTSC
YOSHIMASA KANZE, TSUNEYOSHI MORI
Dai Han Nya
Noh is the medieval theatre of Japan that developed during the Muromachi period (1333-1568). This superb DVD comes with English liner notes and chapter titles in English to help non-Japanese speakers navigate their way around. Noh includes a musical accompaniment with dance, and the actors perform in a highly measured style. They wear beautiful costumes and some superbly carved masks. The plays are stripped down, the stage is simple, the actors performing on a bare stage in front of a wall with a painted pine tree. The texts are considered works of profound beauty, the highest form of literature. Noh has fascinated Japanese and westerners alike for its immense grace and artistry. This performance was recorded in January 2006 in Sapporo city in Hokkaido under candlelight, the original way. The DVD includes an interview with Yoshimasa Kanze, the actor of the main character, who explains the text (in Japanese only) and costumes. There are interviews with other actors, musicians plus conversations between Yoshimasa Kanze and another famous actor, Rokuro Umewaka. With Japanese subtitles. Hi-vision, Region code 2 - NTSC.
YOSHIMASA KANZE, MANSAI NOMURA
Kanze-ryu Noh - Kanawa (The Iron Crown)
Noh is Japan's classic dance drama that also combines music and poetry into one art, each contributiion of equal value to the others. It is mainly based in the larger cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and the cultural capital, Kyoto. It is performed by professional artists, mostly male, who have passed down the practice though their family members for numerous generations. Watching noh is a bit like watching the tea ceremony, an aesthetic experience, full of experience under the influence of Zen buddhism. Kanze-ryu was the first school of noh and has retained many of the original concepts of allusion and restraint. Kanawa (The Iron Crown) is about a woman who performs magic rituals to transform herself into a demon to avenge her unfaithful husband. This ritual involves placing an iron band with three burning candles (the kanawa) on her head. Perfomed under candlelight in the traditional way. Region code 2, NTSC with Japanese subtitles.
YOSHIMASA KANZE, MANSAI NOMURA
Kanze-ryu Noh - Momijigari (Maple Viewing)
Momijigari is centred around the dangers of drink-induced lust and deceit. On Mt. Togakushi lives a witch disguised as a beautiful woman. She and attendants enter the stage and set up a picnic site to view maple and drink sake.Taira no Koremochi who is on a hunt with some retainers them in the distance and sends an attendant to ask who they are. He returns saying they are a group of ladies and their mistress, who appear of noble birth. The good natured Koremochi decides it is rude to pass by and goes to greet them. The woman asks him to stay and share some sake. He drinks the sake and falls under the woman's /demon's spell and falls asleep. The woman dances close to him and tries not to wake him. The god of Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine on Otokoyama, sends a messenger to him in his dreams, warning him the woman is really the demon of Mount Togakushi and that he must slay her with the sword given to him by the God. Koremochi wakes and finds the sword. He fights the demon eventually overcoming and slaying the demon. Perfomed under candlelight in the traditional way. Region code 2, NTSC with Japanese subtitles.
KINTARO SAKURAMA, RYUMA SAKURAMA, ARATA HOSHO + MICHIO SAKURAMA, SHIGEYOSHI MORI, KAN HOSHO, MINEO KABURAKI
Aoi no Ue, Sanemori
89 minutes, Region Code 2, NTSC. Black and White. This DVD features a classic version of the classic play Aoi no Ue (Lady Aoi), filmed in 1936, performed by actors from the Konparu school; Kintaro Sakurama, Ryuma Sakurama and Arata Hosho. Aoi no Ue (Lady Aoi) is from the fourth category of noh plays, Zatsu Mono. It is based on Genji Monogatari, sometimes called the world's first novel, being finished in 1004. Lady Aoi who is pregnant with Genji's child, lies on her deathbed close to death (represented by a robe placed at the front of the stage). A shaman summons the spirit that is possessing her, and Princess Rokujo appears, filled with jealousy as she was a former lover of Genji. The Saint of Yokawa (a Buddhist mountain ascetic) is fetched as the shaman is powerless, and Rokujo's spirit becomes afraid eventually finding peace and enlightenment. Sanemori was filmed in 1967, also featuring actors of the Konparu school, including National Treasure Michio Sakurama (1897-1983), Shigeyoshi Mori, Kan Hosho and Mineo Kaburaki.
MINORU UMEKAWA, KAGEHIDE UMEKAWA + TETSUNOJO KANZE, SHIZUO KANZE, SHIGEYOSHI MORI
Kurama Tengu, Hakuto, Koi no Omoni
86 minutes, Region Code 2, NTSC. Black & White. Kurama Tengu and Hakuto was filmed in 1958 and features legendary actors belonging to the Kanze school, Minoru Umekawa and Kagehide Umekawa. Includes interview with Minoru Umekawa. Koi no Omoni was filmed in 1969 and also features actors from the Kanze guild, Tetsunojo Kanze, Shizuo Kanze and Shigeyoshi Mori.
ROPPEITA KITA, KANESUKE NOGUCHI + SUSUMU HAHI, KENNOSUKE KONDO + OTHERS
Hagoromo, Aya no Tsuzumi
112 minutes. Region Code 2, NTSC. Black & White & Colour. Hagorama (The Feather Mantle) is a play from the third category, katsura mono (wig pieces). Filmed in 1952 it features actors from the Hosho school, including the greats Roppeita Kita, Kanesuke Noguchi, Kenzo Matsumoto and Shigeyoshi Mori. A beautful play, Hagoromo centres around a fisherman called Hakuryo, who when approaching the shore, finds flowers falling around him mixed with a wonderful smell. He noitces a feathered cloak (hagoromo) and decides to take it home. A maiden calls out that the cloak belongs to her. She is an angel and needs the cloak to return to Heaven. The fisherman however, remains intent on keeping the cloak. The angel suffers, she gazes up at the sky and the songs of the birds of heaven grow fainter and fainter. Hakuryo can stand it no longer and gives the cloak back on condition that the angel dances for him. We are treated to a sumptuous dance and heavenly music, with the moon gleaming above Mount Fuji, until the angel disappears from sight. Aya no Tsuzumi (The Damask Drum) was filmed in 1978 is in colour and features actors from the Hosho school, Susumu Hahi, Kennosuke Kondo and Shigeyoshi Mori.
TOKUZO GOTO, SHINTARO AWAYA, KENZO MATSUMOTO + MINORU KINJO, TETSUO SHIOZU
Kayoi Komachi, Tsuru
90 minutes, Region Code 2, NTSC, Colour. Kayoi Komachi was filmed in 1973, and belongs to the fourth category Zatsu Mono, in this case kyoran mono dealing with madness or insanity. It starts in a mellow setting with a priest undergoing training. A woman visits him, bearing fruit and he discovers her identity as a poet, known for her beauty. Tsuru was filmed in 1981 featuring actors from the Kita school, Minoru Kita and Tetsuo Shiozu.
ROKURO UMEKAWA, YASUYUKI UMEKAWA, NOBUHISA ONISHI, TOKIO OTSUBO AND OTHERS
Shimai, Iccho, Maijishi Collection - Nine Noh Dances
91 minutes, Region Code 2, NTSC. All colour except track nine. Nine performances of famous noh dances (shimai, iccho and maijishi) performed by some of the most famous actors. 1. Shimai- Sanemori- Kanze school, Rokuro Umekawa 55th. 2. Shimai - Yorimasa- Kanze school, Yasuyuki Umekawa (stereo) 3. Iccho - Hashi Benkei, Nobuhisa Onishi. 4. Shimai - Sasa no Dan' - Hoshi school, Tokio Otsubo 5. Shimai - Toru - Konparu school, Kintaro Sakurama 6. Shimai - Matsukaze - Kita school, Kukuo Tomoeda 7. Shimai - Rashomon - Shimogakari - Hosho school, Yaichi Hosho 8. Maijishi- Funabenkei, Shiraha no Den- Kongo school, Iwao Kongo 9. Maijishi - Kiyomori- Kita school, Roppeita Kita (black & white)
YAGORO SHIGEYAMA, SENGORO SHIGEYAMA, MANZO NOMURA, MANNOJO NOMURA & OTHERS
Kyogen- Kirokuda, Buaku, Kenbutsu Zaemon
93 minutes, Region Code 2, NTSC. Kyogen was historically performed as the comic interludes between serious noh plays, but these days have become popular as performances in their own right. It is very different to noh; whereas the actors in noh wear stone faced expressions, in kyogen they are masters of exaggerated facial expressions. The costumes in kyogen are much simpler than those in noh, and are stylized versions of the original dress worn in medieval Japan. In kyogen, actors do not normally use masks (except for supernatural characters). This DVD features some classic kyogen plays featuring some of the genre's legendary figures. Kirokuda filmed in 1959, Okura school, with Yagoro Shigeyama, Sengoro Shigeyama and Shime Shigeyama. Buaka was filmed in 1966, Izumi school with Manzo Nomura, Mannojo Nomura, Mansaku Nomura and Goro Nomura. Kenbutsu Zaemon, filmed in 1974, Izumi school with Manzo Nomura, Mannojo Nomura.
KENZO KONDO, KENZO MATSUMOTO
Region Code 2, NTSC. Performed by two National Treasures of noh theatre, Kenzo Kondo (??-1988) and Kenzo Matsumoto (1899-1980) who were regarded as masters at conveying the atmosphere of noh from the Edo period. First broadcast on NHK in 1970. The superb noh play, Hachinoki (bonsai) is based on the story of a poor Ronin (ex-Samurai) and a visitor on a cold winter's night during the life of Tokiyori Hojo, who became governor of the Minato clan shogun. A travelling monk, comes across the meagre residence of Tsuneyo Genzayemon, who had once worked for Tokiyori and had lost his land through a relative's deception. Tsuneyo and his wife offer what comforts they can to the traveller and share their small meal of boiled millet. To provide heat for their guest, the old man cuts down his three precious bonsai trees of sakura (cherry) ume (plum) and matsu (pine) to burn in a hibachi. He tells his story of suffering and poverty and declares his loyalty to the shogunate. The second part of the play is set six months later. The travelling monk it is revealed was in fact Tokiyori in disguise. To test Tsuneyo's loyalty, Tokiyori spreads a rumour that war is about to break out. Tsuneyo arrives in old, battered armour with a rusty sword ready to fight. Tokiyori rewards him by restoring his lands, the names of these lands include the words ume, sakura and matsu in gratitude for the sacrificed trees.
ROKURO UMEWAKA, YAICHI HOUSHO
Region Code 2, NTSC. Performed by Rokuro Umewaka (1907-1979) who was famed for his exquisite, delicate performance and beautiful voice. Hayashikata also gives a magical performance. First broadcast in 1977. Sumidagawa has become known as the noh play that Benjamin Britten saw in 1956 and that inspired him to write 'Curlew River' one of his strangest works. It belongs to the fourth category (miscellaneous) that include a variety of types of plays. It was written by Zeami's son, Motomasa, who died an untimely death. It involves a mother (Shite) from Kyoto who travels to Tokyo, to the Sumidagawa (Sumida river) in search of her son who has been kidnapped by a slave trader. People make fun of this madwoman, except a boatman called Waki, who takes her across the river. A crowd gathers around a grave mound, the grave of a young boy who died on the road while being forced to travel by a slave trader. The mother learns this is the grave of her son. She collapses and prays with the others, thinking she hears his voice and sees his image, but when she tries to touch him, he disappears as the day dawns. This is one of many Madness Noh (monogurui noh), in which the main character grieves over a forced parting from a loved one.
ROPPEITA KITA, SHIGEYOSHI MORI / KIKUO TOMOEDA, KENZO MATSUMOTO
Yorimasa / Yoroboshi
Region Code 2, NTSC. Yorimasa is performed by Roppeita Kita (1874-1971), the master who was born in the Meiji period and played an active part in noh during the Taisho and Showa period. First broadcast in 1957. Yorimasa is about the battle at Uji bridge and depicts the hard fought battle and many casualties that occured. The actor dances with swords, to demonstrate how he battles the advancing army. His sword breaks leading to his death. In Yoroboshi, Kikuo Tomoeda shows his skilled performance. Originally broadcast in 1980. A blind boy called Yoroboshi is begging on the stairs of Shitennoh Temple. He inadvertently catches falling plum blossoms into his sleeves. He can smell their beauty, and comes to the realization that if the eyes of the soul are open, one can live in spiritual happiness. He dances for joy and is reunited with his father who had disowned him.
HISAO KANZE, KAN HOUSHO
Region Code 2, NTSC. Performed by Hisao Kanze (1925-1978) one of the great masters on the noh scene along with the National Treasures Kan Housho (Waki) , Shizuo Kanze (Jiutai) and Daigoro Fujita (Fue). Originallly broadcast in 1977. Izutsu (The Well Cradle) is one of the greatest noh plays. Belonging to the third category of noh (katsura mon - wig pieces) it was written by Zeami. The play is based on episode 23 of the Ise Monogatari, the 10th century classic. A travelling priest stumbles upon the Ariwara temple, where the court poet Narihira lived with his wife. The priest prays for the couple when he notices a woman placing an offering at the nearby grave. They speak to eachother and the woman confesses that Narihira still holds a place in her heart. She tells of how Narihira had an affair with a woman from far away. Once, when he had just left his wife, she sang a song wishing for his safe journey. When he heard this song, Narihira decided never to leave again. The woman described another story to do with a boy and girl who lived next door to eachother. The woman telling these stories to the priest is in fact the lady herself, and as soon as she reveals her identity she disappears. The priest tells these stories to a villager who comes by, who asks the priest to chant a sutra. The woman of the story reappears wearing the hat and robe of Narihira. She dances, pining for her husband. She glances at the moon's reflection in the water in a well. She wants to see his reflection but can see only her own. The temple bell rings and the image fades.
MICHIO SAKURAMA, HIDEO HONDA, JURO TESHIMA / YAZAEMON TESHIMA, KINJIRO EZAKI
Kurozuka / Aoi no Ue
Region Code 2, NTSC. Kurozuka is the only filmed record of the great noh actor Hideo Honda (1899-1966). National Treasure Michio Sakurama's (1897-1983) great performance is another highlight. Originally broadcast in 1957. Also a kabuki play, Kurozuka is a grave mound in Adachi ga Hara, where a demon lives. The noh version accentuates the loneliness of living in poverty, and the shame of the demon. A monk and his servant arrive at the village and spot a fire in a hut. The woman agrees to their request to stay the night, and later tells them her sad story while using her spinning wheel. She goes to collect wood and asks them not to look in her bedroom. The servant looks, sees piles of bones and limbs and when the woman returns realizes her secret has been discovered. She attacks them, they recite Buddhist mantras and she disolves into the night. Aoi no Ue is performed brilliantly by Yazaemon Teshima (1899-1978) together with other great actors including Iwao Kongo (1924-1998), Kinjiro Ezaki (1912-1987) and Sensaku Shigeyama (1896-1986). First broadcast in 1975. Aoi no Ue (Lady Aoi) is the wife of Prince Genji, the hero of Genji Monogatari, the source of many great noh dramas. Lady Aoi is pregnant with Genji's child, but now lies close to death stricken by a mysterious illness. A shaman is called in to exorcise the spirit. The living phantom of Princess Rokujo appears, one of Genji's past lovers, and who is filled with jealousy and rage. The shaman is powerless against the phantom of the Princess, and the Buddhist mountain ascetic, the Saint of Yokawa must be fetched. Once he begins his prayers, Rokujo's spirit becomes afraid. Hearing the sound of the scriptures, her soul is cleansed and she finds peace.
MANZABURO UMEWAKA I, ROPPEITA KITA XIV, SUSUMU TAKAHASHI, MANZABURO UMEWAKA II, YAICHI HOUSHO, KOJI KIHARA etc...
Collection of Shimai, Dokugin, Iccho, Maibayashi
Region Code 2, NTSC. Collection of very rare films. Maibayashi is an abbreviated style of noh, featuring only the shite or lead role, chorus and hayashi. Matsukaze is performed as maibayashi by the great actor of the Kanze School Manzaburo Umewaka I (1868-1946) who played a very active roll over three different periods, the Meiji, Taisho and Showa. Matsukaze (Pining Wind) is about a wandering priest who arrives at the Bay of Suma, and notices a solitary pine tree with a sign and a poem attached to its branches. A villager tells of two sisters who once lived there, one of who was called Matsukaze, the other Murasame. The spirits of the sisters appear in front of the priest and tell of their longing for the courier Ariwara no Yukihara who was exiled to Suma, but had returned to the capital and soon after died. The pine tree represents Yukihara, and the sisters ask the priest to comfort them through prayers. Shimai is also an abbreviated style of noh and Funa Benkei (Benkei aboard Ship) is performed by Roppeita Kita XIV of the Kita School . The play depicts an episode in the life of the brilliant young Genji commander Yoshitsune. Another Shimai 'Ugetsu' is performed by Susumu Takahashi of the Housho School. A dokugin 'Tenko' is performed by Manzaburo Umewaka II of the Kanze School and an Iccho 'Kazuraki' by Koji Kihara and others of the Kanze School.
TOJIRO YAMAMOTO DYNASTY
Kyogen of the Tojiro Yamamoto Dynasty
Kyogen is a kind of human comedy. Noh theatre is not renowned for its laughter or smiles, but they can be found in abundance in kyogen, traditionally performed as interludes during a noh drama. Kyogen actors are masters of facial and comic expressions. It is performed on the noh stage, but the actors don't wear masks and it is more realistic. Kyogen costumes are also much more simple, and no specialized male or female role specialists. The kyogen repertoire consists of about 260 short plays, divided into the Okura and Izumi schools. Tojiro Yamamoto is one of the great kyogen dynasties, from the Okura school. The plays are classified into various groups according to the subject. These include waki kyogen- in which gods appear, daimoyo kyogen- gullible feudal lords, muko onna kyogen - sons and mothers-in-law and oni yamabushi kyogen-wandering Buddhist priests. This is a 10 DVD set with each disc lasting about 60 minutes. Japanese liner notes only, no subtitles. There are 10 different performances including Suehiro, Fuku no Kami, Futari Daimyo, Yobigoe, Katatsumuri, Setsubun, Gakuami, Kubihiki and Komai.