Nohgaku Workshop for International and Japanese Students

The Gifu University Head Office for Glocalization (GHOGL) and the Center for Japanese Language and Culture co-hosted the "Nohgaku Workshop for International and Japanese Students at Yanagido-kaikan Hall, Gifu University on July 11, 2018. Approximately 60 people attended including the summer school students, international and Japanese students, and teaching and administrative staff of the university.

Mr. Madoka Mikata and Mr. Hiromichi Tamoi, who perform Noh drama as main actors called "shite" in Kanze School, and Mr. Kodo Yamaguchi and Mr. Chuzaburo Shigeyama, both of whom are Kyogen drama performers in Okura School, were invited to the workshop as instructors.

First, the instructors played one of the representative Noh dramas called, "Shakkyo." After the performance, the instructors introduced themselves, and started to speak about the history and performances of Nohgaku, and touched on major differences between serious Noh and comic Kyogen plays.

Next, they showed the audience the traditional big and small drums played for Nohgaku, and explained the basic differences between traditional Japanese music and western music. They also illustrated how the images of women and animals can be expressed by wearing masks during Nohgaku performances. Everyone looked very impressed by the profundity of Nohgaku and intently listened to the explanations by the instructors.

In the latter half of the workshop, the instructors encouraged the participants to practice Nohgaku by themselves. First, they tried the unique manner of walking in Noh called, "suriashi," and then imitated one of the basic Noh postures, "kamae." Lastly, they tried "sashikomi hiraki" by which performers' subtle changes of minds can be demonstrated. They wrapped up practices by chanting "Takasago" together, and having a big laugh in the "big laughter" practice in Kyogen. At the urging of the instructors who said, "Laugh at the top of your lungs!" the huge laughter of everyone ended up with reverberating throughout the hall.

The participants also observed Kyogen play titled, "Neongyoku." Although they were not always able to comprehend the Japanese, they smiled and laughed a lot being enchanted by the instructors' excellent performance. At the end of the workshop, the instructors helped a summer school student put on two types of traditional Noh kimono. One was a formal gorgeous kimono, the other represented a menacing demon. The student appeared on stage wearing the kimonos and a special wig.

This Nohgaku Workshop offers invaluable opportunity for people to watch traditional Japanese culture under the instructions of professional performers.

On the day of the workshop, Gifu Shimbun Newspaper reporters came to Gifu University and interviewed some of the students attending the workshop.

The GHOGL and the Center for Japanese Language and Culture will continue to hold a number of Japanese culture and tradition study programs and will disseminate their attractions on and off campus.

Instructors explaining a mask
Practice of "sashikomi hiraki"
Dressing up in kimono
Group photo


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