”Katayama Yusetsu, Noh Performer” Tradition to the Future

”Katayama Yusetsu, Noh Performer”
Tradition to the Future

Succeeding the Kanze-ryu

It is said that Sangaku first derived from China and developed into Sarugaku and then Noh, or Nogaku. However, no one knows when the name Noh started. On record the word Noh was used before Muromachi period to refer to plays. In Muromachi period, a star was born. And that was Kannami. He started to incorporate a new style of dancing to melodies and drew a line between existing plays and Kabu. We had the opportunity of meeting Noh performer Katayama Yusetsu and his eldest son, Katayama Kiyoshi, both Noh performers of the Kanze school style. Katayama Yusetsu is designated as Important Intangible Cultural Asset holder and is highly appraised for his subtle and profound beauty in his Noh art.

Donning the Mask and Costume

When observing the masks, we notice that the expressions on the masks each had different expressions and expressed different ages. Yusetsu Katayama says that the power of the performer conveys through the masks. We actually tried the masks on. Nakata even tried putting on the costume, with the aid of the two. He tries standing, but cannot see. He can barely see through the eye holes and it is also hard to breathe. As we had visited the rehearsal stage, Nakata was granted the rare opportunity of learning some movements on the stage, a invaluable experience indeed, standing on Noh stage.

Noh is a Participating Art

Nakata found the courage to ask this question. ”Um, I don’t know how to actually watch Noh, as I don’t understand what’s being said…” Being thrown this question, Kiyoshi Katayama gave him this advice. ”In Noh there are always supporting actors on the stage called ”waki”. Why not imagine yourself on the stage yourself? Noh is a participating type of art. The stories are simple. It may seem hard in the beginning, but first, try imagining yourself as one of the characters on stage. That will convey something, for sure.” Mr. Katayama runs the ”Katayama family Nohgaku, Kyo Dance Preservation Trust” and strives to preserve the traditional art of Noh and Kyo dance. Nohgaku is an art that has been succeeded since the Muromachi period. The Noh performers in the ”present” will be mediating Noh to the future.


Katayama Family Noh, Kyo Dance Preservation Trust
224 Nishinomachi Yamatoooji Shinmonzendori Higashiyama-ku Kyoto
URL http://www.arc.ritsumei.ac.jp/k-kanze/