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Question133 What is the Sagi School of kyōgen?

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Kyōgen has developed alongside Noh since the Muromachi Period. Two major schools remain active today, called Okura and Izumi. Another, the Sagi School, disappeared from the mainstream in the Meiji and Taishō periods.

The Sagi School was founded by Sagi Niemon Sōgen, a kyōgen actor for the first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu. The school was attached to the Kanze School in the Edo Period and wielded power as the in- house kyōgen school of the shogunate. In the Meiji Period, however, the Sagi School was unable to establish a grand master system like those of other schools, and it was finally discontinued in the Taishō Period. Even so, the plays of the school have been passed down by amateur actors in several areas, including Yamaguchi, Sado Island in Niigata, and Saga.

Among these works, the plays in Yamaguchi were introduced by Kasuga Shōsaku, a kyōgen actor for the Mōri clan who learned them in Edo. The plays were handed down by a group called "Denshū-kai," and were taught to each other by townspeople, but on a much reduced scale after Shōsaku passed away. In 1954 (Shōwa 29), a preservation group was founded after research by the late Prof. Ishikawa Yaichi of Yamaguchi Women's College (present-day Yamaguchi Prefectural University). The Sagi School of kyōgen was subsequently named the prefecture’s first intangible cultural asset, and frequent workshops came to be held, for elementary and junior high school students and adults alike. Nowadays, regularly scheduled performances also take place.

(February. 13 2015)


illustration : Hiroko Sakaki
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