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Introducing the world of Noh

Noh is a theatrical art form that has been handed down through generations and been labeled one of the worlds oldest performing arts. It has also been designated an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO. Noh is a total art form comprised of drama, music and dance elements. While often compared to western opera, the differences can be quite startling. Due to the use of masks in noh masks, one can call noh a “mask drama.”

What is noh For Noh Beginners Origins and History Composition of Noh
shite-kata Other Roles Stage
Noh Masks Props Vocal
Music Noh Dance Movement Patterns
Costumes What is Kyogen
Izutsu, Sakurama Kinki © TOSHIRO MORITA
  • What is “Noh”?
    To begin with, what kind of thing is noh?
  • For Noh Beginners
    What kind of things should first time viewers look for?
  • Origins and History
    When did noh first begin? Is noh the same as “Saru-gaku?”
  • Composition of Noh 
    What are the roles of the shite and the waki?
  • Shite-kata 
    The shite is the main performer in a noh, shite performers also sing in the chorus.
  • Other Roles 
    The shite, performs together with other major characters on the stage.
  • Stage 
    Noh was originally performed in open fields, the noh stage seen today was constructed later.
  • Noh Masks 
    What is the meaning of the mask that noh performers wear?
  • Props 
    What are the kind of props used on the noh stage?
  • Vocal 
    The melody of noh is quite unique.
  • Music
    Noh music is made up of a delicate blend of melodies and sensitive, penetrating rhythms.
  • Noh Dance 
    Generally dance serves as the foundation through which the performers express the musical aspects of noh.
  • Movement Patterns 
    The refined movement is created through the beautiful execution of the set patterns.
  • Costumes 
    Another pleasure of noh are the exquisitely designed and embroidered costumes.
  • What is “Kyōgen”? 
    Unlike noh, kyōgen is an art form dedicated to laughter and comedy.

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