Noh TriviaQuestion and Answer

Question66  Who is watched at the beginning of the performance?


If you look at the entrance curtain from the auditorium, you will see a lattice window at the left-hand side of the curtain. This is a window through which performers can look out over the stage and the auditorium from the dressing room. The window is sometimes called monomi-mado (lookout window), bugyō-mado (magistrate window), or arashi-mado (storm window).

Because there is a drawn rattan blind, the audience cannot see through the window. Noh actors often watch the auditorium through the window before the performance to see the type of audience and to feel the overall atmosphere. They try to listen to the ripples of talk to feel the tension of the audience waiting for the start. Therefore, one can say that it is the spectators who are being watched at the beginning of the performance. We do not know clearly why the window is called arashi-mado, but some Noh actors say that they feel the noise of the audience as if it were a storm.

The window is sometimes used for actors to watch the stage, through which they admire the art of masters, or teachers check their pupils' performances. The window may seem inconvenient for viewing, but it is a gathering place for the thoughts of Noh actors.

(Aug 10, 2009)

illustration : Hiroko Sakaki

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