A place to casually experience the richness and depth of Japan’s traditional culture - not merely a Noh Theater Experience the Richness and Depth of Noh Theater and Japan’s Traditional Culture
Thought on move to GINZA SIX
The Kanze Noh Theater which there was in quiet residential area called Shoto of Shibuya for 43 years removes and builds limelight that is unbroken, and protects, and told commercial facilities where tradition and innovativeness introduced the latest technology called GINZA SIX of town Ginza living together into and holds new noh theater.
Originally mansion of Kanze school tayu (head family) was in Ginza until head master of a school four generations ago returned the receipt ground with revolution. On the other hand, in aging society where the elderly attracted attention even if we walked town, there was yearning to want young various places to touch the richness and depth of Japanese traditional culture not only ability more carelessly and decided move.
We feel a sense of crisis in "Japanese spirit independent of Chinese classics" being lost in the particularly present times. Softness, gentleness, flexibility - - it are Japanese identity from ancient times and are thing which made mental root and trunk.
For example, there is ability called "bowl tree" (bee come). Tokiyori Hojou goes around the countries in the disguise of itinerant priest. When we came to Sano of Tochigi on winter one day, we ask the Genzaemon Sano land of immortal life for crash pad. Life of family comes down and we become impoverished and wear rag. If ask; saying "is embezzled by the whole families, and land is taken, and live on terrible health." We cut plum, pine, cherry tree of potted plant which we valued that the land of immortal life advances meal of German millet in spite of poor life and has itinerant priest take the warmth and do for open fire. Therefore the word "treating tonight" comes out, but does not sing at all loudly. It is "Japanese spirit independent of Chinese classics" and is not to become public even if we make the word "hospitality" saying "this is hospitality of Japan", and to eat.
But it is Kiyokazu Kanze breathing as modern people to dance this ability. Even if it is good to think when Kanami and Zeami lived, in thing same as old days, it cannot be possible for human being in the just present times. In correspondence with change of the times, we think that it is accomplishments to include insight depending on subtleties.
What the Relocation to GINZA SIX Means for the Kanze School
The Kanze Nohgakudo, or the Kanze Noh Theater, which has been nestled in the quiet residential neighborhood of Shoto in Shibuya for 43 years, is currently in the process of relocating its storied and hallowed cypress stage to GINZA SIX, a shopping mall with cutting-edge facilities that will open in the heart of Ginza in Spring 2017.
Ginza, a commercial district where tradition and innovation coexist, is technically not a new home for the Kanze School. Historically, the Kanze School was based in Ginza until four generations ago, when the 22nd Grand Master Sanjuro Kiyotaka returned the land to the Japanese government in accordance with the Meiji Restoration . So in that sense it is a homecoming. The other reason for the relocation is that in an aging society where we see so many senior citizens out and about, I wished to provide a more accessible setting for young people to be exposed not only to Noh, but to the richness and depth of Japan's traditional culture.
In this day and age especially, I can't help but feel that we are losing touch with yamato-gokoro, that is, the spirit of softness, kind-heartedness, and gracefulness that have defined the Japanese identity and formed the bedrock of our psyche since time immemorial.
Consider the Noh play "Hachinoki" ["The Potted Trees"]. Hojo Tokiyori, a regent of the Kamakura shogunate, is traveling incognito throughout Japan, posing as a priest on pilgrimage. One winter's day, as he is passing through the city of Sano in Tochigi Prefecture, a snowstorm causes him to seek shelter from the shabbily-dressed Sano no Genzaemon Tsuneyo, a former lord whose family has been reduced to poverty. Prodded by the priest as to his clan affiliation, Tsuneyo reveals that "Kinsmen usurped my lands, and now I live in misery." Despite his wretched state, Tsuneyo offers the priest some steamed rice with millet, and as the night wears on and grows colder, he cuts down his prized potted plum, pine, and cherry trees and uses the branches to start a fire, saying, "...for this night's entertainment." But he recites this line quietly, almost to himself. That is yamato-gokoro. When the Japanese talk about omotenashi, they mean hospitality that does not draw attention to itself, that does not ask to be recognized.
Of course, when I perform this Noh play I do it as Kiyokazu Kanze, who lives and breathes in contemporary times. Contemplating the times when the founders of Noh-playwrights Kannami [1333-1384] and his son Zeami [1363-c. 1440] -walked the Earth is constructive to an extent, but it is unreasonable to expect someone in the present to recreate a performance in its original form. I believe that the performing arts must possess the adaptability to keep up with the changing times and the insight to understand the subtleties that unfold therein.
As the highest noh theater permitting multiple languages
We had Lincoln Center festival that superior theatrical art of the world gathered in this July invite and staged performance in great popularity in Rose theater of New York for 6 for five days. Overseas performance may receive evaluation that is higher in a lot of visitors who got fat of appreciation eyes than Japan. There is something like feeling of air of place even if we hang mask, and state that visitor watches by nearly falling forward reaches. They enjoy the style beauty in Noh. This will be because it is the few world for oneself. People of New York received Noh wonderfully.
Eight choruses are orderly and, in occasion when we played "(the blue top) before in Aoi" in Lithuania of three Baltic countries, take Japanese fan and sing in the chanting of a Noh text and after all it is orderly and puts Japanese fan after having been over. To see the style beauty, culture minister who was opera singer said, "we remembered mass of church of hometown". Across the language barrier, we were glad that we caught Noh freely.
As for the ability performance in foreign countries, case to add subtitles to is mainstream like opera. We become earphone guide at first in GINZA SIX, but are going to prepare infrastructure equipment for multilingual correspondence. We want to introduce barrier-free that is important theme of newer noh theater positively. We utilize multilingual system for person having seeing and hearing disorder and keep the making of environment where person with a disability can enjoy ability commonly in mind. In addition, we think when we can widen sight in what can remove outside corner sightline pillar, and lighting setup fixes thing which there is not in conventional noh theater to be able to utilize for performance of genre except ability.
New noh theater wants to be place that you can look at without reason impartially of Japan, overseas one. We want at first you to go to visit without thinking "can you not see ability when you do not make a study beforehand?".
The chanting of a Noh text (sing) of ability is old word. There is passage more there, and vowel sound is prolonged. Meaning of words itself is deformed, too, and even Japanese is difficult to hear. Therefore we think that we have you take feeling characteristics wealthily freely without being going to understand by reason "why is pillar of the stage four?" (laugh).
A State-of-the-Art Nohgakudo With Multilingual Support
This past July, our troupe was invited for the first time to the Lincoln Center Festival, an annual event held in New York hosting some of the best performing arts from around the world. There we conducted six performances over five days at the Rose Theater to much fanfare and acclaim. Performances abroad such as these are attended by discerning, theater-savvy audiences, and we occasionally receive greater acclaim than we do in our native Japan. Even from behind a mask I can feel the energy of the room, and I can imagine the audience leaning forward in their seats. They appreciate the beauty of form on display in Noh theater-perhaps because they are witnessing a world that is completely unfamiliar to them. Truly, the people of New York embraced our art.
Some time ago, we performed "Aoi no Ue" ["The Lady Aoi"] in Lithuania. There is a part where the ji-utai [the eight-member chorus, who sit in two rows stage left] pick up their sensu [Japanese folding fans] in unison, chant the chorus, and then when they are through, set their sensu back down in unison. The Minister of Culture, who also happened to be an opera singer, later said that the ritual had reminded him of attending Mass back in his hometown. I truly appreciated that he had ventured beyond the language barrier and interpreted what he had seen on his own terms.
When performing Noh overseas, we normally feature supertitles to convey to foreign audiences what is happening on stage. At GINZA SIX, we will initially feature English in-ear guidance, with full multilingual support forthcoming. Furthermore, the issue of accessibility, or what we refer to in Japan as barrier-free, is a central focus of the new theater. We will make every effort to provide an environment for guests with disabilities to enjoy Noh-for example, by using our multilingual support system to assist those with visual or hearing impairment. The metsuke-bashira [a pillar placed stage right that serves as a positioning guidepost for dancers] on our stage can be removed to allow for a more unobstructed view, and our stage lighting system is much more adaptable than what you usually find at a Noh theater. We envision our stage being used for performances other than Noh.
The new Nohgakudo will be a place where both Japanese and foreign theatergoers alike can imbibe a visceral experience of our art, free of assumptions and expectations of what it is or should be. No need to do research or study up on the subject matter beforehand-come in fresh, and ask questions later.
Noh recitations are in a very old form of Japanese, and syllables are sung to a fushi [melody, or aria] with long vowel sounds. The meaning of the words are often not meant to be taken literally, rendering the poetry all but indecipherable to even native Japanese. All the more reason why we advise against trying to understand our plays and performances on a purely intellectual level. Why are there four pillars on stage? You're missing the point! (Laughs.) Come in with an open mind and heart, and let your emotions be moved.
Scenery that new noh theater idealizes
I loved Wagner and asked Bayreuth music festival with my wife the year before last. It was famous festival to assume only Wagner program, but was overwhelmed in every splendor of theater in public holidays and festival days of wooden construction that Wagner designed, and was completed in 1876.
In the top of quiet hill of Bayreuth, we see approach finished gently towards there, and feeling becomes exalted. There is not announcement, and bell sounds dingaling modestly even if it becomes five minutes before the start. Then person who talked goes into theater somehow. Person in charge of each door only stands there and does not check ticket aloud if there is not instruction. Though person in charge of CLOAK is only one, we cannot stand in line.
In other words, relations of visitor and sponsor are managed with matured manner to be able to be called inspiration and expiration. We thought that it was smartness that only Europe had.
It is difficult for new noh theater to provide such service immediately, but can convey that heart is reborn by touching live experience. We hear that space of refined meal is born in GINZA SIX. Taste of wine and meal should change after splendid experience, too.
We think new noh theater to be able to aim at place with such a scenery even a little.
The Vision for the New Nohgakudo
As a devotee of Wagner's music, I could not pass up an opportunity to attend the Bayreuth Festival in Germany with my wife two years ago. The famous music festival— comprised exclusively of performances of operas by Richard Wagner-is held annually at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, a wooden theater designed by the 19th-century composer himself and completed in 1876. The grandeur of it all was stunning.
The theater sits atop a peaceful hill in Bayreuth, and the upward slope of the approach evokes a sense of arriving at a higher plane. Inside, there are no announcements made over the PA system-only the modest ringing of a bell to let people out in the lobby know that the performance will begin in five minutes. And with that, the conversations and chit-chat wind down and the last guests saunter into the auditorium. During all of this, the ushers at each door barely move-they're not shouting out instructions, not even checking tickets. The cloakroom is manned by a single attendant, but there's never a line.
Basically, there's an unspoken order to everything, a dignity shared by both the theatergoers and the organizers of the event that puts them in perfect sync. We Japanese have a saying for this: "a-un no kokyuu", but this, I thought, was the kind of savoir-vivre you could only see in a place as cultured and theater-savvy as Europe.
It might be some time before our new theater is able to provide a kind of service on that level, but I have no doubt that the raw, immediate nature of our art can inspire, rejuvenate, and even trigger a spiritual experience. And I hear that GINZA SIX will also offer a number of fine dining options in refined settings. After a Noh performance, you can be sure that food and wine will taste all the richer for it.
That is my vision for the new Nohgakudo. And this is only the beginning.
It was born in Tokyo for 1,959 years. Father is the 25th head family late Court Security Office first of the year. Person of completion, Kanami of ability of the Muromachi era, the direct line of descendant of Zeami. We pull Noh world as 26th Kanze school head family. In the country, a lot of overseas performances wrestle in return music such as "Hakozaki" "pearl oyster pines", new item ability including "Rikyu" "change of heart of St. Paul" from the start, too. The important intangible cultural asset general designated holder. The recommendation of art Minister of Education rookie of the year title, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize, traditional culture Paula Prize award, the French art Order of Culture (Chevalier), receiving a prize (chapter) majority including the Purple Ribbon Medal.
Born in Tokyo in 1959, Kiyokazu Kanze is the 26th Grand Master of the Kanze School, which claims the closest line of lineage back to Zeami and Kannami, who founded Noh in the Muromachi Period [1336-1573]. He is the eldest son of 25th Grand Master Sakon (Motomasa) Kanze. He has performed across Japan and in many other countries in revived plays such as "Hakozaki" and "Akoyanomatsu", and the new Noh plays "Rikyu" and "The Conversion of St. Paul". He has been designated as part of an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan, and is the recipient of numerous other awards and honors, including the Minister of Education' s Art Encouragement Prize and previously its Prize for New Artists, the Pola Award for Traditional Culture, Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the French government, and the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon from the Japanese government.
(September, 2016 interview)
Interview and Text by Yuka Okada / Photographs by Satoko Imazu