What is “Nō play” ? – expressing the philosophical world -

noh play

is a performance that combines a song called utai, a dance performance, and ohayashi (music accompaniment), which developed from sarugaku, a form of theater performed by peasants and popular during the 11th – 14th centuries, and was established in the Muromachi Period(1333 – 1573) by Zeami. The actors include the main charavter shite, the supporting character waki, and they both wear lacquered facemasks together with magnificent nishiki-ori (brocaded) kimono. The facemasks are called  nōmen or omote and are put on when a role cannot be played by the male actor with an unpainted face (e.g. a ghost, an animal or a woman). In order to enjoy , one must understand the unique Japanese worldview called kakuriyo. The Japanese people believe that behind utsushiyo (the actual world), there is another world (kakuriyo, yūkai) existing adjacent to it, and that it is extremely ordinary and realistic for the deceased to appear in this world by crossing over the border. In that sense,  is a theatrical performance of a narrative given to the people of this world by the deceased or spirits that appear from the other world. The quiet movement that does not involve any speech is thought to be expressing the philosophical world called yūgen (subtle and profound beauty), and it has gained worldwide acclaim.

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