Nohgaku is rooted in the natural environment of Japan featuring the four seasons that produce beautiful sceneries. With the changes in the times forming its basis, Nohgaku inherits cultures from ancient periods while also incorporating new, modern elements.
The impression of seasons created on stage
Nohgaku is rooted in the natural environment of Japan featuring the four seasons that produce beautiful sceneries. For example, Noh has many plays evoking scenic splendors associated with the changes in the season, whereas Kyogen has many plays on seasonal events and customs such as those related to farming and festivals.
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Spring: Noh “Takasago”, “Tadanori”, “Hagoromo”, “Sumidagawa”
Autumn: Noh “Izutsu”; Kyogen “Kaki Yamabushi”
The world of the classics depicted in Nohgaku
In Noh, many of its themes are taken from art and literature that existed before the Muromachi period. Its sources include: “The Tales of Ise” and “The Tale of Genji” depicting the aristocracy and others; “Tales of Times Now Past,” which is a collection of narratives; and “The Tale of the Heike” and “Annals of Yoshitsune” depicting warriors. Many plays were made integrating various folklore. The world created by these tales became a familiar subject matter not only in art, literature, and picture scrolls, but also in singing and dancing drama.
On the other hand, Kyogen, which became an established form of comedy theatre, often features commoners who like renga, or a genre of poetry that became popular during the Muromachi period in which poetry is written by more than one person. Kyogen had significant impacts on arts and literature, including haikai renga, a form of renga that was later established based on satire and puns, as well as other genres that were established even later, such as haiku poem, senryu poem, and kokkeibon humorous book.
The production of new works
The Nohgaku repertoire, most of which was created during the Muromachi period, has continued to add new works since then. Especially from the 20th century, numerous works were made by a number of writers, some of which have been performed repeatedly. They deal with diverse content that encompasses a range of fields, including those that draw upon history and folklore, those that deal with West European culture and performing arts, and those that address the issues of contemporary society as their themes. In addition, experimental productions employing the Nohgaku style are also staged.
- Zenmaro Toki, “Yumedono (Dream Pavilion)”
- “Takahime (The Hawk Princess)”