Japan's traditional performing
arts of Noh and Kyogen developed together in the
14th century during the Muromachi period (1333|1573).
Today, they are thought of together as the art
of Nogaku, or as Noh & Kyogen.
Noh is a kind of symbolic drama
colored with the graceful aesthetic effect of
quiet elegance that is expressed through the word
yugen ("elegant, refined, and elusive beauty").
Its subjects are taken from history or classical
literature, and it is structured around song and
dance. Its most obvious characteristic is that
the main actor performs while wearing a mask of
exceptional beauty. Its themes are more concerned
with human destiny that with events, and it developed
into a highly stylized and refined performing
art that takes place upon a very simple stage.
The play known as The Well-Curb is often used
as typical of the vision-like Noh plays of its
dramatic world. When audiences experience Noh,
they are touched with a feeling different from
that evoked by other theatrical forms.
Kyogen is a kind of spoken drama
that is based upon laughter and comedy. In contrast
to Noh, it uses the everyday life of the common
people in feudal society or folk tales as its
subject, and realistically depicts a kind of "Everyman"
figure. This dynamic art\whose typical main character
is a servant named Taro Kaja\evokes a gentle and
Noh and Kyogen have, from the
very beginning, been performed upon the same stage.
Both Noh, through its pursuit of a symbolic ideal
beauty, and Kyogen, through its realistic expression
of humor, portray the true essence of human nature,
and have been passed down to us today in these
mutually complementary roles.
In modern times, Noh and Kyogen
have both been highly acclaimed around the world
for their great artistic value, and in 2001, UNESCO
added the dual art of Nogaku to its Intangible
Cultural Heritage list as a Masterpiece of Oral
and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.