Stage and PerformancePerformance Techniques

Noh techniques

Characteristics of Noh Acting

Noh seeks to illustrate a vast sense of time and space, using only a small space. With intense concentration and a lot of control, it has pursued simple and symbolic movements and sounds that strip away extraneous elements. This orientation has led to the development of unique, polished forms of a variety of motions and music.

Noh Motions: Movement Patterns and Dance

In Noh, which uses slight movements to represent profoundly deep meaning, even the ways in which kamae (basic standing position) and hakobi (manner of walking) are performed differ by role, such as female, male, and deity. Furthermore, there are, for example, various patterns of movements for expressing emotion, and actors combine them to perform even more wide-ranging movements.

Another form of movement is dance, which is dancing to utai (chanting), hayashi (instrumental music), or other kinds of music. There are several types of dance, and it is made up of performing a number of dance patterns in succession.


Crying is shown by having the palm of the hand inside and over the forehead. Doing this with both hands indicates a more intense form of crying.


Noh Music: Utai and Hayashi

For utai in Noh, some intonations are also added to the spoken lines of characters. It is divided into: sections that describe the situation without setting it to a rhythm, even if there is a melody; and sections that are set to a rhythm and sung. It can be a solo sung by the shite (main actor), or a single melody sung in unison by several people known as jiutai chorus.

The hayashi ensemble does not have a conductor. In addition to the performance of instruments, the sound of performers calling out to each other is another kind of music that serves as cues for each other and enhances the mood of the song. Even the pauses and the breathing you can hear when there is no sound may be called a form of silent and tense performance.