History Nohgaku has been passed down over many years and was referred to as Sarugaku until the Edo period (17th to 19th centuries). Its beginnings trace back to a performing art that came from overseas to Japan, well over a thousand years ago. Noh and Kyogen were perfected as theatrical arts through their mutual interactions and overcoming numerous threats to their survival.


Roots (Origin)

Noh and Kyogen originated from a performing art brought to Japan from China during the Nara period (8th century).

Introduction of Sangaku
Linkage with Temples and Shrines
Interaction with Dengaku

Ascent to Greatness

Kan’ami and Zeami developed Sarugaku into a highly artistic performing art.

Four Sarugaku Troupes and Kan’ami
Zeami and Muromachi Shogunate
Succession and Spread of Noh

A Thriving and
Classical Theatre Form

Under the patronage of the shogunate, Noh and Kyogen became performing arts for the samurai class.

Momoyama Culture and Hideyoshi
Ceremonial Art for the Tokugawa Shogunate 
Rise of Chant Books and Shimai Dance

Towards a New Era

Nohgaku elevated to a new level while inheriting tradition

Renamed Sarugaku to Nohgaku
New Efforts
Opening of National Noh Theatre