April 16, 2008
by Ayaka Okochi
Takigi Noh at Heian Shrine
Most people in Kyoto know that Takigi Noh is the poetic highlight of the early summer. It is an event in which the tradition and rich history of Japan are recomfirmed. Takigi Noh is a Noh play that is performed on an open-air stage and illuminated by torchlight. The first place to hold Takigi Noh was Koufukuji Temple in Nara.
In Kyoto, the 59th performance of Takigi Noh at Heian Shrine took place this year (2008). For the Heian Shrine performances, a bonfire is lit at twilight, and the vermillion-colored hall of this Shinto shrine is magnificently illuminated. A Noh and kyogen (short comic plays) are performed on a specially set up outdoor Noh stage that uses the shrine as a backdrop.
Talented actors wear graceful and gorgeous costumes and perform dances. The theme of this past year’s Takigi Noh was the “Tale of Genji,” which is the famous novel set in Kyoto and was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu. This year is its 1000th anniversary.
In Kyoto, we can see Takigi Noh at Heian Shrine on June 1st and 2nd. It costs 3300 yen.
Some Takigi Noh Plays Performed in 2008
The plays “Momiji-no-Ga” and “Oban to Hikaru-Kimi” were especially performed in 2008.
Usually actors from only one school of Noh perform in one play, but in “Momiji-no-Ga,” actors from two different Noh schools collaborated.
Hikaru Genji, the Shining Prince from the Tale of Genji, is attracted strongly to Lady Fujitsubo, whose features greatly resemble those of his mother. In due course, Hikaru comes also to be attracted to Lady Murasaki-no-Ue. Changing his mind becomes the axis of the plot of the Tale of Genji. This dilemma is described beautifully in “Momiji-no-Ga.” The audience expects a romantic show, which is difficult to perform in classical Noh. However they succeed in expressing romance by making the most of these magnificent scenes from the Tale of Genji.
Oban to Hikaru-Kimi
This piece is a relatively new kyogen work that pokes fun at the Tale of Genji. It first premiered on October 6th, 2002. The character Hotaru Genji is very popular, so whenever he makes a pass at a woman she falls in love with him. Therefore, he becomes worried when there is no response to his recent flirtations. So he instructs his servant, Are Hikaru, to find him a woman who is stimulating,perhaps an older woman.On the other hand, Tofu-no-Chujo, another man who is popular like Hotaru Genji, also tells his servant the same thing. Both servants are at a loss at what to do and consult each other. They decide to visit Adashino, who is a servant of Oban. Oban is almost 60 years old, but she looks younger than her age, and Adashino is also having troubles with Oban’s love affairs. These three servants conspire and teach their masters a lesson in moderating their love.