Special Lecture and Workshop NOH: “The Mundane and the Mysterious on Stage” -Exploring the meaning of the Noh stage-

Honoring the Ii family’s admiration for Noh theater, scholar of Japanese literature, Mr. Nozomu Hayashi, will give a lecture, and Mr. Shintaro Ban from the Kanze School will give a Noh performance.

2:00 P.M. Sunday, September 27th
Hikone Castle Museum Noh Stage
500 yen

Ticket Inquiry & Reservations 

  • Phone/Fax reservations
    “Hikone Bunka Plaza Ticket Center”
    Phone: 0749-27-5200 Fax:0749-26-8602

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    the Hikone Bunka Plaza website.

*Reservations start from July 31 (Fri.).



Nozomu Hayashi:

Professor in the Department of Traditional Japanese Music, Tokyo University of the Arts. Graduated from the Doctoral course, Faculty of Japanese Literature, Keio University. Learned Noh theatre at the Kanze School. Published author of books and essays on Japanese literature and Noh theater.


Shintaro Ban:

Noh Performer: Shite (leading character), Kanze School. Graduated from the Department of Traditional Japanese Music, specializing in Noh, Tokyo University of the Arts.


Outline of the Lecture by Nozomu Hayashi
“Wonder and Enchantment on Stage”

  1. The Ii family, the daimyo (hereditary feudal lords) of Hikone, were enthusiastic about Noh theatre, especially starting with Nao-oki, the 4th daimyo. Ii family patronized the Kita school of Noh and the Shigeyama kyogen family.

    Since then, successive daimyos inherited Noh culture. Naonobu, the 7th daimyo, ordered Noh plays to be performed repeatedly and Naohide, the 10th daimyo, performed Noh himself. The 11th daimyo, Naonaka, had a stage built in 1800, which remains today in the Castle Museum. Another Noh stage was built in the Ii family residence, the Keyaki-goten (Zelkova Palace, now under reconstruction next to the Genkyuen Garden). Naonaka’s successor, Naosuke, the 13th daimyo, was a Noh performer himself, a master of the kozutsumi (hand drum), and the playwright of a kyogen (Noh farce), “Adachi-Onna”. Naosuke rewrote a Kita School kyogen story, “Tanuki no harazutsumi,” commonly known as “The Hikone Tanuki (Raccoon Dog),” He is also said to have arranged “Chikubu-shima”. The Kita School reversed the main character, Shite (celestial nymph) and the companion character , Tsure (dragon god) in an opposite way from the usual performance, respecting the preference of the Ii family.

  2. The Noh stage is unlike a western stage; after observing the stage and analyzing its structure, you will see it as a “sacred” or “spiritual” or “other-worldly” space.

  3. Almost all Edo era castles had an inside Noh stage. Since its origin in the Muromachi era (14th-16th C.), Noh had typically been performed outdoors, such as in temple precincts or on riversides, but under the Edo shogunate it was refined as an official ritual ceremony.

  4. The Noh performance on the stage was separated from viewers by an area of white gravel (shirasu). Lords and high-ranking guests often furthermore watched from behind bamboo blinds (misu-uchi). If they were invited, townspeople would squat on the gravel.

  5. Noh performances in the past had five components, with themes of shin-nan-nyo-kyo-ki, that is, God, Man, Woman, Trance, and “Oni” (Ogre or Demon). A performance would start with a chant-song of blessing and purification.

  6. In an hour and a half, Noh describes humanity by showing all the emotions human beings have, like joy, anger, sadness and happiness. This universality attracts people from generation to generation, including foreigners. The British composer, Benjamin Britten, for example, composed the church-opera “Curlew River” inspired by the Noh play, “Sumida River.”

Today, in Mr. Ban’s performance, we hope you will enjoy and appreciate seeing the postures and movements of Noh, the Noh masks, and various forms and representations of Noh. Please also take a look at the Noh masks (noumen), swords (katana), pole swords (naginata) and other stage props (ko-dougu) on display in the Hikone Castle Museum.