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LastUpDate: January 7, 2022
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Hakata Culture vol.179


Noh Theater: The Embodiment of the Japanese Aesthetic

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The traditional Japanese performing arts of Noh and Kyogen are registered as intangible cultural heritage elements by UNESCO. Noh theatre has a long history, and it is believed to have originated from folk arts introduced from the continent around the 8th century. In the latter half of the 14th century, Kan'ami and Zeami, a father-and-son duo who compiled Noh plays, emerged and established the form of Noh as we know it today. Since that time, Noh has been handed down for more than 600 years, and many of the turns of phrase and melodies from that time remain in the current performances.


Noh plays are performed on a Noh stage or in a Noh theater, but these are extremely simplified spaces with no curtains or rugs between the audience and the stage. The performance space consists of a hashi-gakari, the passageway the performers use to enter and leave the stage, and the main stage, which has a pine tree in the background. Originally, Noh stages were built outdoors, and even though they have since been moved indoors, they still have a roof, railings, pine trees and shirasu, a pebble-filled space that separates the stage from the audience.


There are several Noh stages in Fukuoka, but the most well-known one is the Ohori Park Noh Theater, which opened on the edge of Ohori Park in 1986. The building was designed by Hiroshi Oe, an architect who also worked on the National Noh Theatre, and it hosts a variety of performances in addition to Noh and Kyogen. In 2021, the theater was closed for renovations, but in 2022 it will celebrate its 35th anniversary, and many Noh performances will be held starting from the beginning of the year.


Because of Noh’s close connection to rituals, Noh stages are often set up in shrines. The Noh Theater at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Hakata Ward is a historic building that was built in 1938 with donations, and it is still in use today. It has been designated as a tangible cultural property of Fukuoka City. There are also several Noh stages that have been erected by private-sector Noh performers for performances and rehearsals, including the Morimoto Nohbutai and the Shirogane Nohgakudo (both in Chuo-ku).



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日本の美意識が詰まった能舞台

日本の伝統芸能であり、ユネスコ無形文化遺産に登録されている能・狂言。能楽の歴史は古く、その源流は8世紀頃に大陸から伝わった民間芸能にあるとされます。14世紀後半に能楽の集大成を行った観阿弥・世阿弥親子が出現して、現在のような能楽の形が確立されたとされます。その時代から600年以上受け継がれてきて、現在の演目にも当時の言葉や節回しの多くを残しています。


能楽が上演される場所を能舞台、あるいは能楽堂と呼びますが、客席との間には幕や緞帳もなく、極端に簡略化された空間です。橋掛かりという演者が出入りする通路と本舞台で構成され、本舞台の背景には松が描かれています。もともと能舞台は屋外に作られたもので、そのため屋内に能舞台が移っても舞台に屋根がついていたり、渡り廊下の欄干や松の木、白洲などが再現されています。


福岡にもいくつか能舞台がありますが、代表的なものが大濠公園能楽堂です。水と緑豊かな大濠公園の一角にあり、1986年に開館しました。設計は国立能楽堂も手がけた建築家・大江宏によるもので、能・狂言の上演以外にもさまざまな公演が行われています。2021年は改修工事のために閉館していましたが、2022年には開館35周年を迎え、年明けから多くの能楽公演が行われます。


能楽は儀礼にもつながりが深いため、神社などに能舞台が設置されていることも多くあります。博多区の住吉神社にある能楽殿は、1938年に有志の寄付によって建てられた歴史ある建物で、現在も現役の舞台として利用され、市の有形文化財にも指定されています。また民間の能楽師が公演や稽古のために作った能舞台もあり、森本能舞台や白金能楽堂(いずれも中央区)などがあります。