Noh is one of the oldest performing art which is still practiced in Japan. Because of esthetical and inspirational art values, it has been recognized as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO. Noh is a combine art form with drama, music and dance elements.
Noh is a popular entertainments since Heian period (794-1185). Based on place and time the form of presentation little varies with local ritual, offering dances particularly by the Zen practices and ink painting. It is called ‘Zeami’ (1363-1443), the great Japanese theatre actor and practitioner as re the founder of Noh.
As in the drama commonly use its unique masks, so it is known as ‘mask drama’ as well. There are 60 basic types of noh masks which have been having been recreated presently into 200 types. The purposes of the masks are performing the facts beyond the facial emotional expressions. Teru and Kumoru are the most common expression of Noh Mask. Teru (tilting upwards) used for smiling or laughing expression. Kumoru (tilting downwards) used to sadness or crying expression.
The Noh stage is very simple space in. There is no curtain between the playing area and the audience. Originally, Noh was played in open fields. In modern Noh stage, there fashioned indoors and designed roof, bridge with a handrail and a pine tree painted on the back wall.
Dōjō-ji is one of the representative works of Noh drama.
Noh music is composed with music and vocal. During the performance, the main performers vocal become major where as seated group play music and or chorus with unique sound and or words. In music Japanese fue (flute), kotsuzumi (shoulder drum), ōtsuzumi (hip drum) and taiko (stick drum) widely used in this performance.
Noh dance is now as ‘Mai’. The dance of noh is not simply the expression of the body but is moving around the stage to explain the facts.
The costumes used in noh are called noh shōzoku which are exquisitely embroidered like traditional woman’s kimono. In early stages costumes were modest. Now it becomes favorable and aristocracy with finely crafted kimono.