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■The history of Noh
|The History of Noh|
Noh-Kyougen is one of the most exciting art in Japanese traditional arts.
The origin of Noh can be found in the "Sarugaku" which born in the Heian-Period [N.B.1]. Sarugaku is, as to say, a large-scale street performance. It includes performing the play, imitating, dancing, conjuring, singing, et cetera.
The Kamakura-period (1185-1333) , the one of Sarugaku developed to Dengaku, that is a prayer of a rich harvest. By the middle of Kamakura-period, Sarugaku formed theatrical troupes, it called "Za"（座）. Among the most important of these were the Yuzaki（結崎）, Tobi（外山）, Enman-i（円満井）, and Sakado（坂戸） troupes which performed Yamato-style Sarugaku in the Yamato region. These four troupes were called "Yamato-Sarugaku Siza"(大和猿楽四座). After the age, Kan-ami appears (He was born in 1333). Kan-ami （観阿弥）, both playwright and an actor, had remarkable activity in Dengaku player. He was the first reader of the Yuzaki troupe（結崎座）. After obtaining the patronage of Asikaga Yoshimitu （足利義満）, third shogun of the Muromati shogunate (1334-1467), Kan-ami came to power far exceeding that of the other Noh troupes.
The age of Zeami（世阿弥 1363-1443?）, the son of Kan-ami, is the golden age of Noh. He is, the same as his Father, playwright and an actor. After death of Kan-ami, Zeami took over the direction of the Kanze troupes (later Kan-ami's Yuzaki troupes changed the name "Kanze") and refined its techniques. Strikingly good-looking and refined act, he was favored by Asikaga Yosimitsu. Zeami have preeminent ability of Noh playwright, producing masterpiece after master piece. Speaking about tarent as a writer, it seems like Zeami is Shakespear of Noh. For example, Kiyotune（清経）, Yorimasa（頼政）, Sanemori（実盛）, Idutsu（井筒）, Koi-no-omoni（恋重荷）, Taema（当麻）, Kinuta（砧）, these scripts are excellent and still popular in 21st century, was all written by Zeami. A large number of his scripts are based on works of classical litereture, such as Heike Monogatari (平家物語 ; The Tale of the Heike) and Ise Monogatari (伊勢物語 ; Tales of Ise) [N.B.2].
The Yamato-Sarugaku Siza (the foru Yamato sarugaku troupes) evolved into four schools of Noh. The Yuzaki troupe became the Kanze school; the Tobi troupe, the Houshou（宝生） school; the Sakado troupe, the Kongou（金剛） school, the Enman-i troupes, the Konparu（金春） school.
In Edo shogunate period, Noh established, and lost popularity. The audience was limited to certain groups, such as samurai clans, and wealthy merchants. Some Daimyo patronized the Noh school and actor, but townspeople had few occasion to contact Noh act.
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Japanese ancient period; at the time, Nara is the center of a country.
In the age, it seems that establishment, as appreciating Noh, have background knowledge of these classical litereture. It is one of the reason that Japanese at present regard Noh as so difficult.
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