First Noh & Kyogen Program Witnessed by Americans

December 10, 2004
past event image
Performance past event

Thursday, December 9 & Friday, December 10
7:30 pm

Designated as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, noh and kyogen are world-renowned forms of traditional Japanese theater with a more than 600-year performance history. Yet noh and kyogen were first introduced to the Western world at the end of the 19th century. When was the pivotal performance that opened the world of noh to Americans? Which pieces were performed? Who was among the audience? Now, as the culminating celebration of the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Treaty, members of Nohgaku Kyokai return to Japan Society after their sold-out performances in March 2004 to restage the noh/kyogen program witnessed by the first American audience. First presented in Japan in 1879, this event–whose audience included President Ulysses Grant–was documented in the diary of Noh Master Umewaka Minoru (1828-1909). Umewaka’s great grandson, Master Umewaka Rokuro, is featured in this program.


The program includes:

  • Han-noh [half-noh]: Mochizuki. This truncated version of the noh revenge play Mochizuki includes a charming child’s dance as well as the most extravagant and frenetic dances in the noh repertory, the “Lion Dance.”

  • Kyogen: Tsurigitsune (Trapping of the Fox). Said to be one of the most challenging plays in the kyogen repertory, this piece demands the highest skills from the most seasoned performers.

  • Noh: Tsuchigumo (The Earth Spider). Known as one of the most shockingly flamboyant works in the noh repertory, this play has spectacular visual effects and rich music.

    In Japanese with English subtitles.

    Tickets: $60; Japan Society members $50. (There are a limited number of $100 gala tickets available to members only for prime seating and a post-show champagne reception to meet the artists.) 

    Ticket-holders will be granted free admission to Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation until 7:30 pm prior to the performance on both days.

    • Friday, December 10, 2004
    • 7:30 pm