Hayashidou Tokyo Performance: Program Explanations

Noh has various performance styles. Hayashidou introduces the allure of Noh and performs its classical music for audience enjoyment.


Noh Performance Styles



A performance of the music that accompanies the dance and movement in Noh. A simple way to enjoy and appreciate Noh music.




The climax of a Noh play performed not in full costume but in traditional formalwear. The protagonist’s movement is accompanied by music that includes the vocals and carefully timed silent pauses. During the performance, note the musicality within the movements.




A performance by one singer and one percussionist. Since the sequence is short, it requires more complexity and has more ornate rhythms than ordinary performances to give the audience the same satisfaction they would feel when watching a full Noh play. The dynamic performance style is a confrontation between the singer and the musician.



Program Explanations



The first half of the Sanbaso performed by a Kyogen actor wearing the Okina (old man) mask. Sanbaso is described as the dance of the spirit of the rice seedlings, and the momi in the title can be interpreted as the “unhusked rice.” The performance starts with intense drumming. The explosive rhythms of the Mominodan represent the vigor of life as the unhusked rice germinates. (The suzu bells rung by the actor, who is wearing a black mask, in the second half of Sanbaso, titled Suzunodan, symbolize the bountiful growth of the ears of rice.)


“Murasamedome” from “Yuya”

Lady Yuya, who is Lord Taira Munemori’s favorite courtesan, learns that her mother is gravely ill and wants to rush to her side. However, Munemori denies her permission to return to her hometown and instead requests she dance for him at the cherry blossom viewing party at Kiyomizu Temple. Holding back the tears, Yuya dances, but she stops when she sees that a spring shower has caused the blossoms to fall. This moment is depicted in “Murasamedome.” When the rain begins to fall, the tone of the flute indicates the fate the precipitation brings and the drums accentuate the sounds of the raindrops.


Utaura (Poem Divination)

A male shaman, who tells fortunes through waka poems, discovers in one poem that he will be reunited with his long-lost son. The shaman suddenly dies while traveling the provinces and three days later comes back to life. He shows everyone what he witnessed in the hells while he was dead. As he dances, he becomes possessed and is otherworldly. Finally, the spirit departs, the shaman regains his senses, and he takes his son back to his hometown in Ise.



“Hakushiki kamikagura” from “Miwa”

The plot is based in stories of marriages between deities and humans, where male deities visit female humans. It is also influenced by the belief that the female deity Amaterasu Okami and Omiwa Shrine (in Nara prefecture) are synonymous, and it reflects the legend of the Ama no Iwato cave. The protagonist is the enshrined deity of Omiwa Shrine who appears in female form despite being male. Hakushiki kamikagura is a kogaki (special interpretation) devised in Kyoto (by the Katayama family) at the end of the Edo period in the mid-19th century. The piece is erotic compared to standard kagura shrine dances and segues into a unique kagura, and then to secret music that expresses the serene, solemn divine world. In Noh, hakushiki refers to the protagonist’s totally white costume.


“Torioibune (Bird-Chasing Boat)”

The wife of a provincial lord, who is away in the capital, is ordered by the lord’s retainer, who is in charge in the lord’s stead, to drive away the birds that live off the farmland using drums. The bird-chasing boat bears the wife’s reluctance and intolerance through the chaotic beating of the drums. Part of this common autumn scene is depicted with the contrasting sounds of the small and large drums.


“Shiranaminoden” from “Funa-Benkei (Benkei in a Boat)”

Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who succeeded in annihilating the Heike clan, is mistrusted by his older brother Yoritomo and chased out of the capital. With Benkei and other loyal followers, he sets sail for the western provinces. Along the way, the weather worsens. The ghost of Heike’s top general Taira no Tomomori appears out of the turbulent sea and attacks Yoshitsune and his party. Yoshitsune uses a sword and Benkei uses the power of Buddhist prayer to fight Tomomori and the other ghosts back into the sea, which is left covered in white foam.  Shiranaminoden, a kogaki, follows a more rapid form, and the music highlights the attacking Tomomori’s strength and the tension of the combat. This Kongo-style kogaki, as a maibayashi, has a highly unusual form where the side character poses on stage in standing postures used in Kyogen and other arts. Despite being a maibayashi, this piece verges on being Noh.


Click here for Hayashido Tokyo Performance details