Though Noh is a traditional Japanese play that has been performed for over 600 years, it is unpopular among the majority of Japanese people, or most of them have never seen Noh.
Unfortunately, traditional Japanese culture seems to be incompatible with modern Japan, and Noh seems to be no exception.
However, I sometimes go to see Noh, and I believe that Noh is amazing Japanese culture that should be left to future generations.
Many people think that Noh is an unintelligible play.
I’m not smart, but I don’t think that Noh is unintelligible (however, it is very profound).
So I’ll state how to appreciate Noh this time.
Why is Noh unpopular among modern Japanese people?
I think there are two reasons for this.
The first reason is the language barrier.
Noh actors speak their lines in the old Japanese language.
We modern Japanese cannot make out what they are saying.
The second reason is monotony.
Though Noh is a drama set to music, it is more conservative compared to Kabuki or Opera.
Noh actors don’t move in an exciting way, and they are always expressionless or wearing a Noh mask.
These two reasons suggest that Noh is not a simple, easy from of entertainment.
All the stories of Noh (there are at least 250 stories of Noh) are based on historical Japanese facts, mythology, or legend.
One Noh story is one Noh play.
Noh actors speak their lines in the old Japanese language, and it shows that Noh has not changed since ancient times.
But we modern Japanese cannot understand the language that the actors use.
Thereby, we need to grasp the story in advance.
For example, before I appreciate the Noh story called “Okina”, I get a Noh script of Okina, and I read it carefully.
The Noh script is written in the old Japanese language, but I can decipher it if I take my time. As a consequence, I can grasp the Noh story.
In Noh appreciation, grasping the story in advance is the major premise.
By doing this, I no longer need to concentrate on what the Noh actors are saying.
A Noh story is not for fun, unlike the exciting developments in the Harry Potter story.
Many people try to enjoy Noh as entertainment. As a result, they get confused, and they always say “Noh is unintelligible”.
I don’t think that the Noh is entertainment.
I believe that Noh is a kind of art.
Listening to the beautiful chanting of the actors is so tasteful.
In addition, the theatre musical accompaniment supports the actors’ chanting.
I listen to the Noh actors chanting beautiful music, almost like classical music.
I think that both Noh and classical music help those who appreciate these styles of music to imagine things.
A sound is invisible, so it gives us the power to evoke the imagination.
For example, a Gregorian mode or a symphonic orchestra of “Pini di Roma” helps me imagine a nostalgic vision of ancient Roma.
In the same way, the Noh theatre musical accompaniment and the chanting of the Not actors, lead me to mysterious, ancient Japan.
For me, Noh and classical music are very similar.
Noh taught us how much awe and respect Japanese people had for nature, myriads of gods, and the spirit of a dead person.
For example, they were in awe of the majesty of the beautiful cherry blossoms.
So they associated the cherry blossoms with heavenly maidens, and Noh expressed this through ritual dance.
That shows their pure pleasure regarding the cherry blossoms or the coming of spring.
Today, if we modern Japanese see the beautiful cherry blossoms, we would not be able to think of the heavenly maiden dancing around the cherry blossoms.
This is because that is unrealistic.
Though we Japanese may be materially rich, we might have lost the room in our minds.
We live in a reasonable, complicated, mechanical society.
We tend to want rationality or concreteness for everything.
In addition, we always desire to gain a profit.
Because of that, we lose the room in our minds and the pleasure of coexisting with Japanese nature.
Noh suggests to me various Japanese virtues.
Whenever I appreciate Noh, I feel like I can fulfill my potential about the sense of beauty.
And I may appreciate Noh to restore a peaceful, happy state of my mind.