Stepping into Noh in Nara


“An empty sky of music, a rain of flowers, strange fragrance on every side; all these are no common things, nor is this cloak that hangs upon the pine tree…”
These are some of the beautiful words spoken in that ancient Noh play, Hagoromo, or The Feather Mantle.


It is a traditional story of an interaction between a fisherman and a Tennin, an aerial spirit or celestial dancer. It takes place in an old world that feels both simpler and more susceptible to visits from aerial spirits.


Though most of us just read these stories, visitors to Nara will have the chance to learn and feel the power of Noh and what this story is about. Twice in early February, 2020, a Noh experience and workshop will be held at Kasugano International Forum IRAKA in Nara City. First, participants will have the chance to view a performance and learn about the story, the roles in Noh, and the instruments used in the performance. Then in the workshop, participants can try on some of the costumes and play one of the instruments. It is a rare chance to cross into a world that is usually exclusive to performers and professionals, and feel both the power of this story and the sights, sounds, and textures of the traditional Japanese art.