“Roles” Terms

Hatsu-omote (初面)

To put on a mask and perform Noh for the first time. Children who practice Noh from an early age tak...

Sarugaku-dangi (申楽談儀)

An esoteric book of Noh. With the formal title “Zeshi rokuju igo Sarugaku dangi”, it was written by ...

Fukuō-ryū (福王流)

A Noh school of waki actors. The founder of the school, Fukuō Kamiemon Moritada (1521-1606), was a S...

Takayasu-ryū (高安流)

A Noh school of waki actors. Its origins go back to Takayasu Chōsuke (died 1585), who lived in Takay...

Shimogakari Hōshō-ryū (下掛宝生流)

A Noh school of waki actors. The Shimogakari style was founded by Konparu Gonshichi Yūgen (d. 1692),...

Fujita-ryū (藤田流)

One of the Noh flute schools. The founder of the school was Fujita Seibee Shigemasa (1600 (Keichō 5)...

Morita-ryū (森田流)

One of the Noh flute schools. The artistic lineage of the school’s founder, Morita Shobee (1597 - 16...

Issō-ryū (一噌流)

One of the Noh flute schools. The founder of the school was Nakamura Shichirōzaemon (died in 1539), ...

Shukkin-ryō (出勤料)

The fee for performing Noh and Kyōgen. In the Noh world, a performer’s appearance on stage is calle...

Nochi-shite (後シテ)

For the characters to change masks, costumes, etc., they often enter the curtain or go behind the pi...

Mae-shite (前シテ)

For the characters to change masks, costumes, etc., they often enter the curtain or go behind the pi...

Ninzū-mono (人数物)

A play with many characters and glamorous stage scenes. If the number of characters in a Noh play is...

Shichō (紫調)

Hemp tension strings between the heads of tabors and drums are called “shirabe-o”, or more simply “...

Nihon Nohgaku-kai (日本能楽会)

Japan Nohgaku Organization. A general incorporated association consisting of members selected from ...

Nohgaku Kyōkai (能楽協会)

The Nohgaku Performers’ Association. A public-interest incorporated association whose full members a...

Kirikumi (斬組ミ)

Swordfight used by many samurai in battle scenes. It appears in the plays “Shōzon”, “Eboshi-ori”, e...

Noh-hon (能本)

An old name for Noh scripts. Noh-hon and utai-bon (books of Noh chants) are both for written verses...

Kahōmono (果報者)

One of the roles in kyōgen plays. Kahōmono refers to rich and lucky men, often seen as leading chara...

Kanetsuri-kōken (鐘吊後見)

A part in the Noh play "Dōjōji" that involves carrying the fake bell to the stage, hanging it with ...

Kanetsuri (鐘吊)

A part in the Noh play "Dōjōji" that involves carrying the fake bell to the stage, hanging it with ...

Ningen Kokuhō (人間国宝)

Popular name for certified people with high levels of artistic skill who take part in performing ar...

Noh-gakushi (能楽師)

Performers involved in the art of Noh (Noh and kyōgen) as their profession. Responsibility for thei...

Gakuya (楽屋)

Rooms behind the Noh stage where the performers to carry out their preparations. Gakuya usually cons...

Aka daijin (赤大臣)

Waki-tsure actors wearing red awase-kariginu (lined informal kimono). They often appear in waki-noh ...

Onna-sarugaku (女猿楽)

A term referring to sarugaku performed by female actors, or to the actors who perform sarugaku. The ...

Riken (離見)

A term used in Zeami's treatises on Noh. It is used for actors leaving behind their own viewpoint an...

Hana (花)

A word referring to the charm of a stage performance. In his theories, Zeami likened Hana to "intere...

Waranbe Gusa (わらんべ草)

Treatise of late Edo era kyōgen. Written by Yaemon Toraakira (1597-1662), 13 th generation head of t...

Ran-noh (乱能)

Noh has many specialized roles including the shitekata, wakikata, hayashikata and kyōgenkata, and in...

Shimotsuma Shōshin (下間少進)

Shimotsuma Shōshin lived from 1551 to 1616. He was a monk at Honganji and amateur Noh performer from...

Isshisōden (一子相伝)

Secrets and deep knowledge passed from a Noh practitioner to only one child. There are plays, perfor...

Sanyaku (三役)

A collective name for the wakikata, kyōgenkata and hayashikata as opposed to the shitekata. There ar...

Enmeikaja (延命冠者)

Okina has been called “Noh, yet not Noh,” as it is really more a Shinto ritual or prayer song than ...

Chichinojō (父尉)

Okina has been called “Noh, yet not Noh,” as it is really more a Shinto ritual or prayer song than ...

Okinanashi (翁ナシ)

A type of special performance in okinatsuki-wakinoh which leaves out the okina. As the okina is lef...

Hankaikō (半開口)

A special performance among okinatsuki-wakinoh used in atypical wakinoh such as Tamai where there i...

Kaikō (開口)

Chant performed at the start of wakinoh with the entrance of the waki to show that the waki is unre...

Reiwaki (礼脇)

One type of special performance always included in okinatsuki-wakinoh. At the start of the play, th...

Menbakomochi (面箱持)

In Okina (shiki sanba), play that prays for peace and security of the nation, the mask representing...

Nohriki (能力)

A monk of low status at a temple that performs manual labor. Or, a monk of a temple. They appear as ...

Suppa (すっぱ)

A character in kyōgen. A swindler. In kyōgen, the suppa uses fancy words to trick peasants out of th...

Shiwaihito (しわい人)

A stingy person that never wants to pays. Nanigashi, who appears in Bonsan, is asked by an acquainta...

Yamabushi (山伏)

A character in kyōgen. Living a ascetic life in the mountains and said to possess supernatural power...

Sōryo (僧侶)

A character in kyōgen. Living a ascetic life in the mountains and said to possess supernatural power...

Ado (アド)

The supporting actor to the shite (main actor) in kyōgen. When there are more than one ado, they are...

Daimyō (大名)

A character in kyōgen. While daimyō refers to someone with power, land and subjects, certain daimyō ...

Jirō Kaja (次郎冠者)

A character in kyōgen plays. Jirō Kaja does not refer to a specific person, but rather to the protég...

Tarō Kaja (太郎冠者)

A famous character in kyōgen plays. Tarō Kaja does not refer to a specific person, but rather to a h...

Bekka (別火)

A period of purifying fasting and abstention before the performance of Shikisanban (Okina), one of t...

Kokata (子方)

Roles played by children in Noh that include the entrance of the shitekata. There are two types of k...

Chakuza (着座)

Chakuza, or “taking one’s seat” refers to the performers sitting in their designated areas on stage....

Kakeri (カケリ)

Kakeri, or “anguish dance,” refers to the movement indicating the deranged state of warriors that ha...

Kōken (後見)

The role that overseas the performance in Noh and kyōgen. A proper kōken has an equivalent or higher...

Hayashikata (囃子方)

The instrumental performers in Noh, the hayashikata are divided into the fuekata, kotsuzumikata, ōts...

Jiutaikata (地謡方)

The chorus of performers that sings the verses to certain Noh sequences, around eight jiutaikata sit...

Kyōgenkata (狂言方)

In addition to performing and acting as the kōken and jiutai in kyōgen, the kyōgenkata acts as the a...

Ai (アイ)

Ai, written with the kanji meaning “middle,” refers to the role of the kyōgenkata in Noh. Appearing ...

Tomo (トモ)

The role accompanying the shite or tsure, known as tomo when playing the role of a sword bearer or o...

Waki (ワキ)

Waki, written with the kanji meaning “side,” is the supporting actor in Noh. The waki has an importa...

Tsure (ツレ)

The performer appearing after the shite in Noh. Tsure is written with the kanji meaning “to accompan...

Shite (シテ)

The lead role in Noh and kyōgen. Written in kanji as either “doing-hand” or “useful-hand,” the shite...


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