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Ashirai (アシライ)

Written with the same kanji as “to bow,” this extremely widely used term essentially means “to attend to.” In performance terminology, ashirai refers to the movement in which the performer stands directly across from another performer. In hayashi terminology, it refers to the relatively subtle accompaniment of this movement by the hayashi. There are many forms of Ashirai – it may be performed in response to the entrance of the shite, or by the flutes in accompaniment of the ōtsuzumi and kotsuzumi. Ashirai, or kyōgen ashirai is also used in reference to the entrance of the hayashi inkyōgen. Ai that are actively involved in the progression of the vocals or that exchange dialogue with the shite, as in the case of the ai (ai kyōgen) in Noh’s Kantani, are known as ashirai-ai. Keeping time with the fan during practice is also known as ashirai.

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