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Ennen (延年)

A type of temple performance prevalent from the middle of the Heian era through the Kamakura era. Ennen was typically performed after large gatherings of monks at the more prominent temples such as Kōfukuji and Enryaku-ji. Ennen originally served as entertainment at parties of monks and children dressed in ceremonial clothing, to wine and dine noblemen and as a form of celebration. The ennen performances eventually drew many onlookers, and the monks who performed it became specialists, known as yūsō or kyōsō. Ennen developed a rich performance style, which had a profound effect on both Noh and kyōgen. In the Noh play Ataka, the shite, Benkei, performs Ennen no Mai, a kogaki that includes the form of ennen. Ennen began to disappear at the end of the Muromachi era, and only remains in a few areas in Japan, such as Mōtsūji in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, and Rinnōji in Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture.

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