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Men-uchi (面打)

Makers of Noh and kyōgen masks. The term also refers to the work of making masks. “Kamenfu” (A Genealogy of Masks) is a book written in 1797 (Kansei 9) by the ninth head of the Kita school, Kita Shichidayū Hisayoshi (1742-1829). In the book, the author categorised the mask-makers from the ancient age through the Momoyama period as Shinsaku, Jissaku, Rokusaku, Kosaku, or Nakasaku. Shinsaku includes some legendary manufacturers such as Shōtoku Taishi (Prince Shōtoku, or Umayado no ōji) and Kōbō-Daishi (Kūkai), but the makers categorised in Jissaku and the others are regarded as actual professional mask-makers. After the Momoyama period, mask-making became hereditary work and families including “Ōno Demeke”, “Echizen Demeke” and “Ōmi Isekike” met demand from a variety of daimyo, and also evaluated masks throughout the Edo period. After the Edo shogunate collapsed and times changed, the hereditary families of mask makers became extinct, and their tradition has hardly been handed down. For this reason, each of the makers today makes efforts and studies hard to model after the masks made in and before the Edo period.

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