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Shiki-sanban (式三番)

A kind of divine service classified in Noh but not a genuine Noh play. It is usually called “Okina”. This is performed mainly at New Year and celebrations to pray for world peace, national tranquillity, and a bountiful grain harvest. “Shiki-sanban” was the general term for a celebratory dance of three old men, consisting of “chichi-no-jō”, “Okina”, and “sanban sarugaku” (later called Sanbasō). After the Muromachi period, however, “chichi-no-jō” was no longer performed. At present, it usually consists of the following: “Appearance of the various roles”, “Dance by a herald (Chitose)”; “Congratulatory speech and dance by old man with white hair (Okina)”; and “Groundwork dance and celebration dance by old man with black hair (Sanbasō)”. It is a special kind of performance that differs from ordinary Noh and Kyōgen plays in many ways. Since it is a Shinto ritual, all the performers must do their best to religiously purify themselves.

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