The Takigi Noh Festival   京都 薪能

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A representation of Takigi Noh, by the light of a torch, in a magical atmosphere.

A representation of Takigi Noh, by the light of a torch, in a magical atmosphere.

Poster of the 65th festival Takigi Noh in Kyoto.

Poster of the 65th festival Takigi Noh in Kyoto.

Nighttime Noh

Noh theater is even more subtle and mysterious when performed on the dark, nighttime backgdrop of Heian Jingu Shrine.

Inside Heian-jingu , a stage is bathed by the light of torches. The atmosphere is that of fantasy, and the audience holds its breath as the actors enter, those of the Kanze school, one of Japan's most prestigious.

Like the traditional dance kagura, this ceremonial theater is deeply rooted in the Shinto religion and prefers darkness and shade to light. The tradition of Noh Takigi-- rooted in the very origins of Noh-- is inspired by sarugaku dance and has been held in Kofuku-ji temple in Nara since the ninth century.

Revival in Kyoto

It was only much later that it moved to Kyoto-- in 1950-- with the aim of reviving an essential part of Japanese culture in the years just after the war. The timing is also important: the beginning of June is when the 2,000 hanashobu and ayame flowers (two varieties of iris) of Heian-jingu are in full bloom.

60 years later, the Takigi Noh Festival in Kyoto has become an institution in the former imperial capital, marking the beginning of summer and paying tribute to the deities. Programming is provided by the Kanze school, which has maintained the theatrical tradition of Noh for 700 years, and is represented by the great master Kiyokazu Kanze (born in 1959, the 25th to possess this name).

Starring in this 65th edition of the festival:

- June 1: Takasago, Matsukaze, Shakkyo and Chigiriki (part of Kyogen comic theater that serves as an interlude between Noh acts).

- June 2: Yashima, Hanagatami, Shakkyo and Shidohogaku (Kyogen).

Extract of Takigi Noh (2013), video McLAREN.

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