Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The 10th Public Lecture Held by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Stage performance at Public Lecture

 On December 18th, the Department held the Public Lecture under the title of “Melody and Accent of Japanese Music―from the Medieval Period through the Early Modern Period―” (at Heiseikan Auditorium). With the focus on Noh (Noh chant; a medieval performing art) and Nagauta (long epic song; an early-modern performing art), the lecture was delivered jointly with Professor Kiyoe Sakamoto of Japan Women’s University, a Japanese language scholar, on the correspondence relation as to how Japanese language accent had its influence over the melody of songs. Then, the participants all enjoyed a stage performance of Noh chant “Matsukaze (wind blowing through the pine trees)” in which the melody of the Momoyama period was restored and a stage performance of Nagauta “Tsuru Kame (crane and turtle)”. It was clearly understood that influential relation varied by category, changed over different time periods, etc. A total of 285 participants were present. Many feedbacks were obtained, which especially mentioned that the content consisting of a lecture combined with stage performances by a Noh player and a Nagauta player was very interesting.

Recording of Noh chanting by SEKINE Shouroku of the Kanze school

Recording SEKINE Shouroku

 Noh chants from Sotoba Komachi were performed by the preeminent SEKINE Shouroku, a lead actor in the Kanze school of Noh, and recorded on March 13. A Noh play intended primarily for the initiated, Sotoba Komachi features the part of an old woman that can only be performed by veteran actors with years of experience. Somewhat more complex techniques than are normally used are used to portray the old woman’s mindset. Plans are to continue with this recording work after April and record the old woman’s part.

The 9th public lecture at the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo

Kaido-kudari” by the Kyogen actor SATO Tomohiko

 On October 18, a 9th public lecture took place at the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. The lecture was held in Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum. The topic of the lecture was “Michiyuki as Popular Songs: The Origins and Spread of Noh and Kyogen songs with a focus on ‘Kaido-kudari.’” Michiyuki, or a song describing sceneries seen along a journey, have long captured people’s hearts and have become popular songs. Led by a lecture by OKADA Mitsuko of the Osaka Institute of Technology, the public lecture dealt with how Michiyuki influenced Soga (ballads popular among nobles, samurai, and Buddhist priests that were popular in the Kamakura Period), Noh and Kyogen songs, and Michiyuki that have been passed down until today. In the third portion of the public lecture, SATO Tomohiko (an Izumi-style Kyogen actor) and ASAKURA Toshiki (a Hoshu-style Noh actor) performed chants and komai (lit. small dances), which were well received by lecture attendees.

Study of a hand drum unearthed at the Baba Minami site

A hand drum unearthed at the Baba Minami site (Photo: Kyoto Prefecture Research Center for Archaeological Properties)

 An earthen hand drum which had been found at the Baba Minami site in the City of Kizugawa, Kyoto Prefecture was studied. Until this hand drum was unearthed in 2008, the only ceramic hand drum in Japan was the tricolored drum in the Shosoin (the treasure house of the Todaiji temple in Nara). It is clear that they were used in the almost same time, in the late of 8th century. The discovery of this hand drum has great significance in terms of the history of musical instruments. The reconstructed drum is described in a 2010 report and in an article by Ms. MATSUO in the bulletin of the Kyoto Prefecture Research Center, but the descriptions differ. Ms. MATSUO explained the reason for this discrepancy. Examination of the drum indicated that different reconstruction techniques may have been used in the report and in the article by Ms. MATSUO. Plans are to study the drum further and compile theories on ancient ceramic hand drums.

A study of Noh scripts written by Zeami

 Hozan-ji in the City of Ikoma, Nara Prefecture has a number of noh texts written by Zeami, himself in 14th century. Those texts include some musical notes alongside verses. Those notes were examined in detail, providing clues to how Zeami composed the works.

Recording of Hanago by the Izumi school of Kyogen

Recording of Mr. SATO Tomohiko

 There are two main schools of Kyogen, the Izumi and the Okura. Kyogen performances and scripts of the two schools differ. In fact, traditions can differ even within the same school. There are three traditions within the Izumi school: Kyogen Kyodosha (Nagoya), the NOMURA Matasaburo Family (now residing in Nagoya), and the NOMURA Manzo and NOMURA Mansaku families (originally from Kanazawa). The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has studied Kyogen performances. As part of that research, SATO Tomohiko of Kyogen Kyodosha was recorded performing Hanago. Hanago is a piece primarily in the form of a ballad. Hanago is a naraimono, or a piece requiring special skills that one is not authorized to perform until reaching a certain age.

7th Public lecture of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

7th public lecture

 On December 8, the Society to Preserve Yamaguchi’s Sagi School was invited to present a public lecture at the Heiseikan. The lecture was entitled “Carrying on Yamaguchi’s Sagi school of Kyogen (traditional Japanese comic theater): Recordings in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.” The Department of Performing Arts, the predecessor of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, began recording the Yamaguchi’s Sagi school of Kyogen in 1958. The performer is now deceased, and the recording features many pieces that are no longer passed on. While enjoying and analyzing these pieces, attendees discussed the future preservation of Yamaguchi’s Sagi school of Kyogen. Attendees also enjoyed Miyagino and Busu, both of which have been passed on. The Sagi School is a style that disappeared from central Japan during the Meiji Era, and its pieces are seldom performed in Tokyo. Attendees expressed great thanks for this meaningful opportunity.

Research on the Kyogen of Yamguchi Sagi School

Interview with Mr. KOBAYASHI Eiji

 The 7th Public Lecture, organized annually by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will be held in December 2012, with the Kyogen of the Yamaguchi Sagi School as its theme. The Sagi School had been one of the Schools of Kyogen in central Japan until it was abolished under the confusion in the Meiji Restoration. In Yamaguchi prefecture, however, the tradition was maintained until present thanks to SYUNNICHI Syosaku, a Kyogen performer who taught his performing skills to the nonprofessionals. Now the preservation society for Yamaguchi Sagi School has formed and was designated as the intangible cultural properties of Yamaguchi prefecture. Department of Performing Arts, the predecessor of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, conducted on-site recording of this Kyogen in 1958, which became the oldest record of the Kyogen of Yamaguchi Sagi School.
 The Department conducted the on-site research on September 18th, and interviewed with Mr. KOBAYASHI Eiji, the eldest member of the preserving society, about the situation of the transmission of the Sagi School. Its result will be introduced in the coming Public Lecture.

The Second Research Exchange with the South Korean National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage

Interview with NOMURA Mansaku, a Kyogen performer

 The second research exchange between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the South Korean National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage has begun according to the agreement signed last November. Following TAKAKUWA’s research in Korea in May, Ms. Lee Myoung-Jin, a researcher from Korea, visited Japan in July, and conducted research on Kyogen for a month.
 The ideas regarding intangible cultural heritage in Korea are different from those in Japan: the Korean ICH does not distinguish important intangible cultural properties from important intangible folk cultural properties, as they do in Japan.
 Most performing arts in Korea can be categorized as important intangible folk cultural properties under the Japanese classification system, and also the basic idea of “what is traditional?” differs from Japan to Korea. Thus, it is necessary to learn the differences in order to compare performing arts and their protection systems. However, during her visit, Ms. Lee seems to have deepened her cognizance of the meaning of tradition in Japan while interviewing the Kyogen performer of the Izumi School.

Research Exchanges with South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage: A Comparative Study of Buddhist Rituals

Monks and believers praying for their ancestors
A lantern for the Nento Festival

 A second round of research exchanges between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Folkloric Studies Division of South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage began based on an agreement concluded last November. During the first year of exchanges, Takakuwa visited South Korea for 2 weeks from May 18th to study Buddhist rituals. Buddhism plays a great role in both Japan and South Korea, but there are a number of differences in rituals and observances since Buddhism has developed in forms particular to each country.
 In South Korea, April 8th on the lunar calendar is Buddha’s birthday and a national holiday, and the Nento Festival or the Paper-lantern Festival is gaily celebrated 1 week prior to the Buddha’s birthday, even attracting tourists from abroad.
 Buddhists in South Korea, 90 percent of whom follow the Jogye order of Zen, worship Buddha every morning, noon, and night. This practice is similarly followed by Japanese Buddhists, but South Korea Buddhists appear to be more enthusiastic, with believers participating in overnight retreats and praying with monks.
 In addition, religious ceremonies are considered “religious acts” and are not designated as important intangible cultural properties in Japan. In South Korea, however, religious ceremonies are treated quite differently, as exemplified by the Yeongsan-jae ritual of the Taego order that has been inscribed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO. This comparative study of Buddhist rituals also revealed differences in Japanese and Korean perceptions beyond the Buddhist religion.

Restoration of Eten-raku Ima-yo

 Eten-raku, popular since the Kamakura period, is now known as Gagaku music performed at wedding ceremonies or as a Kuroda-bushi of Japanese folk songs. Though Gagaku was originally instrumental music, the melody of Eten-raku is a favorite among the Japanese. Eten-raku features varied verses. These are known as Eten-raku Ima-yo.
 Noh plays achieved success with Zeami in the early Muromachi period and sometimes set up a climactic scene by adopting the essence of other performing arts. For example, the play “Ume-gae” has a Gagaku musician’s wife as its heroine and features Eten-raku Ima-yo verses before the heroine dances as she recalls her past. The chanting melody has changed so much that it does not sound like Eten-raku anymore, but restoring the melody of the Momoyama Period should bring out the melody of Eten-raku. Ume-gae was performed publicly by Tessen-kai of the Kanze school in December and featured the melody of Eten-raku Ima-yo, which was restored with the cooperation of Dr. Takakuwa of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Study of old Noh performances by Dr. Takakuwa has shown that exchanges of the music from different genres, such as Gagaku and Noh, are evident on-stage.

Study of a newly donated item, a biwa (a type of lute) with mother-of-pearl designs of flowers and birds named Ko-Cho-Gen, in the Saga Prefectural Museum

The back of the biwa Ko-Cho-Gen in the Saga Prefectural Museum

 Recently donated to the Saga Prefectural Museum, a biwa (a type of lute) with mother-of-pearl designs of flowers and birds and named Ko-Cho-Gen was studied by the Institute’s Izumi TAKAKUWA and Prof. Haruko KOMOTA of the Musashino Academia Musicae. This biwa was imported by the Taketomi Family from their original home of Ming Dynasty China. This biwa is said to have been bought from a Qing merchant by the father of TAKETOMI Rensai (1638~1718), who built O-takara Seido. It is also said that Rensai played this biwa in the presence of the Emperor Gomizunoo and that it was Imperially bestowed the name “Ko-cho-gen.”
 The instrument has mother-of-pearl inlay on its back, which Mr. Tomio KOIKE of the Tokugawa Art Museum identified as a technique from Ming Dynasty China. However, the trunk of the biwa is plumper than other popular biwa from the Ming Dynasty, so this biwa is thought to belong to the Nan-pi Biwa tradition from south China. A bridge of this biwa, a part that was specific to Chinese biwa, may have been taken off in order to perform Japanese music. Plans are to conduct further studies by comparing this biwa to biwa in China.

Recording Kyo-kanze

 The Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music at Kyoto City University of Arts has been working on a project entitled “Recording Kyo-kanze” since May 2011. The Centre held a public lecture on “The tradition of Kyo-kanze: What can be gleaned from its records and memories” in February 2011 celebrating the 130th anniversary of the founding of the university. In conjunction with the lecture, Ms. Takakuwa, head of the Intangible Cultural Properties Section, participated in the project. Kyo-kanze is a traditional Utai (Noh chant) unique to Kyoto that survived until the mid-Taisho period. The form of Noh chanting is no longer practiced, but 50 years ago the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage recorded Kyo-kanze and 30 years ago the Department used those recordings to help produce records. As the repository of these materials, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will continue working with the Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music to revive the tradition of Kyo-kanze.

5th Public Lecture “Inheritance of Izumi-style Kyogen (Noh farce)” in Kanazawa

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held an annual public lecture at the Ishikawa Prefecture Noh Theater on December 12, jointly hosted with the Kanazawa University integration project — Japan-China cultural heritage project. Kanazawa City has the character of a locality where Noh has flourished since the Edo Period, and the Hosho-style Yokyoku and Izumi-style Kyogen are performed. We spotlighted the Izumi-style Kyogen this time. The tradition varies greatly between Kanazawa and Nagoya, even though the style is the same Izumi. We gave a lecture on the historic background and difference in actual performance, and asked the performers to act out a kyogen based on their different traditions. Although the audience was small, unlike in Tokyo, there were many ardent listeners, and the performances were well received.

Recording of 100-ban Hosho-style Yokyoku (Noh Songs) by Master Imai Yasuo achieved

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been recording the ban-utai of Master Imai Yasuo, the eldest Noh actor to perform in a Hosho style, since 2005. This September, the 100th ban-utai was recorded. The repertory of Hosho-style Yokyoku includes 210 pieces, and the major numbers have been produced a record. The memorable recording of the 100th Noh-song “Higaki” was a secret piece of music in the penetrallia which was not played as Noh, but only the utai was handed on. Mr. Imai, who is 90 years old this year, sang quietly in a straightforward manner, performing this song about a beautiful shirabyoshi (dancing girl), who grew older, fell on bad times and made a confession before a Buddhist monk. Passing on the collective recordings of Noh-songs sung by a Hosho-style Yokyoku master in the late Showa Period has a significant meaning. The plan is to continue this recording a little more.

Research on Musical Instrument Collection Heirlooms of the Kishu-Tokugawa Clan

 Since 2006, The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been participating as a research representative in the Research on Musical Instrument Collection Heirlooms of the Kishu-Tokugawa Clan, a joint research project with the National Museum of Japanese History. The Kishu-Tokugawa Clan, along with the Hikone-han, had an immense collection of Japanese traditional musical instruments at the end of the Edo Era, including many musical instruments with long histories. In July, we inserted a CCD camera into a Japanese harp and lute, observed the inscriptions written on the insides for supplementary survey, and obtained some information. Our report on this project will be presented in 2010.

Toward Recording 100-ban Hosho-style Yokyoku (Noh Songs)

Recording of a Noh song by Master Imai Yasuo

 The first time we asked Master Imai Yasuo, the eldest Noh actor of Hosho style, to record a ban-utai (singing a piece of Noh song without musical accompaniment) was in 2005. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to record a total 100 ban (pieces) of Hosho-style Yokyoku (Noh songs) (currently 180 in number), and make two recordings per month. Hokazou, recorded on June 29, brought the number of recorded tunes to 83.
 The techniques of singing Noh songs have varied somewhat depending on the historical period. Master Imai Yasuo was born in March 1921, and is still active on the stage, taking over and showing us the techniques and art of the masters of the Meiji and Taisho era.
 We consider this is a great opportunity to record his excellent skills, and to pass on Noh to future generations.

“Structure of Nohkan and Ryuteki Clarified by X-ray Radiography” Exhibited at Entrance Lobby

Clarifying the structure of Nohkan and Ryuteki using radiography

 The Institute periodically exhibits panels at the entrance lobby so that all visitors can see our research results. Starting at the end of March, we have been introducing the results of radiography study on flutes used in Noh, Nohkan. The Nohkan delivers a unique sharp tone: To do so, the inner diameter between the mouthpiece and the first ventage has been narrowed as an artifice. The subsequent crafting technique was conventionally known: An additional material called “nodo (throat)” was inserted into this portion to narrow the inner diameter. However, X-ray photography discovered several old Nohkan flutes whose inner diameter had been narrowed without inserting “nodo”. One researcher put forward the view that Nohkan was derived in the process when a broken Ryuteki was repaired by inserting a tenon. However, this theory must now be revised as a result of this X-ray photography conducted. With this exhibition, we are making preparations so that the sound from an old Nohkan can be heard, and we are also exhibitingthe X-ray photo of the Ryuteki housed in the Buddha statue in the Kamakura period. We are very happy that this exhibit allows people to actually hear Japanese traditional music.

Investigation of Musical Instruments in The Tokugawa Art Museum

 The Tokugawa Art Museum possesses many instruments used in gagaku and nohgaku. We investigated nohkan, ryuteki and hitoyogiri flutes in the Museum’s collection. Of the two nohkan in the collection, one named “Semiore” with a certificate of authenticity by the master Seibei VII of Fujita School of Noh is said to have been made by Shishida. Radiographs of this nohkan taken with the cooperation of researchers Otsuka and Matsushima at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques revealed that it was made not by using the conventional method but by using a single thick bamboo material. The small inner diameter of the nohkan between the hole for the mouth and first finger hole contributes to unique, sharp sound of the nohkan. While the conventional method involves inserting a separate piece called nodo (throat) into this portion, no sign of such a piece having been fitted was discovered. This points to the existence of a different method for making nohkan. According to some researchers, nohkan with a small inner diameter is a result of some incident in repairing a broken ryuteki. Our finding suggests that this theory needs to be corrected.

English Version of the Proceedings of the 30th International Symposium “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage”

A page from “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Vietnam and the Community Involvement in the Recent Years” by Nguyen Kim Dung

 The English version of the Proceedings of the 30th International Symposium “Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: International Cooperation and the Role of Japan” that was held from February 14 to 16, 2007 has been posted on our website. The symposium was held in response to the enactment of the “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage” in April, 2006. Those who wish can see this report at: (link rot)
Japanese version can be found at: (link rot)

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