Over the next several days, Buffalo will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its sister city relationship with Kanazawa, Japan. The events will culminate with a rare performance of the Noh drama, a classical Japanese mask theater tradition 700 years old.
The Japanese Garden in Delaware Park, a gift from Kanazawa, has long been a treasured part of our city’s landscape. How many wedding parties queue up on summer weekends to take their pictures there? On Monday at 10:00 a.m., the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the City of Buffalo will hold a commemorative ceremony of anniversary and creation of the Japanese Garden.
Mayor Brown will speak, and there will be a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and kenka, or floral tribute. There is a suggested donation of $5.
This is in celebration of the Buffalo-Kanazawa Sister City 50th Anniversary.
In addition, there will be a special performance of Noh theater on Tuesday…
The Noh drama is a classical Japanese mask theater tradition 700 years old. Short of going to Japan, one might never have the chance to experience this theater, but this Tuesday, April 17, the Noh theater is coming to Buffalo. Toshihiko Yabu, a Japanese National Cultural Asset, has brought the entire troupe of Noh actors and musicians from Kanazawa, Japan.
What is Noh?
Noh preserves what all other important
contemporary theater has lost; its origin in ritual, reflecting an essentially
Buddhist view of existence. The performance looks and sounds more like solemn
observance than life. The actors are hieratic, playing their ancient roles of
intermediaries between the worlds of gods and men. To the bare stage come
soberly dressed instrumentalists, the six-or-eight member chorus, then the
supporting character (waki),
handsomely robed, often as a priest. Finally, out of the darkness at the end of
the long passageway leading to the stage proper, evoked by drums and flute, the
resplendently caparisoned (usually masked) leading character (shite) materializes. In
strict rhythms, out of music, voice, and movement rather than the artifice of
stagecraft, time and space are created and destroyed. Language is largely
poetic. Costumes are rich and heavy, movement, even in dance, deliberate. The shite seeks intercession by
the waki and, having attained it
at the end, returns to the darkness freed of karma. (Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, p.
While Noh is an embodiment of Japanese high traditional culture, even with such ancient pedigree it is no taxidermist’s artifact; on the contrary, it is most vital and alive. A highlight of the evening will be a Noh dance performed to Mozart’s Serenade in G, played by 11 musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. This will be followed by a performance of the shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute, played by Joshua Smith and Hidefumi Izukawa.
The shakuhachi, like the Noh theater, has deep Buddhist roots. The second half of the evening will be devoted to Aoi no Ue, the most popular play in the Noh repertoire.
Come and enjoy a once in a lifetime
performance Tuesday evening starting at 7:30 p.m. at University at Buffalo
Center for the Arts. Tickets are $25 general, $15 student, and are available at
the Center for the Arts box office.