Classical Japanese Noh Theatre – "The Well" and "The Stone Bridge" | Play | Ivan Vazov National Theatre
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Classical Japanese Noh Theatre – "The Well" and "The Stone Bridge"

Yamamoto Noh Theatre
01 h 30 m
Classical Japanese Noh Theatre

Classical Japanese Noh Theatre – "The Well" and "The Stone Bridge"


Creative and production team:

Akihiro YAMAMOTO, Motoharu YOSHI, Fumihisa OONISHI, Noboru YASUDA, etc.

About Noh Theatre:

Theatre Noh was born nearly 7 centuries ago. It is the oldest classical performing art that still exists in its original form and continues to be performed without a break from tradition. The origins of Noh are deep-rooted - it started as a set of rituals, many of which honored the souls of the dead through dance and song. Gradually the troupes gained the patronage of the higher feudal lords, who consolidated Noh's position as the art of the samurai class. From the 16th century onwards, the ability to sing and dance Noh became part of the core education of the samurai. Even in modern Japan, Noh continues to be one of the most revered performing arts. It combines many traditional elements and plays a key role in shaping Japanese cultural identity. This is why many Japanese - from businessmen to housewives - study it as a hobby. In 2008, Noh theatre was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO.

About Yamamoto Noh Theatre:

Founded in 1927, the Yamamoto Noh Theatre is the oldest Noh theatre in Osaka in existence today. The theater is registered as a national tangible cultural heritage of Japan. The theatre organizes and presents various events, mainly in the field of Japanese classical performing arts. But the Yamamoto Theatre combines traditional Japanese architecture with new technologies such as LED lighting, mobile apps and multilingual subtitles, thus succeeding in attracting a wide Japanese and foreign audience. One of the theater's main goals is to present traditional Noh theater as a living, relevant, and functioning classical performing art in modern times. Since 2010, Yamamoto Theatre has been presenting Noh theatre annually outside Japan with over 50 performances and 60 workshops in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, France, Italy, Finland, Macedonia, Albania, etc. The theatre actively cooperates with local actors as well as a number of cultural and diplomatic institutions with the objective of long-term professional and cultural exchange.

A short introduction of the performance:

On the occasion of the triple anniversary of bilateral relations between Japan and the Republic of Bulgaria, celebrated in 2024 (115 years since the beginning of official contacts, 85 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations and 65 years since their restoration), Yamamoto Noh Theatre will present the classic Noh play "The Well" on the stage of the Ivan Vazov National Theatre. The performance will end with a celebratory dance from the play "The Stone Bridge".

"The Well" (Izutsu)

During a visit to Ariwara Temple, a wandering Buddhist priest meets a young woman who tells him the local legend of the ancient poet Ariwara no Narihira and his wife. After confessing that she is the spirit of Narihira's wife, the mysterious woman melts into the shadows. The Priest decides to spend the night in mortuary prayer and waiting for a reunion with the spirit of the Woman of the Well.

"The Well" (in Japanese "Izutsu") is a play more than 6 centuries old. It is a classic representative of the "illusory" genre in Noh, in which the main characters are spirits who take the form of ordinary people in the first act and reveal themselves in their true spirit form in the second. The Buddhist notion that attachment and love trap the human soul in the material world and prevent it from achieving true liberation emerges as the play's central theme.

In his treatise on dramaturgy, "Sarugaku-dangi", the dramaturge Zeami classified it as a play of "the highest class". "The Well" is based on Chapter 23 of the classic collection of stories and poems, "Tales from Ise" (Ise-monogatari), and is based on the assumption, popular in the 14th century, that the literary characters are in fact the real person Arivara no Narihira and his wife, the daughter of Ki-no-Aritsune. The play is a window to the hearts of the ancient Japanese - their longings, sufferings and fears.

"The Stone Bridge" (Shakkyo)

The festive dance of the legendary Shishi beasts in the play "The Stone Bridge" (Shakkyo) is often presented as a stand-alone performance. The scene of this dance is the mysterious Shakkyo Stone Bridge, the link between the earthly realm of humans and the sacred land of the bodhisattva Monju. Adorned with blooming peonies, this bridge is guarded by two mythical Shishi beasts, chimeras between a dog and a lion. Amidst this picturesque landscape, the beasts engage in playful banter and perform a majestic dance, blessing all who witness their performance with good fortune and longevity.

*The production is performed with Bulgarian and English subtitles.


Photo credit:

Yamamoto Noh Theatre

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