The Blossoming Spirits: Noh Lecture-Performance

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan, Noh Society, Fukuyama Kita Association, and with support from The Tokyo Club

This program will be presented in Japanese with English translation.

Experience & learn about the classical Japanese theater of Noh with Kinue Oshima, the first female Noh actor from the Kita School, and her brother Teruhisa Oshima who is also an acclaimed Kita School Noh actor.

A full costume performance of “Hashitomi", a Noh play based on the character Yugao (Moonflower) from The Tale of Genji, combined with demonstrations will provide both insight and enjoyment. The program will include a music & dance excerpt from “Tadanori” and a lecture about the various performance elements of Noh.


Kinue Oshima, Shite-kata Noh performer (Kita School)
Teruhisa Oshima, Shite-kata Noh performer (Kita School)
Narumi Takizawa, Fue (flute)-kata Noh musician (Isso School)
Naoko Takahashi, Kotsuzumi (small hand drum)-kata Noh musician (Okura School)



There was a man in service to Fujiwara no Shunzei (the compiler of an imperial poetry anthology, the Senzaishū) and who renounced the world after the death of his master. On a spring day, he decides to visit places in the western region of Japan and departs Kyoto with his fellow monks. On their way, they stop at Suma Bay and find a cherry tree. Then, an old man appears before them and prays to the cherry tree to console someone’s soul. Finding the old man, the traveling monk calls out to him and they have a conversation. The sun sets quickly. The monk asks the old man if he can accommodate the monk’s group for the night. Then, the old man quotes a poem composed by Taira no Tadanori and recommends that they stay under the cherry tree for the night. He further mentions that he wants them to perform a memorial ceremony for the tree because it is the grave marker of Tadanori. When the monk holds a memorial service, the old man is delighted and disappears behind the cherry tree.

When the traveling monk sleeps under the cherry tree, the ghost of Tadanori appears in his dream. He laments that his poem was published anonymously in the Senzaishū anthology and requests that the monk talk to Fujiwara no Teika, who is the son of Shunzei and also a renowned poet, and have him clarify that the author of the poem is Tadanori. After showing the scene of his death in the Battle of Ichi-no-tani, the ghost returns to his place under the cherry tree while asking the monk to hold a memorial service for him.


Near the end of the period of summer ascetic training, called Ango or Geango (cloistering himself for seated meditation for ninety days), a Buddhist monk living in Unrin-in Temple in Kitayama, Kyoto, prays to console the spirits of flowers offered to Buddha every day. At dusk a woman appears and offers a white flower. When the monk asks the name of the exceptionally beautiful flower, the woman answers that it is a moonflower. Pressing on, he asks the woman’s name, she says that her identity will soon be revealed even she does not give her name. Further, the woman says she came from the shadow of this flower and lives somewhere near Gojō in Kyoto. Leaving these words, she disappears in the moonflower.

After listening to the tale of the love affair between Hikaru Genji and Lady Yūgao (Moonflower) from a villager, the monk visits the Gojō area, following the woman’s story. When the monk visits this place, there is a lonely-looking house just as in the past, with hinged half wall grilles entangled with blooming moonflowers. When the monk tries to console Lady Yūgao’s soul, the one who appears by opening up the hinged half wall grille is the ghost of Lady Yūgao. She narrates the memory of her love for Hikaru Genji and dances. Lady Yūgao repeatedly begs the monk to console her soul and returns inside the hinged half wall grille before the break of day. It was all a dream the monk had. Everything happens in the monk’s dream.

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