On Sunday, four days after my return to Tokyo (during which time I also had to move house, start a new language school, and also start two new jobs), I made my first public appearance as a Noh performer.
I still can't quite believe it. In a fit of enthusiasm earlier in October, seduced by the chance to appear on on one of the most beautiful stages ever, I'd agreed to prepare a shimai (a short dance) from the play Hagoromo (The Feather Mantle) for the Kita Noh School's annual noh variety performance. What didn't cross my mind at the time, and definitely should have, was my total lack of experience. Most of the people who call themselves 'students' of the Kita Noh School have in fact been performing for the better part of their lives. Extremely well. My first ever experience of Noh was at the end of August this year...
When the time actually came though, I managed, thankfully, to escape any absolutely overt humiliation.
The day kicked off with Noh singing, but then (eek) it was on to the solo dance stage of the performance. Erk. The only thing that stopped me from being sick on my kimono was the even more illness-inducing thought of having to pay for the damage...
After a slightly hesitant start
I got into it, and remembered what I was supposed to do.
The story is simple enough: an angel loses her feather mantle on a trip to Earth. Without the mantle she can never return to heaven. A poor man finds it, and demands that she dance for him in exchange for the mantle's return. The dance is elegant, almost painfully slow and controlled, and if it's done properly, should have an entrancing, otherworldly quality to it. This time, I was simply delighted to have got to the stage of 'getting the movements in the right order'. Phew!
Wearing a kimono for the first time was pretty amazing, too. I've never seen a piece of clothing so complicated to assemble (it takes YEARS to learn how to put a kimono on yourself), but I've also never seen anything quite so astoundingly beautiful either. Lucky me. Roll on the next performance!
Here are the rest of the photos.