Event notice: outdoor Noh Oct. 2 & 3

5 (Photo by Meguro Kunihiko)

Photo by Meguro Kunihiko

Join me at special performances of Noh and Kyogen at the Oyama Afuri Shrine on Mt. Oyama in Kanagawa Prefecture. On Oct. 2 and 3, 2019, top actors from the Kanze School of Noh — including Living National Treasures — will share their art outdoors, as Noh was originally performed. There will be an English guidebook and earphone commentary in English, making this an excellent opportunity both for those who are new to Noh and seasoned viewers who would like to deepen their appreciation.

Stage 3 Meguro Kunihiko

Noh outdoors at Oyama. Photo by Meguro Kunihiko.

Program: Wednesday Oct. 2

HITORI OKINA

A sacred rite in which the actors perform divine figures who dance for peace, prosperity, and safety across the land. Performed by Yamashina Yaemon, a Living National Treasure.

AFURI SHRINE KAGURA DANCE

A Shinto ritual dance for the gods performed by shrine maidens.

KYOGEN: HI-NO-SAKE (“The Liquor Pipe”)

Comical theater performed by Yamamoto Tojiro, a Living National Treasure.

NOH: TSUCHIGUMO (“The Ground Spider”)

The lead roles are played by Kanze Kiyokazu, the 26th generational hereditary head of the Kanze School of Noh.

Synopsis: In the first scene, a mysterious monk appears in front of the military commander Minamoto no Raiko, who is feeling ill. The monk hints that he is not what he appears and spins out threads, revealing that he is in fact a spider-like monster known as tsuchigumo. Raiko pulls out a sword by his pillow and attacks but the monk/monster disappears. In the second scene, Raiko’s retainers are assembled at Mt. Katsuragi, intending to hunt down the monster that has threatened their leader. A huge spider emerges from a mound in the ground and attacks again and again with spider threads. A fierce battles ensues but in the end the spider is slayed.

To reserve a seat for this performance with a 500 yen discount and including program and earphone rental (3,500 yen, payment at the door) sign up HERE:

Program: Thursday Oct. 3

HITORI OKINA

A sacred rite in which the actors perform divine figures who dance for peace, prosperity, and safety across the land. Performed by Kanze Yoshinobu.

AFURI SHRINE KAGURA DANCE

A Shinto ritual dance for the gods performed by shrine maidens.

KYOGEN: NEONGYOKU (“Singing in One’s Sleep”)

Comical theater performed by Yamamoto Noritoshi.

NOH: MOMIJIGARI (“Viewing Autumn Leaves”)

The shite, or lead role, is performed by Yamashina Yaemon, a Living National Treasure.

Synopsis: In the first scene, a beautiful lady of seemingly high rank is on an excursion to Togakushi-yama with a retinue of female attendants to see the fall colors. While they are enjoying a banquet, a warrior of the Taira clan who has been out deer-hunting approaches. He is Taira no Koremochi, played by the waki or secondary actor. Rather than disturb the party by riding past, he dismounts, intending to continue on his way. But the lady invites him to drink with her. Koremochi becomes intoxicated as the lady presses drinks upon him. Her dance increases in tempo. When he finally falls asleep, she leaves him in the forest, saying he should never wake from his dream.  In the second scene, a deity appears to Koremochi and reveals that the lady is a demon. The deity presents Koremochi with a divine sword and tells him to kill the demon. The lady returns, transformed into a fire-breathing demon.  After a pitched battle, Koremochi slays the demon with the sword.

To reserve a seat for this performance with a 500 yen discount including program and earphone rental (3,500 yen, payment at the door) sign up HERE:

Transportation: The closest station is Isehara on the Odawara Odakyu Line, about one hour from Shinjuku station by regular express trains (590 yen).  From the North Exit of Isehara Station, board a bus at bus stop #4 bound for Oyama Cable Car and alight at Shamukyoku- Iriguchi (社務局入口).  Fare is 310 yen, IC cards OK. The Noh stage is about 5 minutes walk from the bus stop. There will be extra buses back to Isehara station after the performance.

Link to Google Maps: Oyama Afuri Shrine Noh Stage

 

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Please help me tell this story: tattoo pilgrimage

Those of you who read my articles or follow my tours know I know how to tell a story about Japan. Now I need YOUR help to tell this story, about a tattooed group who have been making a pilgrimage to a holy mountain every year for well over a hundred years. Together, we can challenge stereotypes and tell an untold story about tattoos and pilgrimage in Japanese culture. I’ve been bringing small groups of foreign visitors to the mountain since 2015. You may have joined me to see Noh performed there by firelight.  If so, you know what a special place Oyama is.

This summer, my crew and I plan to follow a very special group of individuals as they carry on the long tradition of the Oyama pilgrimage. We have full local support and have gained unprecedented access to film inside the ancient Shinto shrine there. The only thing we still need is funds for production. Please take a look at our Kickstarter crowdfunding page — the photos alone are worth the click, believe me! Watch the trailer we’ve prepared.  And if you can, please make a pledge and support us on our journey.

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Event notice: tea ceremony, Sat. March 30

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The “Kōka” teahouse in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, an Important Cultural Property

Experience an authentic tea ceremony with English explanation in a historic teahouse within a beautiful Japanese garden. Saturday March 30, 2019 at 1:00 pm. Hosted by the Mushakōji Senke School of Tea at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, guided/interpreted by me.  Sign ups (in English) will begin Monday March 4, 2019 from 10 am on the museum’s English-language website.  Look for the notice it in the “programs” section.  (It’s not up yet as I write this so I can’t provide an exact link.)

Location: “Kōka” Teahouse, in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

Host: a tea master from the Chōsō group of the Mushakōji Senke School of Tea, one of the three historical households directly descended from the 16th century tea master Sen no Rikyū.

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The garden is beautiful in all seasons. It was recently restored, after a closure of several years.

Capacity:  20  (reservations will be closed as soon as a session reaches capacity). This will fill up quickly so if you’d like to attend, please don’t delay in signing up.

Fee: 1,000 yen per person for one session (includes a serving of “usucha” tea and a traditional sweet). You will also need to purchase regular museum admission (900 yen), which gives you access to the museum, the current exhibition and the gardens. You’ll be able to see the beautiful Art Deco house that is the museum’s main building and the current exhibition of surreal photo collages by Okanoue Toshiko.  Or you can buy just the  garden-only admission (200 yen).

teaceremony

Picture from an earlier tea ceremony event with English.  There is time to admire the utensils and ask questions, and photography is ok (before and after the ceremony).

 

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Tea ceremony for everyone! Workshops with English interpretation, Sat. Nov. 17

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The “Kōka” teahouse, an Important Cultural Property, is beautifully situated within the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.

Tea ceremony made approachable! Learn about the history and aesthetics of the Japanese tea ceremony, and how you can bring the tea ceremony into your own life. right now, without lessons or a teahouse or all the special utensils.  At the same time you can experience an authentic tea ceremony in a historic teahouse within a beautiful Japanese garden, just as the fall colors are beginning to turn.  Details and sign ups here on the museum website.

Location: “Kōka” Teahouse, in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

Hosts: tea masters from the Urasenke School of Tea, one of the three historical households directly descended from the 16th century tea master Sen no Rikyū. They are “the real deal” but their focus is on making tea ceremony something anyone can do. I’ll be there to provide English interpretation.

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The garden is beautiful in all seasons. It was recently restored, after a closure of several years.

Capacity:  15 people per session, for 2 sessions (one in the morning, one in the afternoon) for a total of 30 lucky folks.  (Reservations will be closed as soon as a session reaches capacity). Based on past experience, I expect both to fill up quickly so if you’d like to attend please don’t delay in signing up.)

Fee: 3,000 yen per person (includes a serving of “usucha” tea and a traditional sweet, and a beautiful tea whisk handmade in Kyoto to take with you so you can enjoy matcha tea at home. You will also need to purchase either garden admission (200 yen) or regular museum admission (1,200 yen), which gives you access to the museum, the current exhibition and the gardens. You’ll be able to see all the splendor that is the former Prince Asaka Residence as well as the current exhibition about exoticism in Art Deco.

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I attended a version of this workshop  in October so I’d be able to interpret.  I really enjoyed it and thought it worthwhile. It gave me ideas about how I can bring tea-ceremony aesthetics into my own life, at home.

Ebisawa

The mood is casual. Photography is allowed and questions encouraged. You don’t have to sit on your knees — everyone is invited to sit cross-legged or with their legs to the side, and to stand up and stretch if needed.

Now that it’s been de-mystified, you can be sure I’ll be whisking up my own matcha at home now. Everyone gets a tea whisk, handmade in Kyoto, to take home.

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I am happy to have a tea whisk of my very own. Now that it’s all been de-mystified, you can be sure I’ll be whisking up my own matcha at home now.

 

 

 

 

 

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NEW! Museum Tour in English: Botanical themes in Imari Ware at the Toguri Museum of Art

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Chrysanthemum-shaped dishes, decorated with octopus arabesque and poem design in underglaze blue. Imari ware. Edo period. 19th century.

On Monday Sept. 10, from 10 to 11:30 am, I will give a special tour in English at the Toguri Museum of Art, which is located near Shibuya Station in Tokyo.  I’ll be guiding the group  through the current exhibition of flower and plant themes in Imari ware, giving special focus to the auspicious meanings behind these traditional motifs.  Life in Japan is so much more fun when you understand the hidden messages in designs! Once you know to look for them, you’ll see them again and again in your daily life.

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Bottle, decorated with wisteria design in overglaze enamels. Imari ware. Edo period. Mid-17th century.

If you’ve been on my museum tours before, you know they are lively and informal. I try to keep keep things accessible for total beginners while offering new information and insights for those who may be already deep into the subject matter.  This is a completely private event, so we’ll have the museum all to ourselves. Plenty of opportunity to ask questions and explore the exhibition.

The cost of 3,000 yen per person includes museum admission, the guided tour, a mini-lecture by the curator (interpreted into English by me) PLUS a pair of tickets for free admission for two on your next visit (a 2,000 yen value), so you can bring a friend or family member to share what you learned. Or save it for the next exhibition, which opens on Oct. 5. As part of this event, we’ll also have a chance to see one special work that is not normally on display, and while photography is normally not allowed in the museum, our group will have special permission to take pictures. You are welcome to  make photographs for future reference or to post on social media.

Number of people:  30  (reservations will be closed as soon as we reach capacity). Based on past experience, this will fill up quickly so if you’d like to attend, please don’t delay in signing up. This is the only event in English that will be held at this museum this year.  All in all, this is a wonderful opportunity the museum is affording us, and a nice way to learn more about Japan and Japanese antique dishes.  And everyone loves plants and flowers, right?

You can sign up right here, on the form below.

 

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Event notice: tea ceremony, Sat. March 30

interior

The “Kōka” teahouse in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, an Important Cultural Property

Experience an authentic tea ceremony with English explanation in a historic teahouse within a beautiful Japanese garden. Saturday March 30 at 1:00 pm. Hosted by the Mushakōji Senke School of Tea, interpreted by me.  Sign ups (in English) will begin Monday March 4 from about 10 am on the museum’s English-language website.  Look for the notice it in the “programs” section.  (It’s not up yet as I write this so I can’t provide an exact link.)

Location: “Kōka” Teahouse, in the garden of the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

Host: a tea master from the Chōsō group of the Mushakōji Senke School of Tea, one of the three historical households directly descended from the 16th century tea master Sen no Rikyū.

teien.jpg

The garden is beautiful in all seasons. It was recently restored, after a closure of several years.

Capacity:  20  (reservations will be closed as soon as a session reaches capacity). This will fill up quickly so if you’d like to attend, please don’t delay in signing up.

Fee: 1,000 yen per person for one session (includes a serving of “usucha” tea and a traditional sweet). You will also need to purchase regular museum admission (900 yen), which gives you access to the museum, the current exhibition and the gardens. You’ll be able to see the beautiful Art Deco house that is the museum’s main building and the current exhibition of surreal photo collages by Okanoue Toshiko.  Or you can buy just the  garden-only admission (200 yen).

teaceremony

Picture from an earlier tea ceremony event with English.  There is time to admire the utensils and ask questions, and photography is ok (before and after the ceremony).

 

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Museum tour in English: Yokoyama Taikan at the Yamatane Museum of Art (Feb. 9)

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Yokoyama Taikan Divine Spirit: Mt. Fuji (1952), Yamatane Museum of Art

Update, Feb. 5: due to cancellations, we have space for just a few people.  I will give a tour at  the Yamatane Museum of Art in Tokyo on Friday Feb. 9 at 10:30 am, guiding visitors through the  exhibition Yokoyama Taikan — The Elite of the Tokyo Art World. The tour is by reservation only, will last about an hour and is free with regular museum admission (1,000 yen for adults).

 

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Yokoyama Taikan, Spring Morning (c. 1939), Yamatane Museum of Art

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Japan through top-class works of art.  Yokoyama Taikan (1868-1958) was one of the most influential Japanese painters of the 20th century, known particularly for his many stunning images of Mt. Fuji. To mark the 150th anniversary of his birth,the museum is putting their entire collection of Taikan paintings on view, a total of 40 works acquired by the museum’s founder over the course of a long friendship with the artist. This is the first time in the museum’s history that all their Taikan holdings will be displayed at once.

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Yokoyama Taikan, Horned Owl (1926), Yamatane Museum of Art

We’ll also see works by others who worked closely with Taikan to forge new directions in Nihonga (Japanese-style painting), including Hishida Shunsō (1874-1911) and  Shimomura Kanzan (1973-1930), as well as other painters among the Tokyo art elite, such as Kobayashi Kokei  (1883–1957) and Higashiyama Kaii (1908-1999).

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Kobayashi Kokei, Oxen (1943), Yamatane Museum of Art

If you’ve been on my museum tours before, you know they are lively and informal. I try to keep keep things accessible for total beginners while offering new information and insights for those who may be already deep into the subject matter. The tour is during regular museum hours, so we’ll be using headsets connected wirelessly to my microphone. This should allow everyone to hear well without our talk disturbing other visitors.

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Higashiyama Kaii, End of the Year (1968), Yamatane Museum of Art

This tour is limited to 25 people (the number of headsets available). I expect this to fill up quickly, so please do sign up here:

The Yamatane Museum of Art is located at 3-12-36 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, and is about a 10 minute walk from Ebisu Station (use the West Exit if you’re coming on JR; Exit 2 if you’re coming on the Hibiya subway line). There is a map and directions on the museum’s website or use this link to Google Maps.

 

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