The Japan-India Traditional Performing Arts Exchange Project 2004

Noh and Kutiyattam – “Treasures of World Cultural Heritage”

The First meeting of artists in Kerala

The First Ever Performance of Noh in Kerala

The Fourth Performance of Kamigata-mai

Sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, The Japan Foundation and the Government of the State of Kerala.

Supported by the Embassy of India in Japan and the Indo-Japanese Association




December 26, 2004 – January 4, 2005

Kuthambalam in Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

[Noh] [Kutiyattam] [Kamigata-mai]

Rangaprabhat Children’s Theatre, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) [Kamigata-Mai]

Kerala Kalamandalam Cheruturuthy [Kamigata-Mai]


Noh (Japan) and Kutiyattam (India) have been declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by the UNESCO in 2001.

The Japan-India Traditional Arts Exchange Project 2004 therefore initiates the first meeting of actors of these art forms as well as the first ever performance of Noh in Kerala while continuing the presentation of the traditional Japanese solo dance form ‘kamigata-mai’ with a fourth performance.

Basic Schedule 

The First Meeting of Noh and Kutiyattam Actors in Kerala – Kutiyattam performance




Meeting with Kutiyattam artists from Natana Kairali und Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam, Irinjalakuda, Kerala




Reception to the Japanese delegation of Noh & Kamigata-mai group (special invitees)




Kutiyattam: Lecture-demonstration 




Lunch break




Kutiyattam performance: “Vikramorvaseeyam” by Kalidas



Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

Noh Performance





Inauguration of the Japanese program by the Minister of Tourism and Devasoms




Noh: Lecture-demonstration 




Noh performance: “Hagoromo” by Zeami




Interaction with Noh artists




Lunch break




Farewell to the Noh artists



Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)


Kamigata-mai Performances





Kamigata-mai: Lecture-demonstration 




Kamigata-mai performance: [YASHIMA] “Yashima” – [YUKI] “Snow”



Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

Kamigata-mai Workshop




Inauguration - Workshop








Workshop - Performance







Rangaprabhat Children’s Theatre, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

One of the pieces in the former (3rd) performance of Kamigata-mai in Kerala was “The Marriage Procession of the Foxes.” In Japan, when it starts raining while the sun is still shining, people say that the foxes must be having a marriage procession. We learned that the same thing is also said in India. In this workshop, we will produce a translation of the text of “The Marriage Procession of the Foxes” in the Malayalam language; then we will create a new dance for children that incorporates some of the methods of Kamigata-mai. At the end of the workshop, the children will perform this new work.





Kamigata-mai performance:



Not yet decided [Thrissur or Ernakulam district]




Kamigata-mai: Lecture-demonstration 




Kamigata-mai performance:



Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruturuthy, tentative [Thrissur]

Cast & Staff Lists

Noh:Hagoromo(The Feather Robe)



Shite (Celestial Maiden)

Norinaga Umewaka


Waki (Fisherman)

Dai Murase


Jiutai (Chorus)

Haruhiko Hasegawa, Tatsuya Hatta, Yoshiaki Ito, Shingo Kato (leader),

Tomoya Komuro, Masahiro Nakamura, Osamu Toda, Hisaki Umewaka


Koken (Stage Assistants)

Ken’ichi Aoki, Yasushi Umewaka

Hayashi-kata (Musicians)


Kotsuzumi(Shoulder drum)

Kensaku Araki


Ohtsuzumi (Hip drum)

Eitaro Okura


Taiko (Stick drum)

Hideki Kajitani


Fue (Japanese Flute)

Yusuke Kuribayashi



Stage Manager

Keiji Osakabe



Stephen Comee

Kutiyattam: “Vikramorvasheeyam” by Mahakavi Kalidas, directed and choreographed by G. Venu




Ammanur Rajaneesh Chakyar



Soraj Nambiar



Kapila Nangiar



Kalamandalam Rajeev



Kalamandalam Hariharan



Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambiar



Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan



Nirmala Panicker



Aparna Nangiar



Kalanilayam Haridas



Natana Kairali and Ammanur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulum

Kamigata-mai: JiutaYASHIMA”(Yashima), Jiuta YUKI” (Snow)




Kei’in Yoshimura



Masae Yoshizawa



So Sugiura



Yukitoshi Morishige




Yasuko Tomita



Mikio Shimamura


Stage technicians

Kinji Dogu, Eiichi Horibata


Business manager

Masahiko Kunihiro

Produced by Kamigatamaitomonokai, Tokyo.JAPAN

Coordinated by Ravi Gopalan NAIR, KERALA, INDIA



The 1st Noh Performance in Kerala

About Noh Drama

Noh is a classical Japanese performance art that combines elements of dance, drama, music, and poetry into one highly aesthetic stage art. Refined into the aesthetic art we know in the 14th and 15th centuries, it is performed throughout the country by professional artists, who have passed down the art among family members for numerous generations. The Umewaka Kennokai troupe is one such group, and it boasts a 700-year lineage of actors from ancient times. The main actor of this performance, Norinaga Umewaka, is the eldest son of the current head of the troupe, Manzaburo Umewaka III.

Synopsis of the Play

Noh: Hagoromo (“The Feather Robe”)    

Once upon a time, a fisherman named Hakuryo found a beautiful feather robe (hagoromo) hanging on a pine tree along a beach near Mt. Fuji. When he took it and was about to take it home as a family treasure, a heavenly maiden appeared. Saying it was hers, she asked him to return it to her, explaining that she was unable to fly back to heaven without it. Hakuryo refused, and the heavenly maiden cried out in despair. Finally, the fisherman said, "I'll return it to you if you show me the celestial dance of the heavenly maidens." She agreed, and after he returned the robe to her, she performed the dance of the heavenly maidens and then flew back to heaven.

     The piece beautifully portrays the dilemma of the heavenly maiden. When the fisherman says that if he gives the robe back, she will fly back to heaven without dancing for him, she softly replies that deceit is unknown in heaven, and only exists in the hearts of men. As performed by Noh master Umewaka, the Dance of the Heavenly Maidens is so beautifully portrayed that one feels as though an angel is actually dancing upon the stage.



About Kutiyattam

Kutiyattam is the oldest surviving Sansktir theatre tradition of India. This unique art form of Kerala has a highly stylized and complex theatre language replete with traditional hand gestures and facial expressions.

Synopsis of the Play

KUTIYATTAM: Vikromorvasheeyam

The celestial dancer, Urvashi and her friend Chitralekha are kidnapped by the demon, Kesi. King Puruvas saves them and Urvashi falls in love with him. Soon after, while performing for the Gods, Urvashi utters her lover’s name instead of ‘Vishnu’. Enraged, Sage Bharatha curses her that she no longer can stay on in Heaven.

The performance ends with the king yearning for Urvashi and finaly meeting her.

The 4th Kamigata-mai Performance

About Kamigata-mai

Drawing on 12th-century traditions established by courtesan dancers and singers at banquets in Kyoto, and based on the dancing traditions of Noh, Kabuki, and the Bunraku puppet theatre, Kamigata-mai was born and developed in the 16th century in the Kamigata area of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Kamigata-mai is also called jiuta-mai, because it is performed to the accompaniment of jiuta (popular song sung by the Kamigata people), the oldest form of shamisen music.

     While Noh, Kyogen, and Bunraku are performed by males, Kamigata-mai was developed mainly as a chamber art and was performed by courtesans in small rooms to entertain special guests. As a chamber art, Kamigata-mai exhibits a sharp contrast to world-famous Kabuki dances, which are put on in large theatres to the accompaniment of nagauta orchestral music.

     Whereas Kabuki dances are more animated, vigorous and sometimes even boisterous, Kamigata-mai is performed in a subdued, tranquil, and more dignified way, giving major importance to the external expression of one’s innermost sentiments.

Synopses of the Dances

Jiuta YASHIMA” (Yashima)        (about 15 min)

The dance is based upon the Noh play also titled Yashima. In it a single dancer tries to capture the essence of the ancient battle that took place at Yashima.
One spring day, a traveling priest visits the site of the old battle at Yashima located next to a beautiful beach with the crystal blue sea on one side and rising mountains on the other. It was here that the Heike and Genji clans fought for supremacy.
The story unfolds with the priest meeting the ghost of the Genji general, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who recounts his battles with the enemy warriors. All through the night, he narrates of his great courage and bravery in the battle and his finally victory over his foes, and as the day dawns the ghost fades away.
Among Kamigata-mai, it is one of the most strenuous and active dance performances.

Jiuta YUKI” (Snow)        (about 20 min.)

Yuki is one of the most popular jiuta dances.
It depicts the tranquil mind of a nun and her sad psyche before becoming a nun.
The text tells the story of a Buddhist nun who has lived in a nunnery, apart from the world, ever since she was disappointed being in love while she was a young courtesan.
The piece beautifully depicts the serenity of the mind of the woman, as the tolling of a temple bell in the snow reminds her of her past sorrows.
The instrumental interlude (ai-no-te) is used here to express the quiet tolling of a distant temple bell on a snowy evening and has become so popular that its melancholic melody is often used in other dances as a kind of theme to suggest a snowy scene or the call for a cold, dark atmosphere.


Tokyo, November 29, 2004





noh theatre

"Hagoromo" - noh play text