Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 14
December 11, 2012 (Tue) - January 27, 2013 (Sun)
Kyogen theater, which was popular during medieval times, amuses its audience using comical phrases in tales connected to ordinary lives. Humorous gestures and caricatures of the "distinguished" nobility and priests, in addition to rhymes and puns, are some of the comic elements in Kyogen. In the Muromachi period, Kyogen performances were improvised according to rough plots without detailed scripts. Over time, this lively theatrical art was favored among the people, regardless of social status.
Eventually Kyogen became sophisticated, with less elements that satirized the times. Nevertheless, the tales and humor are easily understandable for people today. This is the allure of Kyogen, which has preserved living traditions from the medieval times while continuing as a comic performing art.
Masks used in Kyogen amuse us along with the plays, by their forms full of humor. Each type of mask, such as Oji, Usobuki, and Oto, has unique facial features, with more liberal portrayals than those of Noh masks. Many of the characters in Kyogen are played without masks, and varieties of Kyogen masks are relatively small with around 20 types. A highlight of these masks, however, is that they display different expressions within their types.
We hope visitors share the relaxed humor of medieval Japanese people from the masks, and enjoy their next experience at the Kyogen theater.