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The  No  Plays  of  Japan 

translated  by  Arthur  Waley 


The  No  Plays  of  Japan 


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translated  by  Arthur  Waley 


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Noh  (No) — derived  from  the  Sino-Japanese  word  for  "skill"  or  "talent" — is  a form  of 
classical  Japanese  musical  drama  that  has  been  performed  since  the  14th  century. 
Developed  by  Kan'ami  and  his  son,  it  is  the  oldest  major  theatre  art  still  regularly 
performed  today.  Traditionally,  a Noh  program  includes  five  Noh  plays  with  comedic 
kyogen  plays  in  between,  but  an  abbreviated  program  of  two  Noh  and  one  kyogen  has 
become  common.  Noh  is  often  based  on  tales  from  traditional  literature  with  a 
supernatural  being  transformed  into  human  form  as  a hero  narrating  a story.  Noh 
integrates  masks,  costumes  and  various  props  in  a dance-based  performance, 
requiring  highly  trained  actors  and  musicians.  Emotions  are  primarily  conveyed  by 
stylized  gestures  while  the  masks  represent  the  roles  such  as  ghosts,  women, 
children,  and  old  people.  Written  in  ancient  Japanese,  the  text  "vividly  describes  the 
ordinary  people  of  the  twelfth  to  sixteenth  centuries." 

These  translations  are  done  by  renowned  scholar  Arthur  Waley,  who  is  often  regarded 
as  the  most  important  transmitter  of  East  Asian  culture  to  the  West  in  history. 


Read  for  Librivox.org  by  Expatriate 

Total  running  time  5:49:08 

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Cover  image:  Depiction  of  No,  Edo  period,  probably  18th  century. 
Cover  designed  by  Availle.This  design  is  in  the  public  domain. 


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