Noh master returns to UPD

Umewaka Yasunori, Noh master of the Kanze School, has returned to UP Diliman (UPD) to conduct another round of training for the UPD Center for International Studies (CIS) Noh Ensemble and students of the Japanese Traditional Performance Practice (JTPP). Known as Chozaemon Sensei, Umewaka last visited UPD in November 2022.

Umewaka is Japan’s Important Intangible Culture Property Holder in Noh Theater.

(From left) Umali, Matsuda, Guillermo, Vistan, Umewaka and wife Keiko, and Zayas. Photo from the CIS

Umewaka, with his wife Keiko, and Director Shigehiro Matsuda and Jaleni Uy Chua of the Japan Information and Culture Center, paid a courtesy call to UPD Chancellor Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II on Dec. 4 to discuss a possible staging of a Noh play, with the participation of the CIS Noh Ensemble. This is in commemoration of the 70 years of friendship between the Philippines and Japan in 2026. They were accompanied at the Office of the Chancellor by CIS Director Ramon Guillermo, CIS Coordinator of East and Southeast Asian Studies Amparo Adelina C. Umali III, and former CIS director Cynthia Neri Zayas.

Meanwhile, students of the JTPP, assisted by the CIS Noh Ensemble, held a class recital on Dec. 5 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the GT Toyota Asian Center auditorium. The performance, co-hosted by the UPD Asian Center, was free and open to the public.

Recital poster. Image from the CIS

Their repertoire included the machiutai (waiting song) from Takasago, a celebratory song performed in Japanese wedding receptions and celebrations of long life, and the Chu no Mai, a gentle medium tempo dance.

The machiutai was accompanied by a kotsuzumi (small drum) and otsuzumi (big drum), while the Chu no Mai was performed by the shite, a main actor who plays beautiful women or crazed women and angels in various works.

Two Noh-kan (Noh flute) provided the accompaniment for the Chu no Mai.

Umewaka performed the kiri (finale) dance from Hagoromo (The Celestial Robe of Feather), a popular Noh play about a beautiful celestial maiden who came down to earth to bathe. The CIS Noh Ensemble provided the chant accompaniment.

Umewaka’s UPD visit was through the funding support of the Japan Foundation Manila.—With a report from the CIS