…words should hold interest; the melody should be attractive; points of concentrated interest should be enacted with strong visual appeal.
When all these elements come together at once,
the entire audience is enchanted.

Why Noh and Intermedia

Six centuries ago, the co-creator and great playwright and theorist of Noh Theater, Zeami, linked the plays' success to the cultivation and the 'coming together' of text, visuals and music. Today, the expressive interaction of these three layers might be called intermedia. Whereas the individual artistic elements of Noh have been studied extensively, the interactions between them are relatively underdiscussed. This project is intended to contribute to the understanding and appreciation of Noh by offering in-depth intermedia analysis of two plays, introductions to elements of Noh, and a general discussion about Noh as intermedia.

The authors wish to express deepest gratitude to our collaborators and most importantly to the Kongō School of Noh for partnering with the project.


These pages feature complete recordings and the in-depth intermedia analysis of two contrasting plays.


Third category, Woman or “Wig” play, Hashitomi, enfolds the viewers in in the tender dream-like world of the female protagonist, a spirit of young Lady Yūgao, who appears as a flower and reminisces about her romantic encounter with Prince Genji.


Fifth category, Final or Demon play, Kokaji, features two male characters—the swordsmith Munechika and a powerful deity from the Inari Shrine—who work together to produce a mighty blade for the Emperor Ichijō.


The following pages offer introductions to the formal design of Noh, and the building blocks of individual media layers.


Summarizes the classical formal design and explains its modular (shōdan) construction.


Lists the categories of actors and their roles in Noh.


Includes information about vocal styles, instrumental sounds, rhythmic organization and a catalog of nohkan patterns.


Introduces principal dance forms, and analyzes shimai dances from Hashitomi and Kokaji.


Introduces categories of text and presents libretti from Hashitomi and Kokaji in Romaji transliteration and English translation.


Discusses the use of the Noh stage, masks, costumes and properties.

This website was developed in cooperation with the Japanese Performing Arts Research Consortium. We would like to invite our readers to visit also an affiliated website 'Nōgaku.'