“Funa Benkei (Benkei in a boat)”, a well-known Noh play, filmed at Kita Noh Theatre as visual artwork will be distributed online with English subtitles and commentary. Cameras installed on the Noh stage to film each scene make dynamic experience which is very different from the usual audience view. A special bilingual webpage of “Noh Online: Funa Benkei” will be opened on the official website to introduce the story, the characters and such in an easy-to-understand manner for first-time overseas viewers to render the appreciation of Noh play.
*Contents are subject to change without notice.
Noh “Funa Benkei” Shinnoden
Takehito Tomoeda, Kinya Hosyo, Mansai Nomura, others
From Friday, January 29 to Wednesday, March 31, 2021 (scheduled)
Available to view in any of the following. The streaming has ended.
Arts Council Tokyo Official YouTube Channel
Noh Online: Funa Benkei Special Webpage
It was the end of the Heian period. The long-running war between Genji and Heike clans was won by the renowned general of Genji, Minamoto no Yoshitsune. He, however, fell out with his elder brother Yoritomo and was forced to leave the capital, fleeing to the west only with his retainer Musashibo Benkei, his lover Shizuka Gozen, and a few companions. It is a lonely wandering journey that is a far cry from the splendor of winning a historic battle.
The highlight of the first half is Shizuka Gozen’s dance. Shizuka, who has finally accepted Benkei’s advice that she should return to the capital, chants and dances, hoping for Yoshitsune’s safety and the day when he will come back to the front stage again.
In the latter half of the scene, the group goes out to sea, but the wind and rain are getting fiercer, and the atmosphere around them is unsettling. Then, the ghosts of the Heike clan appears in the sea. The commander-in-chief is Tairano Tomomori, who committed suicide bearing a grudge in the last battle with Yoshitune. The spirits attacked Yoshitsune’s boat at once to sink it into the sea. In order to save his master, Benkei confronts the ghosts with the mythical power of Buddhism.
Tokyo Tradition Office, Arts Council Tokyo