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[Re-posting] Noh Online: Funa Benkei, Legendary Hero, Riding the Wave from Tokyo to the World

Genre:
  • Japanese Traditional Art
[Re-posting] From Wednesday, December 1 2021, to Thursday, March 31 2022
Redistribution of Noh play with English subtitles which were released for limited time from January 2021 and very well-received by audiences of the both in Japan and overseas.

“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.

Performers

[Shite] Takehito Tomoeda
[Tsure] Yutaro Tomoeda
[Waki] Kinya Hosyo
[Waki-tsure] Hideshi Norihisa, Seigo Mikuriya
[Ai] Mansai Nomura
[Chorus] Sadamu Omura, Keiichiro Kaneko, Shigenobu Uchida, Shinya Tomoeda, Tomonori Tani
[Stage Assistants] Kunio Nakamura, Hiroyasu Sato
[Flute] Yusuke Kuribayashi
[Shoulder Drum] Yuji Morisawa
[Drum] Keinosuke Okura
[Stick Drum] Yuichiro Hayashi

Main character

Photo: Satoshi Ohtsuki
Shizuka Gozen: Takehito Tomoeda
[Mae-shite, with a young female mask]
Yoshitune’s lover. Dancer. She had accompanied Yoshitsune on his escape, but Benkei and Yoshitsune persuaded her to return to the capital when they went into to the dangerous sea route.

(c) YAMADA Miyuki
Taira no Tomomori: Takehito Tomoeda
[Nochi-shite, with ghost’s mask]
A warlord of the Heike clan. In the final naval battle between the Heike and Genji clans, he was defeated by the Genji army led by Yoshitsune, and committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea. After his death, he becomes a grudge-holding ghost and tries to kill Yoshitsune’s group while they are escaping on a boat.

(c) YAMADA Miyuki
Minamoto no Yoshitsune: Yutaro Tomoeda
[Tsure]
A warlord of the Genji clan. He helped his brother Yoritomo to destroy the rival Heike clan. However, he later fell out with Yoritomo and was forced to leave the capital. He is one of the most popular historical figures in Japan.

(c) YAMADA Miyuki
Musashibo Benkei: Kinya Hosyo
[Waki]
A powerful monk and retainer of Yoshitsune. He is said to have fought a duel with the young Yoshitsune in Kyoto and lost, after which he became Yoshitsune’s loyal retainer. In this “Funa Benkei (Benkei in a boat)”, he confronts the attacking Tomomori with the power of the pray of Buddhism to protect his master.

(c) YAMADA Miyuki
Boatman: Mansai Nomura
[Ai-Kyogen]
An acquaintance of Benkei and helps Yoshitsune’s group escape by sea.

Story

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.

Highlights

  • Chant and Dance by saddened Shizuka Gozen on Yoshitsune’s departure (0:25:00 – 0:45:00)
  • The boatman earnestly rowing a boat for fleeing Yoshitsune and Benkei (0:54:00 – 1:02:56)
  • Attack by Taira no Tomomori the ghost, Yoshitune and Benkei who confront him (1:03:55 – 1:13:25)

Online distribution

[Re-posting] From Wednesday, December 1 2021, to Thursday, March 31 2022
From Friday, January 29 to Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How to view

Arts Council Tokyo Official YouTube Channel

Fee

Free

Making-of footage

Noh Online: Funa Benkei The making of video 1 Behind the scene

Noh Online: Funa Benkei The making of video 2 Interview Comment

Contact

Project Division, Project Department, Arts Council Tokyo
Tel: 03-6256-8434

Credit

Organized by
Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
Supported by and in cooperation with
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Produced by
Roppeita XIV Commemorative Foundation
Filmed by
Teku-Teku Eizo Design Inc.
English subtitles, translated by
Sam Bett