Research on Documentary Source Materials

The activities of the Noh Theatre Research Institute center on research on Japan's traditional Noh theatre. By means of collecting and organizing related research materials, and making them available for public inspection, it functions as a center for scholarly research in this field.

The Institute houses an extensive collection of source materials dating from fifteenth century to the present, which serve as valuable reference sources for surveys and research. The collection includes manuscripts from the Muromachi period (1392–1568), manuscripts and printed sources from the Edo period (1603–1868), books, journals and catalogues published after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, paintings and other pictorial materials, as well as research literature in English and other foreign languages. Particularly valuable materials include a Kurumaya utaibon set dating from the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1603) from the former collection of NOGAMI Toyoichirō, the Den-Kojirō Nobumitsu utaibon set formerly owned by the Date family of Sendai, the Horiike utaibon set, and the Tenshō kyōgenbon, the oldest surviving collection of Kyōgen storylines.
The Institute's collection also includes many valuable source materials that became part of the collection as the result of generous gifts and donations. Many of these are stored as independent collections with individual names, such as Kōzan Bunko, Hannyakutsu Bunko, and Kanze Shinkurō-ke Bunko. See here for more information (in Japanese) on these independent collections. In addition to undertaking surveys and preparing catalogs of its own collection and independent collections held separately in the Institute, continuing efforts are being made to survey and photograph materials held in public and private collections throughout the country. Photographic reproductions of important materials obtained in this way can be viewed at the Institute's reading room, just like other materials in the Institute's own collection.

The Globalization of Noh Theatre Studies

The Noh Theatre Research Institute aims to make Noh theatre research truly international, utilizing the foundations for world-class research and the rich person-to-person network it has developed in recent years, to provide opportunities for researchers both within Japan and overseas to share the results of their latest research and explore new possibilities in a broad range of approaches.

The Institute's 'Shosagaku' Project

In cooperation with the System Design department of the university's Graduate School of Art and Technology, the Noh Theatre Research Institute has begun work in a new interdisciplinary field that we call 'Shosagaku.' The word shosa refers to the stylized movement of the Noh theatre, and this project seeks to analyze this movement scientifically, in order to clarify its logic, suitability, and aesthetics. If it is possible to produce an objective account of what forms the core of shosa, or in other words the reality of phenomena traditionally referred to with expressions like yūgen and hana, this should prove extremely valuable in education and research in the classical performing arts. It may also be possible to apply the principles of Noh's bodily movement in other of the world's performing arts, perhaps leading to a stronger global appreciation of this typically "Japanese" aesthetic.

The Institute has undertaken research on the translation of yōkyoku, the libretti of Noh plays, and has prepared a database of English translations of specialist terminology used by Zeami in his theoretical works, or nōgakuron. It has also hosted symposiums and public seminars led by world-class Noh theatre researchers invited from abroad. In doing this, we are endeavoring to establish a common foundation for constructive and equal dialog by helping Japanese researchers gain an understanding of the approaches and methodologies that distinguish research by foreign scholars from styles of research commonly employed in Japan.
The Institute is also working in full collaboration with the GloPAC (Global Performing Arts Consortium) project led by Cornell University, with a view to constructing a system for the global sharing of Noh-related materials and research findings.