Noh play with “omote” (mask) 2014/9/25

The other night I went to National Noh Theater to watch Noh play entitled “ Zegai” which is the story about the goblin with a long nose.

The goblin came from China to Japan to obstruct Buddhism prevailing among Japanese people. Priests fight against the goblin with the sacred power from Buddhism and finally expell the goblin from Japan.


“shite” (main actor of Noh play) played the goblin by wearing the special mask with a long nose.

It is the Noh rule for “ shite” to wear a mask when he plays a fictional character or a dead person.

There are wide ranges of masks such as the aged, man, woman, ghost, goblin and so on. Since a mask is the most important property of Noh play, they call it as “omote” which means surface or the right side.


“ omote” does neither move nor change, however well designed “ omote” can produce various touchy feelings by lighting. Splendid harmony between “shite” and “ omote” is able to give deeper impression on inspectors than human real face.


They consider each “ omote” decides the quality of the particular Noh play, therefore it is crucial job for a “ shite” player to pick up the right one for the particular play among wide ranges of “ omote”.

Since they consider “ omote” as the most important property, they take care of  “ omote” so cautiously that there are many old  “ omote” remained unspoiled, and some of them are as old as 500 years.