Each November there is a performance of a Noh play on an outdoor stage that is on the grounds of Chusonji, at Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture. This image is of the performance in the fall, 2000. -- The two stage props seen here are unusual in their elaborateness; noh stages are usually totally bare of props or, if there is a prop, it usually is simpler than is the case here. The several musicians used in noh , e.g., stick drummer, hand drummers, traverse flute player, are along the rear wall of the stage. Out of the photo, on the right, along the edge of the stage, are the members of the chorus who narrate the play. Noh drama, itself, in its form, in its lack of scenery, use of masks for the main actor in most plays, etc., reflects the austere suggestion, the minimalism of Ashikaga aesthetics. The brilliant robe of the shite , the main actor, reflects the addition of a decorative element, probably from the Momoyama period. The painting of the pine on the rear wall of the stage (and bamboo above the musicians' "coming in door" on the right) is a convention found on every noh stage -- it is said that the pine derives from the great pine tree at the Kasuga Shrine, Nara.
In the last half of the 17th c., Basho, the great master of the haiku form, wrote "On the withered bough/ A crow has alighted/ Nightfall in autumn." -- In this photo, captured on a chilly, damp autumn evening in northern Honshu, we can sense the spirit of Basho's poem translated into the 21st century. -- keywords: aesthetics, poetry, literature, haiku, Basho
Up a small rise within the compound of Chusonji temple, at Hiraizumi, is this small Shinto shrine, set into the woods. It is very common in Japan to find small Shinto shrines within the grounds of Buddhist temples (e.g., there is a small Shinto shrine on the island in the garden pond at Ryoanji, a Rinzai Zen temple in Kyoto). Shinto and Buddhism are not mutually exclusive in Japanese culture and it is probably true that most Japanese would regard themselves as being both Shinto and Buddhist. -- see also: images of garden, Ryoanji; images in Colorado College Japanese Religion Collection
These dancers are performing a traditional folk dance, a deer dance, during a fall festival at Chusonji, in Hiraizumi