Theatre Noh - Minoru Umewaka and Genjiro Okura

Wednesday 9 October 2019 - Auditorium

8.30 p.m.
Theatre Noh - Minoru Umewaka and Genjiro Okura


In 1940, Charlotte Perriand discovered Japan, and her career would forever be influenced by her love of this country. In conjunction with the exhibition “Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World”, the Fondation is inviting visitors to immerse themselves in this civilisation that inspired Perriand, through one of the country’s great cultural traditions: Noh theatre. 


On Wednesday 9 October 2019, Minoru Umewaka and Genjirô Okura, leading figures and ambassadors of Noh, and their guests will come to the Auditorium of the Fondation for a public masterclasse in the morning and a concert of Noh - small percussion, drum, voice and flute - in the evening. 


Noh is a representative traditional performing art of Japan. Noh has been handed down to the present for about 650 years since it was created by Kanami and Zeami at Muromachi period (1336-1573). In 2008, it was recognized as a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is composed of Utai (Chorus), Hayashi (Musical instruments), and Mai (Noh dance), are theatrical performance as well as masked play. It is said to be a performing art that has the highest simplicity, without any stage equipment used, but only with a background of pine on the end panel. Expand your imagination and please enjoy the mysterious and extraordinary world of Noh played exactly in the same way as it was played 650 years ago.

Among the Noh theatre pieces that will be presented at the Fondation is the legend of Hagoromo, which encapsulates the poetry of Noh :


One spring morning, a fisherman finds on a river bank a gown made from feathers, hanging on a pine branch. When he attempts to take it home, a celestial maiden appears and asks him to return the gown, as without it she cannot return to the heavens. The fisherman agrees, on condition that she performs a celestial dance. While singers exalt the beauty of the pine grove in spring, the nymph dances, before disappearing into the mist beyond Mount Fuji. 

the Artists

Minoru Umewaka


Minoru IV Gensho Umewaka is one of the greatest, and one of the most daring, representative of Noh theatre today. His innovative vision has revitalized the classical art of Noh. Born in 1948, Rokuro Gensho started his first appearance on the stage at the age of 3. Since then, not satisfied with having mastered the traditional repertory in his career, MinoruIV Gensho has gone on the revive ancient Noh plays, stage entirely new ones, and bring this 600‐years‐old art to wider audiences not only inside Japan but outside.

Minoru IV Gensho is the 56thhead of the Umewaka family since 1988, a clan whose involvement in the stage arts has continued without interruption for over 1000 years.


Since MinoruIV Gensho’s great‐grandfather, Minoru I, who was instrumental in saving Noh from ruin in the early days of Japan’s modernization and who introduced Noh to Westerners in the mid-19thcentury, each generation of the Umewaka clan has given birth to actors of the very highest rank. From Minoru I, Minoru IV.


Gensho acquired a dramatic flair and sense of rhythm and timing that takes hold of viewers from the moment he steps onto the stage. Of equal importance, His grand-father, Minoru II, transmitted fluid elegance that has imbued MinoruIV Gensho’s movements with a powerful lightness and grace. In addition to those qualities, his rich voice and superb skill as a dancer, and one understands why Minoru IV Gensho has attained such celebrity.


From his youth, Minoru IV Gensho has shown willingness to experiment with the new as well as rethink the foundations of the Noh. For those reasons he has awarded several major prizes not only for acting and dancing, but also for researching and directing new plays and revivals for last 25 years.


In recent years, MinoruIV Gensho has taken the lead in developing a series of innovative works that incorporate non-traditional sets and instruments and focus on the themes of love and religion. Those so-called modern Noh plays have been performed successfully in intimate Noh theaters as well as in public halls seating audiences of 2500 or more.


His first experience abroad was to direct the Noh performances at the Europalia Festival in Belgium in 1989. It was when the Dojyoji, the classical master piece, wasfirst introduced in Europe. Complementing the great success of those performances was the “Noh no Hana” exhibition at Europalia, one of the most extensive exhibition of the Noh masks and costumes outside Japan. Since then, he had experienced a series of overseas tours, including four to New York. The tours include Holland, Belgium , France, Russia, USA, Taiwan, Greece.


Minoru IV Gensho is convinced that the greatest period of Noh theater is still ahead.


He is committed to presenting Noh in a manner accessible to the modern world, at the same time maintaining the spiritual integrity of this art form which, it may be truly said, is the inner sanctum of Japanese culture.


To praise Minoru Gensho’s contribution to education and cultural activities, he was awarded a medal of honor, the Medal with a Purple Ribbon, in 2006. Followed by the medal honor, he was honored as member of the Japan Art Academy, the most valuable cultural academy in Japan in 2007.In December 2008, he added Gensho II to his former stage name to hand down Gensho I, who left behind the name as a great restorer of Umewaka family, after the interval of 345 years.In 2014, Minoru Genshowas accredited as the holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure.) In2018 he succeeded to the Minoru 4th.

Genjirô Okura

Genjirô Okura perpetuates the long musical tradition of Noh theatre. He is the 16th kotsuzumi drum grand master at the Okura School. Having been acclaimed as a “Living National Treasure” in 2007, Okura is passionate about bringing the beauty of this ancient form of Japanese theatre to new generations. In this programme, he performs classics of the repertoire as well as two new pieces, Zeami Santai and Goyo Fushi, which celebrate the art, dance and music of Noh theatre and were conceived by Okura in collaboration with the actor Minoru Umewaka, also a National Living Treasure. 

The essential

Wednesday 9 October 2019
8.30 p.m. - Auditorium


  • - Full price €25.00
  • - Member price €15.00


The programme

Public Masterclasse


Wednesday 9 October from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. 


Genjirô Okura and guests

In this masterclass, the maestro will talk about the art of Noh theatre, for which he is a passionate ambassador. Genjirô Okura has made it his mission to perpetuate the tradition of Noh theatre and promote it around the world.




Wednesday 9 October at 8.30 p.m. 


Minoru Umewaka, Kohei Kawaguchi, Madoka Mikata, Masaki Umano, Hiromichi Tamoi voice, Genjirô Okura small percussion, Hirotada Kamei drum, Yuichiro Hayashi percussion, Keizo Akai flute


Programme :

Zeami Santai 
Goyo Fuchi 

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