The Art of Nihon Buyo

On October 7, the Japan Center had the pleasure and honor of having Hanayagi Nihon Buyo (日本舞踊) Masters Hanayagi Noriyuki and Hanayagi Kinchiyo here for the elementary school students’ PACT day. Nihon Buyo is a traditional Japanese performance from the Edo period. It incorporates the use of dance and pantomime for entertainment purposes.

Hanayagi Noriyuki was born in Tokyo as the grandson of the late Hanayagi Juraku II, who was one of the two living national treasures in Nihon Buyo. He developed his own distinctive style, which, along with being highly praised, has represented Nihon Buyo as well as all other Japanese performing arts. Hanayagi Noriyuki began his Nihon Buyo career learning from his grandfather at 4 years old. Hanayagi is currently the largest school of Nihon Buyo with over 20,000 master practitioners.

Noriyuki and Kinchiyo gave three performances each to grades 1-5, which received immediate positive feedback from ES students. They performed Echigozishi (越後獅子), Tenarai-ko (手習い子) and Sakura-Sakura ( さくら さくら). Supporting the Japan Center’s mission of onko-chishin (温故知新), developing new ideas by understanding the past, this presentation aimed for the students to be immersed in the rich Japanese performing art of Nihon Buyo, use their imaginations in understanding what some of the movements mean and to find the spirit of Japanese omotenashi (おもてなし), the manners we find in modern-day Japan.

ES students also learned the history of Nihon Buyo and the variety of character movements using the fan and other props. Our guests touched upon how Nihon Buyo movements and manners can be found in other Japanese art forms as well.

Each presentation ended with time for students to ask questions. We had some amazing questions from students in both Japanese and English. The Masters were very impressed by our ES students, as were we. (Mariko Yokosuka and Kyoko Takano, Japan Center Co-Directors)

You can read more about Nihon Buyo on the Nihon Buyo Futaba-kai homepage.