Japan Arts Council

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National Theatre (Small Theatre)
November 2022 Gagaku Performance

ACA National Arts Festival Supports
Sounds of the Court
Gagaku and Ryukyu Uzagaku

Performance Date
November 12 (Sat.), 2022

Performance Time
2:00 p.m. - 4:10 p.m.
* End time is an estimate and may vary.

Kangen Ōjō no kyū

Commentary Court Culture and Performing Arts in Japan and the Ryukyu Kingdom
Commentary by Terauchi Naoko and Higa Etsuko

Uzagaku Gaseichō/Mannenkan/Tenshoshō/Sasōgai/Taiheika
Ryukuan Classical Music Kajadifū-bushi

Bugaku Manzairaku

Tokyo Gakuso, The Uzagaku Restoration Performance and Study Group

Tickets (Tax included)
Adults: 5,000 yen
Students: 3,500 yen
Seating plan

* Audio guide: Not available.
* Subtitles: Available only in Japanese.
* English synopsis is available. Please ask at the reception desk.

Booking Opens
October 18 (Tue.), 2022

Box Office
0570-07-9900 (From overseas: +81-3-3230-3000) in Japanese and English
(10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)

Counter Sales at the Theatre 
available from October 19 (Wed.), 2022

in Japanese


 Within the Imperial Courts across Asia, including those in Japan, a variety of performing arts has developed since the early times. Some originated as religious events, or to show hospitality to visiting foreign delegates, or even for the amusement of the courtiers. The performing arts that evolved in the Japanese Imperial Courts comprise Gagaku, which developed around Kyoto, and those of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which was in the current Okinawa Prefecture.Both forms of the arts are being performed today.

 Both of these performing arts originated and developed from the similar environment of the Imperial Court, while there are great differences in the period of time and cultural climate. This program focuses on "enthronement," a common thread in both performing arts formats, and introduces related musical pieces.

 As for Gagaku, Ōjō no Kyū and Manzairaku are presented from among the pieces which, according to “Taigenshō” or “Gakkaroku,” are said to have been performed on the occasion of an enthronement. Especially, Bugaku Manzairaku is performed even today at “Kyōen no Gi” – court banquets following the ceremony of enthronement of the Emperor – along with Taiheiraku.

 The Ryukyuan performing arts cast a spotlight on Uzagaku, which used to be rendered at the ceremonies of sappō (an investiture by the Chinese court as a tributary state) or Edo nobori (Edo dachi), the protocol for a new King of Ryukyu to pay a courtesy visit to the Edo Shogunate following the enthronement.

 Uzagaku, ceremonial music only performed on a special occasion, is music of Chinese origin played on instruments originating in China. Back then, the Ryukyu Kingdom worked as a nation on the acquisition of Uzagaku, and the music played an important role in diplomatic courtesy towards the Edo Shogunate or the Satsuma Domain. Following the Haihan-Chiken (abolition of the feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), the Kingdom itself ceased to exist, leading to a suspension of the transmission of Uzagaku. Since then, it had been become “a lost art of court music” until recently, when it was restored as an undertaking by the Okinawa Prefecture.

 At the Shuri Castle, Uzagaku was performed without interruption during ceremonies, and is closely associated with them. As for Edo nobori, it is said to have been played in the concert style in front of Shōgun or the feudal retainers of the Satsuma Domain. This would be a performance of three to five pieces of instrumental music plus two or more chants (Ming compositions and Qing compositions), then concluded with the Ryukyuan classical music Kajadifū.

 For this event, we present the Ryukyuan performing arts focused on Edo nobori through its standard numbers and styles, including Gaseichō and Mannenkan, one of the most frequently performed Edo nobori pieces.

 The program also includes commentary by Terauchi Naoko and Higa Etsuko, which will enlighten you on the close connection between Imperial Court culture and the performing arts, the historical and cultural backgrounds surrounding them, and much more.

 Please don’t miss the opportunity to experience this one-day collaborative performance highlighting the lovely and historic qualities of Uzagaku, once called “a lost art of court music,” and Gagaku.