Bugaku “Ryou-ō” performance
Date: December 21, 2018 (Fri.) 20:00-
Place: Wajunzan-Kankiin-Hoshinji (Hongo 5-27-11 Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo）
Entrance fee: 8,000 yen
*The entrance fee will be collected at the time of entry. (Cash only)
What is Gagaku?
Gagaku is one style of music originating from Japanese ancient music, which has been mixed with those of neighboring countries for centuries and matured into a unique Japanese style.
It is said that the foundation of Gagaku today was formed as early as about 1,300 years ago.
It has a long tradition as ceremonial music of the Japanese Imperial Court, and it is said that ancient aristocrats and emperors at the time enjoyed performing Gagaku.
In addition, during Heian-era (A.D 794 – 1185), “Gakke” who made their living by performing Gagaku started to engage in performance, and their descendants have still put their efforts to carrying on the long tradition at the Kunaichou-shikibushoku-gakubu (Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency).
Also, Gagaku performed by the Kunaichou-shikibushoku-gakubu has been registered as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
In A.D. 752, a large-scale international event was held at Daibuthu-kaigan-kuyoue (a ceremony to consecrate the Great Buddha) in Nara and Gagaku performance took place as well, the records of which now exist.
Performance style of Gagaku: Kangen and Bugaku
(wind/string instruments and dance)
Kangen is an ensemble style in which wind instruments and string instruments are played together.
In Japan, Kangen performance had already been established well before orchestra performance style came into existence in Europe. In other words, Gagaku is the “oldest orchestra in the world”.
Basically, instrumental part of Gagaku consists of three kinds of wind instruments (Sho / Hitiriki / Ryuteki), two kinds of string instruments (Biwa / Sō), and three kinds of percussion instruments (Kakko / Taiko / Shoko).
In Bugaku, with performance of wind/percussion instruments, from one up to six dancers dance. Dance style can be divided into Hiramai, Hashirimai, Bu-no-mai, and Doubu, in each of them dancers wear luxurious and gorgeous costumes in accordance with each piece of music. Basically in Bugaku, Togaku is called “Saho” (left side) and Komagaku is called “Uho” (right side).
Gagaku largely consists of three categories:
1.Kuniburi-no-utamai: unique Japanese ancient music
2.Tōgaku/Komagaku: continental music originating from China, Korean Peninsula and others
3.Rouei/Saibara: music with vocal part, especially popular during Heian-era
Kuniburi-no-utamai is a kinf of singing and dancing created in Japan with the times, including notably the ancient Kagura-uta.
This is performed mainly by singing, wind instruments, and Japanese ancient string instruments called “Wagon“, sometimes accompanied by dancing.
Tōgaku is a collective name of music that came from China, which we most frequently have chances to listen, with the widest variety of instruments. They originate from not only China but also via the Silk Road, such as India, Vietnam and Mongolia.
Komagaku is a collective name of music that came from Korean Peninsula, which, even though using fewer instruments than Tōgaku, plentifully reminds us of some distinct mood of its old days. Although in the past string instruments sometimes took part, nowadays they are scarcely used.
Both Rouei and Saibara are music with vocal part, the former is accompanied by wind instruments and the latter is accompanied by wind/string instruments. In the early days they were performed actively at musical events in the Imperial Court and many ones were composed, but gradually moved into decline. Many of those inherited to the present generation are the ones revived during Edo-era (A.D. 1603 – 1868).
About the Bugaku of “Ryou-ō“
This is based on a story of Ranryou-o-Cyokyo, a king who actually existed during the ancient Chinese Northern Qi dynasty.
Cyokyo had very sweet appearance, attracting even men’s eyes.
In this story, soldiers of his own army constantly looked at him and tended to lose their morale, that’s why he was annoyed, so he decided to hide his face by wearing a terrifying mask, went into the battlefield, and eventually won a victory.
Please enjoy the dance of valiant king.
About the venue, Hoshinji
It is formally named as Wajunzan-Kankiin-Hoshinji, which was designated by Chion-in Temple in Kyoto in 1596 (Sengoku-era).
Amano Tosho, who served as chief cook for the General Ieyasu Tokugawa, devoted one of Tokugawa family’s suburban residences which became the temple’s foundation.
According to historical records, in 1627, this temple was established designating honor saint Genrenja as its first chief priest and Kyotaro Amano as its founder.
It is also publicly known as being related to Ichiyo Higuchi, a famous Japanese novelist (May 2, 1872 – November 23, 1896).
It is very valuable just to look around Hoshinji with its tradition of more than 400 years.
*Click on the image to enlarge it.