Temples and theatres

Text and photos by: Lars Berger

Kyoto is a very unique and traditional city in the Kansai Region, in which you can find a lot of temples and other cultural heritages.

After leaving the hotel, the MIRAI Group went to the Kinkakuji Temple which literally means “Golden Pavillion Temple” by bus. It was build in the 14th century, destroyed in the 15th century, burnt down in 1950 and was rebuild in 1955. It is now one of the world’s most important cultural heritages. Strolling through the temple’s gardens will give you an insight into what life in feudal Japan was about.

After that we went to visit the Higashi Hongan-ji temple and got a guided tour by a monk of the temple. The massive wooden construction is unique and the giant halls of the temple offer a lot of space to the visitors. When finishing the tour we received a meal which is typical for monks and which doesn´t contain meat and fish.

The final section of the day was a visit to a Noh-theater. Noh-theater has a very old tradition. It has existed since the 14th century and contains a lot of components. At first our group got an introducing into the characteristics of masks. Masks are the most important part of the theatre and not uncommonly very old and worthful. They can show expressions depending on the way they are angled to the audience. Did you know that the devil-like mask represents a woman who is jealous about her unloyal man and is growing horns due to her anger.

After that we were introduced of the actor’s roles. The play is accompanied by a flute, two drums and singing. The main dancers are wearing a Kimono, which literally means “a thing to wear” and is produced at high costs. The main actors represent mostly persons of higher rank and represent their stories by performing dances.

One of the most impressing moments was that our group got the possibility to join the Noh-theater’s performance. Some of our group learned to walk properly on stage and some could try out the instruments and wear the traditional Kimonos.

At least we saw a full performance in which the musicians, the singers and the actors played a drama.

For me this was a very impressing experience to see how the actors represented the ancient culture, which I want to pass to my family and friends. When I come to Japan in the future, I definitely want to join a Noh performance again.

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