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Senshuraku: The Connection Between Noh and Sumo


Senshuraku: The Connection Between Noh and Sumo

Did you know that there is a deep connection between Noh and Sumo? This connection is rooted in the Noh play "Takasago," which has been sung at Japanese weddings for centuries.


The Connection Between Takasago and Weddings


The seats where the bride and groom sit at the wedding reception are called "Takasago seats," which derives from the Noh play "Takasago." "Takasago" is based on the legend of the pine trees at Takasago Shrine (Hyogo Prefecture) and Sumiyoshi Taisha (Osaka Prefecture, a national treasure), known as "Aioi no Matsu" or "Twin Pines." These pines are male and female trees growing from the same root, symbolizing unity.


In the first half of the play, the spirits of the pines from Takasago Shrine and Sumiyoshi Taisha appear as an old couple and narrate the story of the twin pines. In the second half, the god Sumiyoshi Myojin appears and dances gracefully. Over time, it became customary to sing a passage from "Takasago" at weddings, with the wish that the bride and groom will always be as close as the twin pines.


"Takasago ya

Kono ura fune ni ho wo agete

Kono ura fune ni ho wo agete

Tsuki morotomo ni ideshio no

Nami no Awaji no shimakage ya

Tooku Naruo no oki sugite

Haya Suminoe ni tsukinikeru

Haya Suminoe ni tsukinikeru"


After setting sail from Takasago Bay,

With the moon above, at the rising tide,

Through the foamy waves past Awaji's isle,

Leaving distant Naruo far behind,

Swiftly, we reached the shores of Suminoe.



Senshuraku: The Connection Between Noh and Sumo


The Final Day of Sumo, Senshuraku, Originates from the Noh Play 'Takasago


The final chant of "Takasago" is called "Senshuraku." Sometimes, only this auspicious part is sung at the end of a day's performance, known as "Tsuke Shugen." Since the final play of the day often involves spirits or demons, ending with an auspicious chant provides a positive closure. This Noh practice is said to be the origin of the term "Senshuraku" which refers to the final day of a Sumo tournament or stage performance.


Noh has a history spanning over 600 years, while sumo's history is said to exceed 1,500 years. The fact that these two long-standing traditions are connected through the term "Senshuraku" in the Noh play "Takasago" is fascinating.


Senshuraku: The Connection Between Noh and Sumo

I visited Takasago Shrine in May and saw the "Aioi no Matsu." The twin pines that connect the traditional Japanese arts of Noh and sumo truly embody the auspicious Noh chant "Takasago" sung at weddings. Reflecting on Japan's long history at Takasago Shrine is a wonderful experience. Additionally, while foreign tourists love watching sumo, I hope they also discover the charm of Noh.


Senshuraku: The Connection Between Noh and Sumo

At our company, we offer various "experiences" at Yarai Noh Theater in Kagurazaka, Shinjuku. These include: ① A demonstration of a shimai (Noh dance) by a Noh actor and a mini-lecture on Noh, ② A tour of Yarai Noh Theater, including backstage areas and viewing precious Noh masks, ③ The opportunity to step onto the Noh stage and try a Shimai yourself. These are custom-made private tour experiences, allowing you to experience all or part of these activities.


While renting out Ryogoku Kokugikan, where grand Sumo tournaments are held, is difficult, renting out Yarai Noh Theater is possible. Experiencing a Shimai or trying one yourself, performed by a genuine Noh actor in the Yarai Noh Theater, a registered national tangible cultural property in Japan, would be a luxurious and unforgettable experience.


Senshuraku: The Connection Between Noh and Sumo

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How to Access Kagurazaka


The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.




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