noh: journey into another world




Designed by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Enoura Observatory -- meditative space where visitors are hoped to reconnect with nature the way our ancestors did -- features a modern  stage for Noh performances. Built of e optical glass, it catches the light on its cut edges. 


The theater is set in the open air and ,  perched on a steep cliff , overlooking Sagami Bay. Aligned with the surface of the water in such a way so as to relect light, it almost seems to be floating in the air -- surreal, hanging somewhere between the real world and the heavens. Which is exactly where action of the Noh stories often takes place... 

But the purpose was also to bring the performances into open air and stage them the way they were originally meant to be experienced -- in nature. Interaction with the elements and natural light played a tremendously important part in the Noh theater when it was created 650 years ago. 

The Japanese word for theatrical performance -- shibai -- is supposed to have its origins in the word shiba meaning grass. 

The origins of the performing arts in Japan go back to the ancient legend of Ama-no-Iwato. According to this legend, Ame-nousume (the dawn goddess) danced in order to lure forth Amaterasu-omikami, the sun goddess, who was hiding in a cave. The episode is recreated in a votive dance that is still performed on a grass-covered stage during the On-Matsuri festival at Kasuga-taisha in Nara, when divine spirits cross from the Kasuga Wakamiya jinja at night. 


Enoura auditorium is a full-size recreation of a ruined Roman amphitheater in Ferrento in the Lazio region of Italy. To the audience, the glass stage appears to be floating on the surface of the sea. 





Paved with optical glass this stage sits on a kakezuri framework of Hinoki cypress.