- Association for Asian Studies
- Sheraton Centre Toronto
The status of women performers in Noh has been a subject of debate before women’s entry into the Nohgaku Kyokai (Nohgaku Performers’ Association) in 1948. In 1948, just a few years after the Second World War, several women were allowed to apply for professional status as Noh performers. Before that, women were only permitted to practice Noh as a hobby. Even after women were recognized as Noh professionals, it was not until 2004 that certain female Noh performers were recognized as Intangible Cultural Properties and permitted to enter the Nihon Nohgakukai (Association for Japanese Noh Plays). It means that they were not recognised at the highest levels of professional performance of Noh, though some of them were as skilled as male professionals. After that, however, there still remains a considerable negative attitude to Noh performances by women or women Noh players among critics or audiences. In this presentation, we examine articles on women's Noh performance run in some Japanese general newspapers after the late 19th century to the present and discuss these articles quantitatively and qualitatively. In this way we will find and analyse some tendencies or characteristics in discourse about performance depending on differences in sex, their skill, or their status as the Noh performers. The paper will discuss socially-accepted ideas represented in these articles. This will make it clear that the logic of some negative attitudes to Noh performances by women or women Noh players is based on the tradition of Noh as well as their ability or technique.