Singapore Workshop on a Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center
シンガポール シンポジウム ・日本舞台芸術リソースセンター
June 24-26, 2005
National University of Singapore

Generously funded by The Japan Foundation

Individual Presentation Abstract


Hosei Nohgaku Institute Collection, Hosei University

Steven Nelson, Hosei University, Japan

pdf version


Back to Agenda

This presentation has two principal aims: to give an outline survey of the major holdings of the Hôsei Daigaku Nôgaku Kenkyûsho (Hosei Nohgaku Institute / Hosei University Institute of Nogaku Studies) that could be used in creating learning and/or research modules for JPARC; and to introduce the institute's set of 50 or so short film clips of performances of and kyôgen filmed in 1932–34 and recently released in VHS and DVD format. Five of the clips will be available for input into the database during the training workshop scheduled for later in the conference.

The official full name of the institute is the Nogami Kinen Hôsei Daigaku Nôgaku Kenkyûsho (The Nogami Memorial Institute of Nogaku Studies, Hosei University). It is named after Nogami Toyoichirô (1883–1950), a former president of the university and pioneer in the field of research on and kyôgen . Nogami played a crucial role in expanding what was originally a small research unit within the Faculty of Letters into today's independent institute, which was officially launched in 1952, two years after his death. The institute is committed to fostering research on the history and contemporary performance practice of and kyôgen , and also actively supports further growth in these theatrical forms through the sponsorship of awards for excellence in performance and research.

The center of the institute's collection is an extensive body of written source materials dating from the Muromachi period (1392–1573) to the present. These include theoretical works, pictorial materials, libretti, vocal scores and instrumental notations from the complete time range, as well as programs and other performance records from the 17th century onwards. To date, less emphasis has been placed on other material elements of and kyôgen performance; the institute does not possess anything of great significance in terms of masks, costumes, or music instruments, neither has it attempted the systematic documentation of modern performances on film or video. Its most valuable future contributions to JPARC, therefore, are likely to be examples of written documentary sources, of both textual and pictorial nature.

One exception to the institute's general emphasis of written documentary materials, however, is a set of 50 or so short film clips of and kyôgen performances from the early 1930s. Filmed without sound, they are thought to be the oldest moving representations of these theatrical arts, and capture master performers of the pre-war years in short excerpts from more than forty different plays. They were filmed by Ejima Ihei (1895–1975) and formed a very small part of Ejima's extensive collection of and kyôgen materials, Kôzan Bunko, which was donated to the institute by his family in 1976.

The films were brought back to life in the 1980s, when they underwent a process of preservation and elaboration, to produce Meika no Omokage (‘Vestiges of the Masters'), a two-hour compilation that is now available in VHS and DVD formats. In the latter half of my presentation, I plan to survey the entire contents of the video/DVD, and examine the methods employed by the institute, and the technicians and performers involved, in the production of the newly edited version. I hope that this will serve as a springboard for discussion of methodological (and perhaps technical) issues in the use of moving images, as well as possibilities for the use of items from the set in JPARC learning and/or research modules.
  Back to Agenda