Many young artists experience a make-or-break moment in their careers. For 24-year-old noh actor Motoi Imai, his debut as the shite (lead) character in the production of “Tsunemasa” could be that moment.
Imai is the grandson of Yasuo Imai, a revered noh actor who belongs to the Hosho-ryu group. It is one of five existing schools of noh, and Yasuo is the oldest active performer in the field. Following in the footsteps of his forebears, Motoi is taking on the challenge of portraying the ghost of Taira no Tsunemasa, a real-life warrior who died in the battle of Ichi-no-tani Valley in Hyogo Prefecture in 1184.
The other character in the hourlong play is Sozu Gyokei, a monk serving at a Kyoto temple, who exchanges words with the ghost. Tsunemasa was a renowned lute player, and through his conversation with the monk, the warrior starts to reminisce about the days he enjoyed reading poems and playing music. Apart from “Tsunemasa,” three more noh plays and two kyōgen (traditional comedy) are on the program of the monthly Gounkai noh meet, which features relatively young talent.
Gounkai takes place at Hosho Nogakudo Hall in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, on Nov. 17. Tickets are ¥5,000 for adults and ¥2,500 for students. For details, call (03) 3811-4843 or visit www.hosho.or.jp/yoyaku.html .