Noh performer Hisa Uzawa has spent her life devoted to an art form that — with its slow and steady movements, sparse staging and ancient chanting — may at first seem staid. In her hands, however, the 650-year-old tradition becomes relentlessly contemporary.

Uzawa was born into a noh family in 1949. Her father, Masashi, was a shite (lead actor) in the Kanze School and part of the Tessenkai Ensemble, and Uzawa grew up steeped in traditional music and arts.

"When I first moved here, the house we had was much smaller," she tells The Japan Times from her home in Shinagawa Ward. "I could hear my father's students having lessons late into the night. The whole space was used for classes, so I slept in the bathroom at night. Noh songs for me are like lullabies. I've been surrounded by noh since the day I was born."