With a theme of "beauty of martial-arts" lying underneath, Bugaku is a dynamic and stylish performing arts that combines traditional musical instruments with various performances and dances of martial arts. Those musical instruments include biwa (Japanese lute), hand drums, nokan (flute), Shinto flute and Japanese drums.
Budo and Bujutsu is somewhat a symbolism of Japan that cannot go without being discussed when speaking of Japan. Starting with Sumo, the national sport of Japan, and Judo, an Olympic sport, there is kenjutsu, jujutsu, karate, aikido, kobujutsu and the martial-arts boom nowadays.
The skills, form, timing, courtesy, spirit, the beauty within the physical maneuvers, and then the beauty found in swords, armors, and battle outfits, the functional beauty, the aesthetics of samurai, etc...
Bugaku is a Kabugeki of dynamic dance and valiant music that is orchestrated as a composite art of a new art movement called the "martial-arts campaign" proposed from a viewpoint of "beauty of martial-arts" by Koushiro Minamoto.
Currently, there are common dance plays in Japanese martial-arts and traditional performing arts such as the Nanba movement which is attracting some attention from various fields.
Bugaku is an art that restructures the intrinsic value of refined theory of technique for protecting something important at the risk of one’s life.
Also, Bugaku is not only tied to ancient traditions or traditional instruments but also incorporates Chinese martial-arts, Tae Kwon Do, and the latest acrobatic martial-arts such as XMA (extreme martial-arts), as well as the Idaki, the world’s oldest wind instrument legacy from Australia, which is used to communicate with the spirits.
By combining these kinds of traditional Japanese martial-arts and music with
the modern martial-arts and overseas folk instruments, we see
a potential of a new culture.
Bugaku】PV(Interview of Minamoto Koshiro) watch movie
I have originated a new style of Japanese traditional dance art
BUGKAU is constituted from theories of three main Japanese traditional
Firstly, a theory of Japanese martial art BUJUTSU; such as Iaido
(skill of a quick sword drawing), Kenjustu (Japanese swordsmanship),Boujutsu
(stick fighting) and Naginata (a halberd-like weapon). Secondly,
traditional Japanese masked dance-drama paly NOH and thirdly a traditional
Japanese music style WAGAKU.
BUGAKU is a challenge to open a new frontier to Japanese traditional
Martial art and Japanese traditional dance play have a lot of
similarities. Both traditional Japanese dance play and martial
art have perfected movements. Each action has its own reason for
existence and movement is refined to its simplest form to maintain
a perfect balance to give best effect.
Stillness and motion, motion to stillness. When the tension of
antagonistic forces reaches to its highest level, the power explodes
from static to dynamic. The action throb our heart and it conjures
unheard music dwells in our body, it is an art of movement more
I consider NOH’s interpretation of the world and motion technique
accompanied by WAGAKU sounds, that leads already perfected beautility
of BUJUTSU to a new level.
The world interpretation of NOH is to “encounter with subtle
and profound beauty”.
Yashima (eight Islands) is one example of such an encounter.
This is known as one of the best play written by Yoami (Japanese
play writer and composer) with finest music of his work. The play
is about woes of dead samurai warriors. Those samurai warriors
have fall into hell of eternal fights, from what they have done
during their life.
A traveling priest (Waki : a supporting cast) from capital met
a mysterious old fisherman(Mae Shite: pre-form of the main character),
who hinted himself to be an embodiment of a dead war lord Yoshitsune
and disappeared. The old fishermen came into the priest’s dream
on that night. In that dream, the old fisherman appeared as Yoshitsune
himself (Nochi-Shite: transformed form of the main character),
wearing a suit of armor and looked dignified. Yoshitsune showed
the scene of Yumi-nagashi, which was about him fighting to protect
his name and bravery. Then Yoshitsune showed his eternal fight
still going on against Taira-no- Noritsune ( the protector of
Noto area in Japan) and then the ghost of Yoshitsune blended into
a morning storm from a dream.
In order to show the difference between the real world and spiritual
world, A traveling priest (Waki : a supporting cast) would not
wear a MEN (a mask) but the inhabitance of the spiritual world,
Yoshitsune (Shite: Main character) would wear a MEN (a mask) to
express the subtle and profound beauty away from humanly world.
This world of subtle and profound beauty is created by NOH movements
called HAKOBI. HAKOBI is coming from Japanese word HAKOBU which
means “to carry”. NOH movement HAKOBI stands for distinctive NOH
walk, it is so called because we “carry” the mask. The world of
NOH is heavily dependent on way they move the masks. The mask
conjures the sense of subtle and profound beauty such as divinity
and mysteriousness. However, if the masked actor moved it in an
offhand manner, all sacredness disappears right away. The angling
of a mask is very important. That is why NOH require dignified
HAKOBI also exists in BUJITSU (Japanese martial art).
Contrary to KSBUKI, NOH never emits energy outwards, it always
draws energy towards the actor himself. For example you can see
that from hands movement. In KABUKI, you can see actors occasionally
open their hands towards the audience during an act. On the other
hand in NOH, actors always show the back of their hands to the
audience. The rule limits the movement but it gives an order to
the dance. Move, hold, hold and move. The particular limitation
of movements draws the audience into a sacred moment.
It also happens in martial arts. When two people are fighting,
there is a moment the concentration and tension reaches to the
maximum level and the skill of two people balances out. Whatever
they do, they know each move will be countered by the other. Only
very little they can do and there will be a moment of silence.
Each small holy moment of silences, they look for chance to move,
the silence is the precast to the next movement towards the end.
WAGAKU perfectly conjures that holy moment into the air with
WAGAKU is an indispensable partner to Bugaku, because unlike western
style music, WAGAKU considers “silence” between each sound is
also a part of melody.
BUGAKU is obviously not only dependent on tranquil sounds. In
order to express a beauty of the energy flare emitted by the motion
change from static to dynamic, BUGAKU has to have both characteristics
in accompanied music. While taking into consideration of other
music, including Kagura (Shinto music and dance numbers), Gagaku
(Ancient Japanese court dance and music), NOH, KABUKI, BUGAKU
also taking in valiant sound essence from Satsuma biwa (Satuma
lute ), graceful sound essence from Chikuzen biwa (chikuzen lute).
Finally quite different from NOH and KABUKI, BUGAKU adopted vigorous
beat of Wadaiko (Japanese traditional drum) as well.
BUGAKU is a heightened stylistic beauty within the moment of
silence before the action. It embraces NOH interpretation of the
world, movement accords with WAGAKU essence to express beauty
and holiness dwells with in BUJUTSU.
A legendary Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa was the master
of this “moment of silence” before the action. He expressed this
stylistic beauty in moment of silence with a film called “Tsubaki
In this film, when two samurai sword masters Ttsubaki san ju-ro
(played by Toshiro Mifune) and Muroto Han-bei (played by Tatsuya
Nakadai) faced against each other, there was a moment of long
silence. They were absolutely equal in their power and they knew
one movement leads to the decisive blow. There was a beauty of
“balance and tension”. Once a perfect balance reached to climax,
the silence ended with a flash of a sword and splash of bloods.
When this was shown in America, there was a standing ovation in
the theater. The silence was the most talkative motion in the
film, without that scene the film never accomplished the admiration.
BUGAKU is a new style of Japanese dance art, which is a refined
fusion of the subtle and profound beauty of NOH and the active
of silence in BUJUTSU.
Finally, I would like to explain about BUGAKUZA which was established
to widely spread the understanding of BUGAKU.
Since it was established, BUGAKUZA invited to Yasukuni Shrine,
Ikuta Shrine and many other shrines and temples to perform dedicatory
dance. Also BUGAKUZA was invited to perform in Museums, NOH stages,
Fuji Rock Festival and many performances in foreign countries
such as London, Paris, Firenze, Brussels and Jerusalem.
I especially remember the performance in Firenze. BUGAKUZA held
Basilica di Santa Croce (Lecce), where Giotto di Bondone gave
all he had in his skill of creation and it is the final resting
place of Michelangelo and Galileo. Performing with timeless masters
of history inspired me and gave me chance to grow.
I am still on the way to perfect BUGAKU. It is a growing art.
As an originator of a new style in traditional art, I feel it
is my duty to make BUGAKU known to world. For that reason, as
well as to be a best performer, I devote myself to be a best teacher
of BUGAKU. Please enjoy a new expression of Japanese dance art
BUGAKU with us.
【Bugaku facebook page】 http://www.facebook.com/BUGAKU