Watch a free Noh performance online with English subtitles

Arts Council Tokyo has uploaded the popular Japanese theatre drama ‘Funa Benkei’ to YouTube for the world to enjoy

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

It’s rare to see traditional Noh theatre outside of Japan, but even when you’re watching a performance in the flesh, it can be difficult to follow the story without adequate translation. Though it may not be a live show, this special performance of ‘Funa Benkei’, uploaded to Arts Council Tokyo’s YouTube channel, provides handy English subtitles so you won’t be lost trying to understand Japanese classical prose. 

In this production set in the late Heian period (794-1185), military commander Minamoto no Yoshitsune must flee the capital after falling out with his brother, Yorimoto. Before his banishment, Yoshitsune was celebrated for his victory in the Genpei War, but the only companions he has by his side on his lonely journey to the west are his loyal retainer, Musashibo Benkei, and his lover, Shizuka Gozen. 

Despite being centuries old, the story portrays a considerable amount of courage, anguish and longing as well as other burdens of the human experience that are still relevant today. Along with the video of the performance itself, there are also several clips highlighting each character’s state of mind during crucial moments. These important scenes are accompanied by chants and instruments which are essential to a Noh theatre production. 

The video will be available online until March 31. You can read more about the stories and the performers here

More from Time Out 

Netflix is releasing a new documentary drama about Japan's samurai warriors

You can now get Covid-19 test kits from vending machines in Tokyo

This new Tokyo café has robot waiters controlled remotely by disabled workers

Japan cherry blossom 2021 forecast: sakura expected to bloom earlier in Tokyo

teamLab Borderless in Tokyo is getting a fresh spring look from March

Want to be the first to know what’s cool in Tokyo? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates from Tokyo and Japan.

More on Time In

    You may also like
    You may also like