Kyogen Actor Shigeyama Chuzaburo Illuminates Traditional Comedy

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shigeyama Chuzaburo talks about the appeal of kyogen, holding a “Buaku” kyogen mask in his hand, in Nara.

NARA — Kyogen actor Shigeyama Chuzaburo held a lecture where he explained the play “Uozeppo” (The fish sermon) with a demonstration at Yakushiji temple in Nara in late February.

About 80 people attended the lecture, titled “Warai,” held as part of monthly classes organized by Yakushiji Mahoroba Juku and sponsored by The Yomiuri Shimbun. The academy offers lectures and seminars aiming to convey the beautiful spirit of Japanese people and rich cultures in Japan.

Shigeyama, a 40-year-old performer of the Okura school, made his debut at the age of 4, and assumed the name of Chuzaburo V in 2017. He performs overseas, and is also involved in teaching kyogen to children.

On Feb. 19, he performed “Uozeppo,” in which a fisherman turned Buddhist priest starts listing names of fish to avoid reciting a sutra. “Kyogen has a theme that the author wants to convey. ‘Uozeppo’ also may have had a missionary aspect to convey the teachings of Buddha,” Shigeyama explained in the lecture.

Shigeyama also introduced the history of kyogen and talked about the “Buaku” mask, which appears to be either smiling or frowning depending on the angle you view it. “People are often obliged to look down in Japan and around the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can become light-hearted by just looking up,” he stressed.