Kanze-ryu (Kanze School) (観世流)

Kanze-ryu is one of the schools in Nohgaku theater
It consists of shite-kata (main roles), kotsuzumi-kata (small hand drum player) and taiko-kata (drum player).

shite-kata (main roles)

Shite-kata of Kanze-ryu is a school that originated in Yuzaki-troupe, which was one of Four Troupes of Yamato-Sarugaku. The name of the school is based on 'Kanze (maru)', the child name (or stage name) of Kanami, who was the founder of the school. Zeami, the second, is famous as a person who achieved perfection of Noh play. Current soke (head of the school) is Kiyokazu KANZE, the 26th. The number of Nohgakushi (Noh actors) of the school registered in The Nohgaku Performers' Association is more than 560. It is the largest school of the five schools of Nohgaku. The UMEWAKA family once became independent as Umewaka-ryu from Kanze-ryu temporarily, it has returned to Kanze-ryu now.

Since the school is large, there are different styles of performances inside the school; however, it is said that the performance of the school has characteristics of luscious and sophisticated tastes. A characteristic of Utai (Noh song) is that it is sung brilliantly with high-pitched tones without elongating a vowel at the end of a word. The mellowed and mild kata (standard form of a movement) is preferred in the school. After the World War II, three plays of "Mitsuyama," "Motomezuka" and "Semimaru" were reproduced, and as a result 210 plays are currently played.

Kanami and Zeami

Kiyotsugu KANAMI (1333-1384), the founder of the school, is Mr So-and-so's third son adopted by Mino dayu of Yamada sarugaku. And Kanami became dayu (toryo no shite (the head of main actors)) of Yuzaki troupe. He changed Yuzaki troupe whose main performance had been in shrine ritual sarugaku into the one centered in sarugaku (form of theatre popular in Japan during the 11th to 14th centuries). In and after his middle age, he gradually came to be recognized as the master of sarugaku even outside Yamato Province. Especially, he was recognized by Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA in Kanjin Noh (performances held to raise subscriptions for the construction of shrines or temples) played at Rakuchu Imakumano in around 1374. After that, he extended his influence centering in Kinki region under the patronage of the distinguished persons.

Motokiyo ZEAMI, the second Head Master (1363?-1443), got the patronage of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, Yoshimoto NIJO and Doyo SASAKI since his childhood because of his good looks. He grew to be an adult with culture of the nobles including waka (Japanese traditional poems with 31 syllables) and renga (linked verse). After the death of his father Zeami, he, as the tayu (a leading actor) of Kanze group, competed with Inuo of Omi Sarugaku for the popularity. He succeeded in establishing so-called Utamai Noh by introducing the elements of utamai in Dengaku Noh into Sarugaku Noh, which had been performed mainly in a mimicry form. In the era of Yoshimochi Ashikaga, while he competed with Zoami, the master of Dengaku supported by Yoshimochi for the popularity, he wrote new Noh plays such as "Takasago," "Tadanori," "Kiyotsune," "Saigyozakura," "Izutsu (Noh play)," "Eguchi (Noh play)," "Sakuragawa (Noh play)," "Ashikari," "Toru," "Kinuta (Noh play)" and "Koi no Omoni (The Burden of Love)." He also wrote theory books of Nohgaku such as "Fushikaden," "Shikado" and "Kakyo," trying to establish Nohgaku in the fields of performance, writing Noh dramas and theory.

Zeami handed his position as Tayu (the head master) to his eldest son Motomasa KANZE (?-1432) when he entered into priesthood in around 1422. Motomasa was such an excellent Noh player that Zeami wrote in his book "Museki isshi" (A Page on the Remnant of a Dream) as "I must admit that he is an unparalleled master although he is my son." He was also excellent at writing Noh dramas such as "Sumida-gawa River," "Yoroboshi," "Kasen" and "Morihisa." However, after the death of Yoshimochi, Yoshinori ASHIKAGA who supported Otoami (Motoshige KANZE) assumed the position of Seii-taishogun (the commander in chief of samurai). Much pressure including the cancellation of the Noh performance at Sento Imperial Palace and replacement of gakuto-shiki (right to play sarugaku) in Daigoji-Temple, Kiyotaki-miya Shrine with Otoami was put on the father and son of Zeami and Motomasa (Great Dictionary of National History). Motomasa died on a journey in 1432, the next year Otoami assumed the position of Kanze-dayu.
(Currently it is stipulated that Otoami be the third.)
Zeami, in his later years, handed down his book "Shugyoku Tokka" (gathering gems and gaining flowers) to his son-in-law Zenchiku KONPARU and was actively engaged in his activities such as writing kikigaki (account of what one hears) "Sarugaku Dangi" (lecture about Sarugaku). But he was exiled to Sado Island by the order of Yoshinori, and therefore Otoami completely took over Kanze-za.

Otoami, Nobumitsu, Nagatoshi

After he had obtained the position of Kanze dayu, the third Otoami Motoshige (1398-1467), as the master of sarugaku had the patronage of Yoshinori. It is considered that Otoami became more popular as the 'master of pioneers of Noh' than Zeami. Dengaku and Omi Sarugaku, which had been strong competitors in the previous generation, were driven out almost completely in this period, and Muromachi bakufu treated Kanze-za preferentially as the head of sarugaku. It is considered that Otoami played an important role in the background of this. Following Otoami, the fourth Matasaburo Morimasa (Otoami's son), the fifth Saburo Yukishige (Masamori's son), the sixth Shiro Motohiro (Yukishige's son) and the seventh Sakon Mototada (his homyo (a Buddhist name given to a person who has died or has entered the priesthood) was Sosetsu, Motohiro's son) succeeded the position of dayu in order; thus, infant dayu continued for four generations. Because of this, Nobumitsu KANZE (the seventh son of Otoami) and his son Nagatoshi KANZE played an important role as guardians. Nobumitsu was active as an otsuzumi kata (large hand drum player) and waki no shite (beside-the-doer-role). Meanwhile, he wrote extravagant and easy-to understand works of Noh such as "Yukiyanagi," "Momijigari (Noh)," "Funa Benkei" whose main themes are miraculous virtue, vengeful spirits and mysteries and he became very popular at that time. Such tendency was succeeded by Nagatoshi (Nobumitsu's son) who also acted as waki no shite and wrote many plain works that appealed to the eye including "Shozon" and "Enoshima."

The Early Edo Period

After Sosetsu KANZE, the seventh (1509-1583), lost his father when he was fourteen, he grew under the tutelage of Nagatoshi, and began to wait upon Ieyasu TOKUGAWA around 1571. He is known for his active copying densho (books on esoterica), utai-bon (singing texts) and kata tsuke (choreography) in odor to restore the influence of his school of Noh which had a little declined after the death of his last predecessor Nagatoshi. Many books bearing his name were handed down to posterity. As he did not have a son, he adopted his nephew Sakon Motomori, who died early. So, Sakon Tadachika (Kokusetsu KANZE), a son of Motomori, succeeded the ninth.

Kokusetsu KANZE, the ninth (1566-1626) waited on Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in Shizuoka from his infancy. Later, he went to Kyoto and was recognized as one of the heads of four sarugaku groups under Toyotomi's government. But he was not given an important post by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI who favored the school of Konparu. With the establishment of Edo bakufu in 1603, he was given an important role as the head of four sarugaku groups. But several years later, he caused an incident that he ran away from Sunpu and entered into priesthood in Koyasan. Although later he was allowed to return, he handed over the position to the tenth Sakon Shigenari and it is considered that he was put under virtual house arrest. In 1620 he started publishing one hundred books of Noh chants called Genna Uduki Bon (a copy of a Noh miracle score). He is known as a figure that built the foundation of the prosperity of Kanze-za in the Edo period.

In the early-modern times the school of Kanze was recognized as the head of Shiza Ichiryu that was given patronage by bakufu, and the school exerted the greatest influence until the end of the Edo period. Soke (the family of Kanze-ryu) was succeeded by the eleventh Sakon Shigekiyo (Shigenari's son), the twelfth Samon Shigetaka (Shigekiyo's son), the 13th Shigenori ORIBE (Shigekiyo's nephew) and 14th Kiyochika ORIBE (Shigenori's son) in order. Meanwhile, Kokusetsu's nephew Soha HATTORI was adopted by the Fukuo family of waki-kata (supporting actors) working in the theater, and then he succeeded the fifth Fukuo-ryu. After his retirement, he moved to Kyoto and exclusively taught Su-utai (Noh lyrics without music), and he built the foundation for spreading Kanze-ryu's utai there. Later, the seventh Morinobu Fukuo of Fukuo-ryu lost his confidence, which led to the incident that his five high-caliber disciples, so-called Kyo Kanze Gokenya (The Five Kanze Families in Kyoto), of Iwai, Inoue, Hayashi, Sono and Asano moved to the school of Kanze. However, later on until the end of the Edo Period the Gokenya and the family of Kuroemon KATAYAMA who served as the Noh players in the Imperial Palace led Kanze school in Kyoto, and formed a school called 'Kyokanze' (the Kanze school in Kyoto).

The Late Edo Period

During the era of the 15th Motoakira Kanze (1722-1774), Kanze-ryu monopolized the position of Noh teacher in the two successive reigns of Ieshige TOKUGAWA and Ieharu TOKUGAWA. Meanwhile, Kanze-ryu reached its peak of influence by activities including making a foray into Kyoto mentioned above. Under such circumstances, Motoakira had his younger brother Kiyohisa Oribe (later the 17the head of the family) found another family, Kanze Oribe family, and gain the treatment of the quasi-tayu in Shiza. Also, he created kogaki (small scripts) by taking advantage of his knowledge about kokugaku (the study of Japanese classical literature), and he was in full of activity such as going so far as to annotate upon Zeami Densho and publish it. Especially, 'Utai Libretto Revised in the Meiwa Era,' the first edition of which was published in 1765, had 210 pieces including reprints, being the largest in scale among Utai-bon officially recognized so far. The content was ambitious as the words of the book were revised with the cooperation of Munetake TAYASU and KAMO no Mabuchi. However, the revision had a very bad reputation because for Noh actors it meant to memorize all the pieces again. Therefore, after the death of Motoakira, all the pieces were tuned back to the original version.
But, part of the revision made by him has remained intact as seen in the verse of 'Kamiuta' such that 'dodo tarari' has been changed to a clear sound 'toto tarari.'

After Motoakira, Kanze-ryu was succeeded in order by Sanjuro Akinori, the 16th (son of Motoakira), Kiyohisa ORIBE, the 17th (Motoakira's younger brother, the first of the branch family), Kiyomitsu ORIBE, the 18th (Kiyohisa's son), Kiyooki ORIBE, the 19th (Kiyomitsu's younger brother, the second of the branch family), Sakon Kiyonobu, the 20th (Kiyooki's son), Sakon Kiyonaga, the 21st (Kiyonobu's son), and Sanjuro Kiyotaka, the 22nd (Kiyonaga's son). During the era of Kiyotaka, Meiji Restoration came.

Meiji Era

After the collapse of Edo bakufu, Kiyotaka chose to go down to Shizuoka with Shogun family. Kosetsu KANZE of the branch family (the fifth of the branch family, a great-grandson of Kiyooki being the 19th of Kanze-ryu family) and Minoru UMEWAKA recognized as the head Tsure of Kanze-ryu came to keep Kanze-ryu in Tokyo. Passing through the declining period of 1868, after the Noh play (performed) with the Emperor in attendance at the residence of Tomomi IWAKURA in 1876, Minoru UMEWAKA and Kosetsu put efforts to develop the Kanze-ryu while the field of Noh was gradually restoring its popularity. In the end, Minoru UMEWAKA began to issue the diploma of his school to his professional and amateur disciples in the name of Umewaka. However, facing the overwhelming authority of Minoru UMEWAKA who was called one of 'three masters in Meiji' with Kuro HOSHO and Banma SAKURAMA, Kiyotaka who later returned to Tokyo did not have the power to control Umewaka family any more.

Independence and Return of Umewaka-ryu

Kiyokado, the 23rd who had succeeded the position from Kiyotaka did not have a successor, so Sakon Motoshige adopted from the Katayama family in Kyoto succeeded the position and became the 24th soke (the grand master) of Kanze-ryu. Around this time, the authority of the head family had returned to the original status; and although the family began to make a strong case against Minoru UMEWAKA, the second, about the issue of diploma, the negotiation was so tough as to made slow progress. Finally in 1921, the brothers Minoru UMEWAKA and Manaburo UMEWAKA and Kasetsu KANZE, the sixth of the branch family, became independent from Kanze-ryu and established Umewaka-ryu. This movement made a major impact on the world of Nohgaku. Those engaged in the three roles of Nohgaku (waki kata (supporting actor), people of hayashi kata (musical accompaniment played on traditional Japanese instruments) and kyogen kata (comic actor)) supported the head family and made an agreement not to appear on the stage of Umewaka-ryu. As Umewaka-ryu had difficulty continuing its activities because of the agreement, Manaburo and Kasetsu returned to Kanze-ryu first. In 1954 the new generation of Minoru UMEWAKA also returned to Kanze-ryu, thus Umewaka-ryu disappeared in 24 years.

Showa Period

Meanwhile, Motoshige KANZE was quite excellent at political skills. By taking advantage of the problem of Umewaka-ryu, he tried to unify the schools and extend the influence of Kanze-ryu. Also, he planned and published Taisei Utai-bon in order to unify the content of utai, which was different depending on each school.

From 1950's through 1960's, Noh actors of new generation, whose main contributors were Hisao Kanze who was a son of Gasetsu, Hideo KANZE and Shizuo KANZE, made great achievements in the areas such as performance, theory of techniques and playing opposite to players in different fields. Especially, Hisao was so excellent a performer as to be called a second coming of Zeami; there were many Noh actors affected by him, including Tetsunojo KANZE (the eighth) (Shizuo KANZE) and Kuroemon KATAYAMA (the ninth). After the death of Motoshige, Motomasa (Motoshige's son) succeeded the 25th soke (the grand master), and current soke is Kiyokazu, the 26th.

The Composition of Kanze-ryu

There are many distinguished families within Kanze-ryu as it is a big school, and it allows families having a certain family status (being an occupational branch family or higher) to train Noh actors unlike Hosho-ryu that has all the experts have training at soke (the head family). Because of these facts, there are several groups that have a different style of performance within the Kanze-ryu, and each group forms its own school. In terms of performance style, the Katayama family, the Hashioka family and other occupational family branches are close to soke. Meanwhile, the Tetsunojo KANZE family and the Yoshiyuki KANZE family are close to both Umewaka families. Following are the major groups within Kanze-ryu.

Kanze family head

The present head is Kiyokazu KANZE. Its authority extends to not only shite-kata (main roles) but also to hayashi-kata in Kanze-ryu. It also keeps the vacant position of the head family of hayashi-kata Morita-ryu.

The school of Tetsunojo KANZE

The present head is Tetsunojo KANZE, the ninth.
(His wife is Yachiyo INOUE, the fifth head of Inoue school.)
It presides over Tessenkai.
It holds a special position in the group next to Kanze-ryu as a 'branch family.'
In and after the Meiji Era, it has kept a close ties with Umewaka family, and the tie deeply affects its style of performance.

Yoshiyuki KANZE

It is also called the Yarai Kanze family. The present head is Yoshiyuki KANZE, the fourth. It presides over Kyukokai (an occupational branch family).
A branch family of Tetsunojo KANZE family
Since the first head was adopted by the Umewaka family, its style of performance is based on Umewaka style. It issues its special utaibon called 'The Reference Book of Noh Chants' (Nohgakushorin).

Umewawa family

the head family of Umewaka families. The present head is Rokuro UMEWAKA, the 56th. It presides over Umewaka kai (an occupational branch family). It has its own unique performance style called 'Umewaka gakari (Umewaka style), which has much more gorgeous and elaborate utai and performance style among Kanze-ryu which is characterized as to be gorgeous. The group issues its own utaibon called 'Creative Edition' (Nohgakushorin).

The family of Manaburo UMEWAKA

a branch family of Umewaka family
The present head is Manzaburo UMEWAKA, the third. It presides over Umewaka Ken-Noh-Kai (Research Society of Umewaka Noh) (an occupational branch family). It is a family that Manzaburo, who was the second Minoru UMEWAKA's senior brother, resuscitated. However, while it keeps the Umewaka style, it is said that the style of acting and manner has subtle difference from the head family.

The family of Kuroemon KATAYAMA

The family served official business of the Imperial Palace until the end of Edo period, and it is considered as the center of Kyokanze (the Kanze school in Kyoto). The present family head is Kuroemon KATAYAMA, the ninth. In recent years it has kept the close ties with Inoue-ryu of Kyomai (Kyo dance), and the third and after Yachiyo INOUE, the head of the Inoue family, has been Kuroemon KATAOKA's wife or daughter. And there have been some instances such that a Noh actor in the family of Kuroemon KATAYAMA in Kanze-ryu and a natori (a person given a diploma) got married. Currently it presides over Katayamake Nohgaku Kyobu hozon zaidan (the foundation of protecting the Katayama family's heritage of Noh-gaku and Kyobu dance).
Occupational Branch Families

The Hashioka family

It presides over Hashioka kai. The present family head is Kyutaro HASHIMOTO, the ninth.

The system to nurture the Noh actors

In the case of Kanze-ryu shite-kata (main roles of Kanze school), there are six ranks in professionals and quasi-professionals: soke, bunke, shokubun (occupational), jun shokubun (quasi-shokubun), shihan (instructor) and jun shihan (quasi-shihan). Among these ranks, the players of shihan and upper levels are registered as pure professionals at The Nohgaku Performers' Association.

Soke and bunke (the family of Tetsunojo KANZE family) are succeeded completely according to hereditary system. As for shokubun and jun shokubun, it has been almost decided by the hereditary system which family succeeds which profession.
(Among the families mentioned above, prestigious families such as the Yoshiyuki KANZE family, Kuroemon KATAYAMA family, and both Umewawa families are classified into shokubunke (occupational branch family), and other families that serve as professionals are classified into jun shokubun (quasi-occupational families).)
A professional, after apprenticeship, is usually given the rank of shihan or jun shokubun. However, a child of shokubunke, for example, starts with shihan, and after a certain period of time he will rise to the rank of shokubun or jun shokubun. Also, shokubunke has the privilege to train professionals by its own system. Shihan and jun shihan are not succeeded basically by hereditary system.

Soke and bunke (branch family) have the right to train their own successors. A successor to shokubunke is supposed to be apprenticed to soke or bunke to practice for five years. However, the successor cannot become a shokubun immediately after this period of apprenticeship. He is supposed to begin with a jun shokubun, and when he exceeds the age of 40, he is examined to become a shokubun. A child of jun shokubunke is supposed to be apprenticed to shokubunke for five years, and after that he will become a professional by recommendation of his master. In the case of a child of shihan, he does not need to be apprenticed to any.

Kotsuzumi-kata (small hand drum player)

Kotsuzumi-kata Kanze-ryu (Shinkuro KANZE-ryu) is the kotsuzumi-kata working in Kanze-za.

Hikozaemon Toyoji KANZE (1525-1585), who was a grandchild of Nobumitsu KANZE, was apprenticed to Yazaemon Chikakata (1482-1556) and established his school. Miyamasu was a family in charge of hand drum playing in each troupe of Yamato Sarugaku. In terms of tradition of the school, the school associates Nobutomo MIYAMASU, the first and Mino Gonnokami Yoshihisa, the second, and treats Chikakata as the third, Toyoji as the fourth.

Each generation named 'Shinkuro' of Miyamasu played actively as the head of kotsuzumi-kata working in Kanze-za in the Edo Period. But after the death of the 14th Shinkuro Toyonari, his son Toyoyoshi did not succeed the family. One of the disciples of the school Heiji YUASA (the 15th), who had held the position of the head temporarily, died early, and the position became vacant. After Meiji Restoration, Michihiro ISHIURA (the 16th) was adopted by the head family that had changed its family name into 'MIYAMASU' to resuscitate the family of Miyamasu, and his son Junzo MIYAMASU (the 17th, the current family head) succeeded the position.
Recently the head family changed its family name back to 'KANZE' again, Junzo is named 'Toyosumi KANZE' and his son Shinichiro 'Shinkuro.'
As a recent master, Junzo MIYAMASU's real elder brother Tetsuo SHIKIMURA is famous.

As of 2006, four players have been registered at The Nohgaku Performers' Association. All the players live in Tokyo, and its influence is not so strong. However, the school has strong characteristics in that it lacks the fifth kakegoe (call) in mitsuji (a Noh music rhythm where the beats of 3,5,7 are emphasized)), and uses a lot of "Kan" notes (a high pitched tune).


Otsuzumi-kata of Kanze-ryu (former name Renzaburo HOSHO school) is otsuzumi-kata working in Hosho-za.

Ryuso (the founder of the school) is Saburo Nobukata KANZE (1672-1718), the fourth son of Kotsuzumi-kata Kanze-ryu Toyoshige KANZE, the ninth (1672-1688). As otsuzumi had derived from rencho (a play performed by utai and a single percussion instrument in combination) of kotsuzumi, its independence was later than other hayashi kata (musician in Noh) groups.

In 1694, it was ordered by Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA who favored Hosho-ryu to work in Hosho-za, and it changed its family name to 'HOSHO.'
But in the case that the 3rd Nobuharu HOSHO did not have his successor, Renzaburo 豊羨, the third son of Kanze-ryu kotsuzumi-kata 豊綿 KANZE, the 13th was adopted into the family. It seems that the group kept the connection with kotsuzumi-kata in Kanze-ryu with respect to blood relationship and performance style.

With the circumstances mentioned above, it was not recognized as a school and called 'otsuzumi-kata Hosho-ryu of Renzaburo school' for a long time after the Meiji Restoration. But with activities by Kinjuro MORIYA in Okayama, it was recognized as a school in Kanze-ryu in 1986. At present, Yoshinori MORIYA, a grandson of Kinjuro, serves soke dairi (representation of head of family). Yoshinori is the only actor of the group registered at The Nohgaku Performers' Association as of 2006. But there is one shosei (a student who is given room and board in exchange for performing domestic duties) in the group, who appears in study groups of Osaka Nohgaku Yoseikai (Osaka Nohgaku Training Facility) and other Noh theaters. Its major regional base is in Kyoto and Osaka.

Taiko-kata (drum player)

Taiko-kata Kanze-ryu (another name, Sakichi KANZE-ryu) is taiko-kata working in Kanze-za.

Yoshiro Yoshikuni KANZE (1440-1493), a son of the 3rd shite-kata Kanze-ryu Otoami, apprenticed himself to Harutoyo KONPARU, the founder of Konparu-ryu taiko-kata, and founded the school. The performance style was succeeded by Yoshihisa HIGAIMOTO, the second, Kunitada HIGAIMOTO, the third and the master Jibayozaemon Kunihiro (?-1580), the fourth. They made great achievements by writing densho (books on the esoterica) and doing other activities.

After the sudden death of Yogoro, the fifth, Shigeie KONPARU (fifth) kept the iemoto (the head family of the school). Sakichi Shigetsugu (the seventh), a son of Shigeie, was adopted by the school and resuscitated the taiko-kata. At that time Shigetsugu was famous as a drum player and made many improvements in the techniques of drum playing including devising the stand (Sakichi dai) to put the drum; before the devising of the stand, the drum was held by hands of his disciples. During the Edo period, the school worked in Kanze-za and turned out many masters for generations. Especially Motomori KANZE, the 15th, was famed as the taiko-kata in Meiji era.

The present head of the Kanze-za is Motonobu KANZE, the 16th. The major regional area is Tokyo, and the number of actors registered at The Nohgaku Performers' Association is 16 as of 2006. Compared with Konparu-ryu, the way of handling bachi (drumstick) is linear and its tegumi (the rhythmic patterns of sound combinations of instrument and human voice) is rather quiet, and it is said that it keeps old style.

The number of Noh actors who belong to the association

The number of the actors who belong to Kanze-ryu, according to The Noh Association's list in 2005, is as follows.

shite-kata : 561

hayashi-kata, kotsuzumi: 7, otsuzumi: 1, taiko: 16

The relationship with Kyomai Inoue-ryu

Kanze-ryu has close relationship with Kyomai Inoue-ryu. Kuroemon KATAYAMA family and Tetsunojo KANZE family have had a close relationship with the successive Yachiyo INOUE.
(As for details, refer to the article of Yachiyo INOUE.)

[Original Japanese]