Ko school (幸流)

The Ko school is one of the schools of kotsuzumi-kata (small hand drum players) in Nohgaku (the art of Noh). It used to be called Kogorojiro school. Also, the otsuzumi-kata (large hand drum players) performers used to have a school called Ko school (see Itoku school).

According to the story handed down to the Ko family, the family served Emperor Gohanazono as Hokumen no bushi (the Imperial Palace Guards for the north side), and later Masatada KO became a tsure (an associate actor) in the Konparu school of Noh under the name of 'Uji Ko dayu,' but in fact, it is said that an actor of Sarugaku (a form of theater) troupe in Uji joined the Konparu troupe as a tsure and hayashikata (people who play hayashi, or the musical accompaniment) after he lost his influence. There were four Sarugaku troupes in Uji - Ko, Fujiwaka, Umematsu (梅松) and Shugiku (守菊) - but they were abolished between 1532 and 1554, and Masatada's son, Shirojiro Tadayoshi studied under Chikakata MIYAMASU, who was a master of kotsuzumi, learned Noh from Zenpo KONPARU, and then played an active part in the Konparu troupe.

After Miyamasu died with no successor, Tadayoshi became the originator of the Ko school of kotsuzumi-kata, separately from his senior pupil, Toyotsugu KANZE (the originator of the kotsuzumi-kata Kanze school). His son, the second head of the school, Gorojiro Masayoshi was a well known master of kotsuzumi and he wrote "Ko Masayoshi Kudensho" (a book on his skill). After Masayoshi, since his grandson, Seijiro Satoyoshi (清次郎了能) was too young to succeed, his second son, Kozaemon Kazumune (小左衛門一宗) assumed the third headship of the Ko school, and later Satoyoshi started the Ko Seijiro family (Kosei school) separately.

In the Edo period, the head family of the school belonged exclusively to the Konparu school, and furthermore, the Ko Seigoro family, which Kazumune's second son started, also flourished by performing exclusively for the Hosho school. Once the Itoku school of otsuzumi-kata became part of the Ko school by performing as ashirai tsuzumi (accompanying hand drum), which was also called Ko school. During the last days of the Edo period, the 12th head Masakazu had a dispute over succession with his brother-in-law, Seifu (正孚), and together with the decline of Nohgaku after the Meiji Restoration, it became one of the causes of the decline of the authority of the head family of the school, but the tradition of the school was preserved by senior pupils, Shuzaburo IKOMA, Kingo MISU (general director of entertainment for a while) and others. In the head family, as the 15th did not have a successor, Misu's grandson, Goro was adopted and succeeded to lead the school. He was the 16th head Yoshimitsu KO, who was well known as a master player before and after the war.

The school is characterized by the differentiation of five different sounds, which are called "po," "pu," "ta," "chi," and "tsu" and also by fewer complicated playing methods. They are based mainly in Tokyo and Kyoto, and there are over 20 players who are registered with the Nohgaku Performers' Association. The present head of the school is the 17th, Masakage KO.

[Original Japanese]