Ryugi (流儀)

Ryugi (style)
"Ryugi" represents groups of people in Japanese performing arts and martial arts, each formed based on differences from other groups in techniques, approaches, purposes of expression, interpretation of arts to be expressed and so forth in one field of the arts. Ryugi also directly means the concept and attitude the group embraces toward the art. Ryugi means almost the same as "Ryuha" (school). This article explains this term.

The term "ryugi" is extended from the meaning described in the above, to mean figuratively one's own approach for doing a certain thing.

Basically, since ryugi is established in the iemoto system in arts (the system of licensing the teaching of a traditional Japanese art), refer to the articles relevant to the iemoto system for information about fields of arts which include ryugi.

To put it simply, ryugi is not one person's techniques for doing a certain thing (such as how to fight against enemies and how to perform a play) which last only in his lifetime, but fellowship in which a group of people traditionally share techniques based on a certain art theory. Theories greatly differ among the respective schools, and include broad variation in each field of art. For example, in case of Noh, schools have differences in music, songs used in dramas, interpretation of dramas, tones and ideas for dances, selection of costumes, and so on. As understood from this, in the case of Noh, all of the Noh schools share the art of Noh while they differ in techniques for performing Noh dramas, from which each ryugi can be said to originate. Such a trend can be observed in all fields of art and techniques in all countries. Ryugi is unique in that the differences from other schools are fixed to some degree and handed down as traditions within the group, while, for example, in western classical music of modern age and thereafter, differences in interpretation of music are considered to be only "personal".

Ryugi as a system basically consists of two elements. One is uniformity in the art style of each ryugi and the other is existence of the group of people who actually preserve and carry on the style. Iemoto (the head family of a school) exists as an authority which should monitor both the former, the artistic aspect, and the latter, the institutional aspect, in order to ensure that both may last long. Therefore, iemoto or an entity equivalent thereto (such as organizations like shokubunkai (gathering of a school's occupational branch family)) is indispensable for the ryugi system. Thus, ryugi cannot be explained without referring to the iemoto system.

Anyone that invents novel and remarkable techniques in a field can establish a ryugi in which he or she is iemoto.

In some fields, however, such an action is not easy in reality, while in other fields it is relatively easy. For example, when Umewaka-ryu was established as a ryugi of shite-kata (main roles) in Noh, waki-kata (supporting actors) and hayashi-kata (players for musical accompaniment), sympathizing with the five conventional styles of shite-kata, refused to costar or play with Umewaka-ryu, forcing the new ryugi to give up performing any Noh play, and thus Umewaka-ryu's attempt to establish a new branch school ended in failure. In some fields where the absolute number of lay disciples who support the economic foundation of the iemoto system is small, attempts to establish new branch schools are often stymied for financial reasons. Conversely, in fields where no cooperation with other fields is necessary and the number of lay disciples is large, a new branch is easy to establish and in fact, it is safe to say that the fields of buyo (dance) and kado (flower arrangement) include a myriad of ryugi schools.

When one ryugi is further divided into small groups by differences in techniques, each of such small groups is called "ha" (faction). It can be said that what status (for example, authorized to issue a license) each ha can occupy varies widely depending on the field to which it belongs.

[Original Japanese]