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Go behind the scenes of Japanese Noh theatre and learn about the craftsmanship of its striking wooden masks in this special talk and demonstration by master craftsman and mask maker Kitazawa Hideta.

Noh is a highly aesthetic classical Japanese theatre style featuring dance, music and poetry which developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Delicately carved by hand from blocks of hinoki (Japanese cypress), masks play an important role in Noh theatre; representing its host of human and supernatural characters from warriors and monks to kami (spirits or deities) and monsters. At first glance, these masks appear to have a seemingly neutral expression, however, they can convey a powerful range of emotions. It is the role of the actor to reveal the hidden emotions carved into the masks, using skillful and subtle tilting movements of the head to adjust the play of light and shadow on the wooden face.

In this event, master mask maker Kitazawa Hideta gives a demonstration of the techniques used to craft these masks, while discussing their history and role in Noh theatre.

This event is organized under the auspices of the 'Getting to Noh' education and outreach programme of the Between the Stones Project; an official programme of the Japan-UK Season of Culture. The main touring programme presents rare performances of Noh in London on 29 and 31 January 2020 at the Southbank Centre. Kitazawa’s hand-carved masks can be seen in action during these performances.

For information on tickets for performances please visit the Southbank Centre website. For more information about the Between the Stones Project see

About Kitazawa Hideta

Kitazawa Hideta has been making masks for both classical and contemporary Noh for more than two decades. Kitazawa is also a Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple woodcarver, following in the footsteps of his father, woodcarver Kitazawa Ikkyō. In 1991, after graduating from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Forestry Studies, Kitazawa undertook intensive woodcarving studies with his father and began the study of Noh mask-making. In recent years, he has given numerous international mask-making demonstrations and his work has been exhibited widely. His masks can currently be found in the permanent collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Durham University Oriental Museum and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia.


Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-2020 at Japan House London