Hanayorimo Hananogotoku (花よりも花の如く)

"Hanayorimo Hananogotoku" (More Flower-like Than Flowers) is a manga about Noh (traditional masked dance-drama) by Minako NARITA. This manga appeared serially in "Monthly Melody" in 2001, but the magazine changed into a bimonthly magazine called "MELODY" in 2006 while the manga was still being serialized.

Summary

"Hanayorimo Hananogotoku" is a spin-off work featuring Norito SAKAKIBARA (his real name is 'Norito,' but he is usually referred to as 'Kento' in the work) as a main character who is a Nohgakushi (a Noh actor) and the older brother of Saimon SAKAKIBARA who appeared in the same author's previous manga "NATURAL." After the completion of "NATURAL," "Hanayorimo Hananogotoku" and "Tenno Hibiki" (Hear in Heaven) were drawn as side stories, and then the "Hanayorimo Hananogotoku" series was officially started.

When Norito appeared in the side story for the first time, he was on the verge of becoming a private pupil, but in "Futen," published in an the second volume of an independent book, he had gone through the period of practicing to be a private pupil and had become independent as a kuroto (an expert) of Nohgakushi. This manga depicts the daily lives of people living in Nohgaku (the art of Noh) circles and the changes of heart they have as young Nohgakushi belonging to the Sohu Association.

The Characters

Nohgakushi of the Aiba family
Norito SAKAKIBARA
The main character
A shite-kata Nohgakushi (a Noh actor with a main role)
He began practicing Noh as a ko-kata (a child's part in a Noh dance) when he was two years old, and when he was twenty-two years old, he became a private pupil of Sojuro AIBA. His hatsu-shite (debut as a shite-kata) is "Tsunemasa." He performs "Shakkyo" (Stone Bridge) in the third volume and "Shojo Midare" (The Disorderly Tipster Sprite) in the fifth volume, each for the first time. He is a grandchild of Sojuro AIBA's daughter who married into another family.

The origin of his name is the Japanese word 'Norito,' which refers to Shinto ritual prayer.
For some reason, all the people around him, including his family, always call him 'Kento,' the Chinese reading of the kanji for 'Noribito.'

He is basically a gentle person, but when he tells silly and pointless jokes with a serious face, it indicates an aspect of his character that he is not just out-and-out serious. He has a peculiarity about lying on his back and adopting a posture with his legs stretched straight upward to the ceiling when speculating about the character of a role.

The features of his face are not so bad in appearance, but he is more simple and inconspicuous than his younger siblings, such as Saimon and Saiki. Perhaps because he wears glasses, he has been called 'Nobita' (the name of a timid boy who appears in 'Doraemon' comics and is always aided by Doraemon) by Saimon.

He also like to practice Kyudo (the Japanese art of archery).

Sojuro AIBA
Nohgakushi
Real name: Hiroto AIBA
Born: 1925
A shite-kata and a person with responsibilities in the arts of the Sohu Association
Norito's maternal grandfather
On page 122 of the second volume he performs in a Noh play titled "Yoro" (Longevity Springs) in the style of 'Suiha no Den,' which is a Kogaki (a variant performance, or special staging) of the Kanze-ryu school, inferring that he belongs to the Kanze-ryu school.

When training his pupils, he sometimes gets so excited that he hits them.

He has two children. His first-born daughter Saeko married into the Sakakibara family and gave birth to three children, Norito, Saimon, and Saiki. His first-born son Takuto is a Nohgakushi.

Takuto AIBA
Born: 1949
A shite-kata Nohgakushi belonging to the Sohu Association and Norito's first master. The style of his performance is daring and stirring but he does not lapse into rudeness. His first-born son is Kaito.

Kaito AIBA
Born: 1989
A ko-kata belonging to the Sohu Association. He trains himself for Nohgakushi even though he has other things to worry about.

Nohgakushi belonging to the Sohu Association
Naotsugu WATARAI
A Nohgakushi in the same generation as Takuto. Although everybody tries to stay away from him due to his extremely serious and sincere nature, he is respected for his attitude toward the arts.

Naozumi WATARAI
A son of Naotsugu WATARAI
Lives in Renjaku as a private pupil training himself
He goes to a university in Kyoto to get away from his strict father, not becoming interested in Noh until he watches 'Koi no Omoni' (The Burden of Love) performed by Sojuro as a shite and Norito as a tsure (a shite's companion) in New York, and then decides to be a Nohgakushi. Since he became a pupil of Sojuro AIBA after graduating from his university, he is a junior disciple to Gaku even though he is older.

He is proficient in English and a modern-day child with a quick wit. He is also a rational thinker, as shown when he points out without hesitation that there is no standardized way to store kazariobi (sashes) among the disciples of Sojuro.

He appears to be as interested in Saiki as Gaku, implied by the manner in which he actively speaks to her whenever he gets a chance. He also shows his obedient side when he decides to start wearing contact lenses after Norito says to him, "You have cute eyes."

Gaku MORISAWA
Junior disciple to Norito
Lives in Renjaku as a private pupil training himself. His father is also a Nohgakushi named Riku MORISAWA who belongs to the Sohu Association. After his days as a ko-kata, he moves to Nara and stays away from Noh, but after finishing senior high school he returns to Tokyo and becomes a private pupil. His hair is naturally brown. He dyed his hair black to conceal his brown hair while he wa a ko-kata, but various circumstances made him decide to keep his natural hair color while he was in junior high school. Although it becomes a heavily debated topic when he tries to begin a career as a Nohgakushi, more and more people slowly begin to accept him.

He is reticent and quiet in character, has a touch of natural dementia and a tendency to do things at his own pace. His small vocabulary combined with his natural dementia often leads him to saying things or answering questions off the point. On the other hand, he is good at sensing other peoples' feelings and acting accordingly.

He also has a mysterious ability which allows him to sense the 'thought' a person had while they were in a certain place.

There are also hints that he is interested in Saiki.

Yoichi IGARASHI
One of the younger Nohgakushi and Norito's senior.
He organized an association of the younger Nohgakushi with Honen MIYAMOTO, Ko SHIROISHI and others called the 'Gyoko Association.'

Yasutaka ISHII
A Nohgakushi belonging to the Sohu Association. A junior disciple to Norito and a senior disciple to Gaku and Naozumi.

Kuritaro IWAMURA
A ko-kata and son of 'IWAMURA-san' (Mr. IWAMURA), a Nohgakushi belonging to the Sohu Association. A mysterious boy with abilities such as using his sense of foreboding to paint pictures of things that occur later on in real life and hands that have the ability to cure baldness.

The Other Nohgakushi
Honen MIYAMOTO
A Kyogen (farce played during a Noh cycle) performer.
His real name is Yoshitoshi and Yoichi calls him 'Toshi-chan.'
He appears on dramas on television as well, so he is widely known. He has a mischievous side as well, as shown by the jokes he plays on Norito with a straight face, such as phoning Norito from a hotel during his journey to South Korea and assuming the name of 'IGARASHI' (it is not known if he assumed the name of Ichisuke or Yoichi). As a side note, the episode about a mischievous telephone call is a true story based on the actions of a real Nohgakushi.
He is a member of the 'Gyoko Association.'

Hiroya SAKAMOTO
Norito's childhood friend and a younger waki-kata (a supporting actor) on whom Norito places the biggest trust.

Ko SHIROISHI
A fue-kata (one with the role of playing the flute).
A member of the 'Gyoko Association.'
Honen's childhood friend who often takes care of (interferes with?) him.

Ichisuke IGARASHI
Regarded as 'an authority of hayashi-kata' (those who play hayashi or musical accompaniment).
He seems to be Hiroto AIBA's childhood friend, as evidenced by their relationship being close enough to call each other 'I-chan' and 'So-chan.'
He was bereaved of his wife several years ago. He was so deeply affiliated with the Sohu Association that he accompanied their performance to New York. His blood relationship with Yoichi IGARASHI is not clearly expressed.

The Other Characters
Saimon SAKAKIBARA
Although he is Norito's younger brother, he was adopted into his uncle's family in Aomori when he was five years old. The origin of his name is the Japanese word 'saimon' which refers to an address to the gods. He is a Shinto priest and currently in University Graduate School in Tokyo. His aim is to obtain the license of a beautician after graduation. During a wedding ceremony in which Saimon participated as one of he Shinto priests, the bride cancelled the ceremony that was already underway upon recognizing Saimon as her former lover, resulting in Saimon's father becoming so angry that he stopped sending him allowance money and Saimon moving in with his real parents. Due to the bride's unrequited love, this former girlfriend of Saimon never appears again.

Saiki SAKAKIBARA
Norito and Saimon's younger sister and a college student. She likes to practice Kyudo. The origin of her name is the Japanese word 'saiki,' which refers to equipment used in rituals.
In a conversation with her friends, Saiki says, "Today, I will go shopping with Grandma for shosei" (shosei are students who are given room and board in exchange for performing domestic duties; in this case equivalent to private pupils), to which her surprised friends respond, "When on earth did you start living as a young lady?"

Hazuki MIYAMOTO
Honen's younger sister, jazz pianist and actress. Set to appear in a television drama with Norito.

The Sohu Association
An organization performing Noh plays with Sojuro AIBA in charge of the art. The present head of the family is Hiroto AIBA. In the generation prior to Hiroto, the family head of Sojuro was Mahito (born in 1899), and in the generation prior to that it was Nagomu (born in 1875). While Nagomu was the family head, the Sojuro family moved its foothold from Akashi to Tokyo, and in 1928 organized the Sohu Association. They own a home and a Noh theater called 'Ranjaku Noh Butai' (Renjaku Noh Stage) in Kanda (Awajicho), Chiyoda Ward.

When Renjaku Noh Butai was first built in 1930, Nagomu and Mahito performed the dance called 'Shakkyo' for the opening of the stage.

The Sojuro AIBA Family
An old Nohgakushi family that has been succeeded from the Edo period; to show how old it is, the author illustrates a scene with calligraphy works by a 'Sojuro' of each generation. They organized the family gathering called the 'Sohu Association' for their activities. As mentioned above, there are descriptions which imply the Kanze-ryu school, a family who takes private pupils, so it is possible to infer that it is one of the occupational branch families of the Kanze-ryu school.

While the family head for the next generation is Hiroto's son Takuto, it is uncertain if Norito or Kaito will be the family head after Takuto. As Hiroto's lines on page 68 of the second volume predict in 'Okina-tsuki Yoro' (Longevity Springs with an Old Man), Norito will perform the shite 48 years later, meaning that it is possible that Norito will succeed the family name. On page 26 of the fifth volume, on the other hand, Kaito says, "If I give up Noh, there will be nobody but Norito to succeed to Sojuro," meaning that it is also possible that Kaito will become the family head after Takuto.

Additional Information

The editorial supervisor of this work is Tetsunojo KANZE (the ninth), who is also the model of Takuto AIBA appearing in the manga, and Tetsunojo KANZE's wife named Yachiyo INOUE (the fifth), appears as the master of the main character under her real name in "Kuro Tsubaki" by Masumi KAWASO, which is serialized in the same magazine "MELODY."

This manga was taken up by the program called "Manga no Genba," broadcasted on November 6, 2007 (NHK Satellite 2nd Television), where the author's obsessiveness about drawing was introduced, such as making the screentones on her own by using the patterns of kimono (Japanese traditional clothing).