Noh Actor (能楽師)

Those who perform Noh plays as a profession are called the Noh actors or Noh performers.

Noh actors are divided into shite-kata (main actors), waki-kata (supporting actors), kyogen-kata (farce actors) and hayashi-kata (musicians; further divided into fue-kata [flute players], kotsuzumi-kata [small hand drum players], otsuzumi-kata [large hand drum players] and taiko-kata [drum players]) according to their roles, the last three of which are collectively called the sanyaku (three roles). Each role has different styles, and one actor never plays multiple roles.

(Refer to the Noh Roles and Noh Schools for more details.)
The term 'kyogen actor,' which is sometimes used in parallel with 'noh actor,' should be properly called 'noh actor of kyogen-kata' since the kyogen is originally one of the categories of noh plays.

Qualifications for professional noh actors differ from school to school, but all the schools of each noh role now agree to make those professional actors they approved, register for the Nohgaku Performers' Association. Thus, noh actors are actually recognized as professionals with the membership to the Nohgaku Performers' Association. There is also the Association for Japanese Noh Plays, which organized by the members of the Nohgaku Performers' Association who are acknowledged to have a certain level of ability. The Association for Japanese Noh Plays is generally authorized as the Important Intangible Cultural Property 'Noh,' and noh actors admitted to the Association for Japanese Noh Plays are considered to be the general holder of the Important Intangible Cultural Property.

In addition, some people who give lessons on noh songs to amateurs and so on receive certain qualifications from schools, such as the honorary master (shite-kata of Kanze school) or the commissioned instructor (shite-kata of Hosho school), but these qualifications are nothing more than for nonprofessionals and do not allow the holders to be recognized as the professionals (noh actors) in the world of noh.