Zeshi rokuju igo Sarugaku dangi (世子六十以後申楽談儀)

Zeshi rokuju igo Sarugaku dangi (also known as "Sarugaku dangi") was established in the Muromachi Period, which is a written record on Zeami's discourse about the art and has been handed down from ancestors as a collection of art treatises on Nohgaku.


In November, 1430, Motoyoshi KANZE who was the second son of Zeami and taiko yakusha (drum player) at Kanzeza troupe wrote down what had been told by his father and presented it to his father Zeami. As 'Zeshi (the honorific title of Zeami) rokuju igo (after 60 years old)' indicates, the book was to pass Zeami's theory of Noh after he had handed over his position of KANZE dayu to his first son Motomasa KANZE and entered the priesthood when he was 60.

As it is discribed later, unlike other densho, it was not written by Zeami himself. Also, because it is a dictation of what Zeami said as it is, there are many parts whose meanings are difficult to grab and understand. So, up until now quite a few words or phrases in the book have been discussed over their interpretation. Since it is a collection of valuable direct discourse based on Zeami's real experience, however, it is regarded as valuable as the book by Zeami himself or more. In addition, it is an essential book to know the performing art in Medieval Period in Japan.

The background of the establishment

Zeami, who had succeeded Kanzeza troupe from his father, took the art of dengaku and Omi sarugaku, his rivals, into his sarugaku. Making use of the knowledge on aristocratic culture, he acquired through waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and Japanese classics, he devoted his life to establishing 'sarugaku' in both the aspects of art and theory. As a result, in 1399 he had the honor of performing kanjin sarugaku for three days under the auspices of Shogun Yoshimistu ASHIKAGA, at which point he reached the pinnacle of the performing arts world. And the next year, he wrote "Fushikaden (the Flowering Spirit), the first theory book on the Noh in history.

Zeami entered priesthood in 1422 when he was about 60. And later on, while he was taking the important position in the world of sarugaku, he was actively engaged in instructing Noh actors in the next generation including Motomasa (his successor), his nephew Motoshige (Onami), Zenchiku KONPARU (his son-in-law) and Motoyoshi(the writer of "Sarugaku dangi"). For the purpose of accomplishing it, he wrote densho (books handed down from ancestors) such as "Kyoka, "Shikado" and "Sando" in order to consolidate the succession of his Noh theory and the prosperity of his troupe. As mentioned above, "Sarugaku dangi" deals with Zeami's discourse about Noh performance in this period, that is, when he was 60 through 68.

Kanzeza troupe looked stable having acquired the excellent successors. In 1428, when Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA died and his younger brother Yoshinori ASHIKAGA took the shogunate position, Yoshinori's favor was poured only into Onami, and Zeami and his son Motomasa came to be exposed to strong pressure. In 1429, the previous year of the establishment of "Sarugaku dangi", the Zeami and his son were forced to cancel their performance at Sento Imperial Palace. And the next year, they were deprived of their Gakuto shiki (right to play sarugaku) in Daigoji Temple, Kiyotakimiya Shrine.

Motoyoshi, Zeami's second son, despaired of the situation and in the end decided to give up the art and enter the priesthood and live in seclusion. It was "Sarugaku dangi" that he wrote as the words of leaving the civil world. As the proof that he had not neglected his father's teaching, he compiled the discourse from his father into a book and presented it to his father. And he bid forever farewell to his father and the art of Noh.

In addition, in 1432, the following year, KANZE dayu Motomasa died in Ise Province on a trip, and the next year he was taken away the position of KANZE dayu by Onami. Meanwhile, Zeami was exiled to Sado Island and died never to come back to the front stage.

It seems, however, that Motoyoshi joined Ochi KANZE, helping Motomasa's bereaved child Juro dayu, and returned to the world of the art.

What is sarugaku?

What is told at the beginning of the book is the claim that sarugaku (猿楽) is 'sarugaku (申楽), which means that it is kagura (sacred music and dancing performed at shrines). Therefore, what should be set at the center of sarugaku is dancing and songs, not the art of mimic. So, it says at the first part of the book that 'Nikyoku Santai (Two performances; songs and dance, and three roles; senior men, women, and warriors) should be practiced, using the quotation from the books in the past.

Pioneers of Noh

The following part deals with 'Todo no senzo' or the explanation about the style of performance of Noh pioneers. This part includes Icchu, Kia (Kiami), Zeami, Zoami, Doami of Omi Sarugaku and Kanami (father of Motoyoshi KANZE). The players who were called master are named in this part whether they belonged to Dengaku or Sarugaku. It is known that Zeami 'stole' the art from the pioneers, making use of their art. Zeami's memories of his childhood that he had heard about Icchu from Doyo SASAKI who died before he met Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, and that he saw the Kia's stage when he was twelve years old are also interesting.

Performance and Music

Mentioned above is considered as the introduction. And following part consists of 31 sections in which full account of instructions in performing and creating Noh are given, mentioning the particular examples.

In Section 1, advice is given on delicate movements in performing Noh with the examples of Zoami. In Section 2, instructions are written on how to have the audience feel the taste and elegance with examples of the particular music pieces. Section 3 is on instructions on 'kokorone (feelings), that is, how to express the words of yokyoku (Noh song), also giving the examples of the particular music pieces. In this section, there are some interesting episodes; there was conflict of opinion with Motomasa over a Noh program "Sumidagawa River", and when Zeami was playing opposite to Enami of Settsu Sarugaku, he outwitted Enami by deliberately stopping the performing, and the like. Section 4 explains the various ranks in Noh, and Section 5 explains interjections made during a Noh performance.
From Section 6 through 13 is occupied by the explanation about Noh music
The sections explain in detail music of shugen (celebration), kakari utai (chanting of a Noh text), namari (accent), hyoushi (beat) and kurai (rank), telling the rival's episodes.

Writing Noh

From Section 14 through 16 is about sakuno (writing Noh). As Zeami said 'Writing Noh book is the life of Noh.' in "Fushikaden," Zeami put great importance on writing Noh. The author of this book (" Sarugaku dangi"), Motoyoshi was given densho (the book of esoterica) "Sando" whose main theme is on how to write Noh. And it is estimated that he was often given instructions from Zeami on sakuno. In Section 14, he gave a review on the Zeami's works in the past with the summary of "Sando." It is written in the section that again here Zeami was confident his works after Oei era (1394-1427). Section 15 is instructions on how to write Noh including the theme of composition. It does not make any sense if the piece which seems to have a good plot on sentences does not match the actual performance, and much weight must be placed on resonance of words and sentences and their meanings must be concise…etc. The section includes practical instructions from Zeami, which indicate that they are more like him who wrote many works.
Section 16 is valuable because it contains instructions in sakuno and the introduction of the authors of works mentioned in "Sando"

Okinamai (dance of an old man) and Noh masks

Section 17 is about specific instructions on the stage and sajiki (reviewing stand) of kanjin sarugaku
And the specific descriptions about Shiki Sanban (The Three Rituals) are seen in this section. In the section, it is described that in the performance of Imakumano tayu (leading actor in a Noh play) of the troupe performed Okinamai for the first time in history and at that moment Okinamai itself transformed. And it is also described that by the time when "Sarugaku dangi" was written, Okinamai in original form was rarely played. Section 18 is about Noh costume, and Section 19 about detailed instructions on Noh masks. In Section 20, masters of fue (Japanese flute) and kyogen (farce played during a Noh play cycle) are listed. In section 21, the troupes of Yamato Sarugaku that were not allowed in the capital such as Konparuza, Kongoza and Juniza, are introduced. Section 22 is about Noh masks and mask creators. It is the most valuable literature about mask creators.

The origin of each Sarugaku troupe

Section 23 is about the origin of sarugaku troupe. Including the story about Kanami's birth, the section is the basic historical material to seek the origin of the troupes, related to the Noh, needless to say about KANZE troupe.
It is also mentioned here that 'do' in the name of Doami was bestowed by Yoshimitsu after his homyo (a Buddhist name given to a person who has died or has entered the priesthood), and that it was also Yoshimitsu that ordered to read the Chinese character '世' as 'ze.'
Section 24 is the tale of miraculous efficacy about Zeami. Section 25 is about dengaku (a style of dancing and music originally performed at agricultural festivals), and Section 26 is about matsubayashi (performance to celebrate the new year). Section 27 and 28 is about Kofukuji Temple takigi Noh (firelight Noh, performed by the light of torches or bonfires) for which Yamatoyoza (four sarugaku performance groups in the Yamato Province) had obligation to perform regularly. Section 29 is about the things that the actors should bear in mind every day. Section 30 is about the necessity of structured practice, and Section 31 is about notices on services for Shinto rituals.

The main part ends with 31sections as mentioned above. And as a supplement, the rules of Yukiza troupe set in Kanami era are added, and oral transcription that seems to be the draft exists in the form of extra book.

At the end of the book, Motoyoshi added farewell waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and ge (Buddhist poem) that wrap up the book to his father and mother.

Shahon (manuscript)

Zeami's books were originally the books of inherited secret teaching written 'for the art of Noh and for the family' ("Fushikaden"), and the books did not meet the people's eyes for even more than 400 years. In 1907 the books were reprinted and published by Togo YOSHIDA, and they came to be known to the public.

Similarly, "Sarugaku dangi" had been kept secretly at Ochi Kanzeza troupe where Motoyoshi, the direct descendants of Zeami and the author of the book, also joined. However, the family line of Ochi KANZE came to an early end, and the densho began to spread to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, the KANZE family head and Daimyo families (feudal lord family).

In addition, the oral transcription mentioned above that seems to be the draft is attached to the existing "Sarugaku dangi." The attachment is not included in the original book by Motoyoshi, and it is assumed that in relatively early period the attachment was added. The manuscript in the form of oral transcription written by Sosetsu KANZE exists in KANZE head family.

Described below are the main shahon known to the public now.

Horibon (the Hori version)

The version was passed down in Hori family of a daimyo. In Hori family there existed other densho besides Horibon, and they were reprinted as the original text for "Zeami jyuroku bushu" by Togo YOSHIDA. But only "Sarugaku dangi" was reprinted based on Kosugibon (Kosugi version) described below as the original text, and from Horibon only Section 29 and following parts and main match-ups were reprinted.

The Horibon belongs to the different lineage from Tanehikobon (Tanehiko version) described below, and it was the only kanbon (complete edition) of "Sarugaku dangi "that existed until modern times. It is estimated that it was the shahon in early Edo period, and evaluated that it was probably the best book to tell the original text of "Sarugaku dangi." It was stored in Matsunoyabunko (the library of Matsunoya) of Yasuda Zaibatsu, but it was destroyed in the fire in the Great Kanto Earthquake.

Tanehikobon (the Tanehiko version)

A manuscript in the late Muromachi Period that lacks Section 29 and following parts

As is described above, it is estimated that many of the Zeami's densho were succeeded by Ochi KANZE troupe led by Ochi KANZE Juro dayu, who was the grandson of Zeami. However, soon after the death of Juro dayu, Ochi KANZE troupe failed, then Ochi Motohiro KANZE, the sixth KANZE dayu, had his eldest son Juro revive the troupe and succeed the heritage of the old Ochi KANZE.

This Juro stayed in Suruga Province to escape from maelstrom of war in the Period of Warring States (Japan) and was found favor by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. That led to Juro's presenting "Sarugaku dangi" to Ieyasu who loved Noh. This book is what is called Tanehikobon later. The book seems to have been possessed by the Shogunate family for some time. However, it was scattered and lost for some reason.

And during Bunsei era, Tanehiko RYUTEI, a popular novelist, found an old book in a secondhand book store. It was the book possessed by Ieyasu. Tanehiko recognized its value and bought it, and let his fellow men of literature copy it by handwriting.
This is why the manuscript is called 'Tanehikobon.'

Later the manuscript was handed down to Chusai SHIBUE, who is well-known by the novel written by Ogai MORI. After that, Tanehikobon that was stored in Matsunoyabunko in a similar way as Horibon seemed to have safe refuge. However, soon it was destroyed in a fire in the Great Kanto Earthquake.

Although Tanehikobon does not exist as is mentioned above, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA had some of the sukisha daimyo (tea masters daimyo) such as Yusai HOSOKAWA and Nobutada ODA copy it, and the manuscript KANZE head family stored was the one that Sosetsu KANZE copied from what the daimyo had copied. Therefore, all the existing manuscripts, except the Horibon mentioned above, belong to the lineage of this Tanehikobon. When it was reprinted by Togo YOSHIDA, important match-ups were listed at the end of the book.

Hanawabon (the Hanawa version)

Owned by Tokyo University of the Arts. It is also called Wagaku kodanshabon (the Wagaku Kodansha version). Though its origin and history is not clearly known, it seems to be the precise tracing of Tanehikobon. It keeps the original appearance of Tanehikobon, but there are many errors because of tracing. It was passed down to successively in Hanawa family, and seems to be what Tanehiko RYUTEI said that it was the book stored by Hokiichi HANAWA in his library.

Harumurabon (the Harumura version)

Owned by the Noh Theater Researh Institute of Hosei University. There are Yoshinori Yamamotobon (the Yoshinori Yamamoto version) which is the copy of Hanawabon mentioned above, and Fukuoryubon (the Fukuoryu version) which is the copy of Yamamotobon. And Jusei (the tenth generation) Sagidenuemonbon (the Sagidenuemon version) is the copy of Fukuoryubon, and Harumurabon is the copy of Sagidenuemonbon by Harumura KUROKAWA in 1852. It is the book copied many times, but it is considered useful because in 1854 Harumura borrowed Tanehikobon from Chusai SHIBUE and proof-read his version based on it.

Kosugibon (the Kosugi version)

Kosugibon is the original text of the reprint by Togo YOSHIDA. It was the most popular version of manuscript of "Sarugaku dangi" until 1950's. It is said that Kosugibon is the book copied by Sugimura KOSUGI during Ansei era from the manuscript owned by Harumura KUROKAWA. But the manuscript was probably the different book from Harumurabon.

Matsuibon (the Matsui version)

Owned by Seikado Bunko Art Museum
Matsuibon was copied by Butsuan NAKAMURA, a calligrapher, from Tanehikobon and was named after the owner, Kanji MATSUI..

Kanzebon, Nukigakibon (the extraction of the Kanze version)

Owned by Kanze family head
This was copied by Seventh dayu Sosetsu (Mototada) KANZE from Tanehikobon. The part of Section 1 through 16 was copied, but following part was cancelled. There are many rewritings and typographical errors by him. In addition, Sosetsu made manuscript of extras from the part he had not copied. The copy also still exists.

Yusaibon (the Yusai version)

Yusaibon was copied by Yusai HOSOKAWA from Tanehikobon he had borrowed in 1595 from Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. The original text of the manuscript itself by Yusai was scattered and lost. But there is the copy of the manuscript called Kozanbon, which is one of 'Hosokawa jubu densho' owned by Kozan Bunko Library, and there is also a manuscript called Konparubon owned by Hozanji Temple.


As is mentioned above, the book of "Sarugaku dangi" was exposed to the public for the first time after it was reprinted and published by Togo YOSHIDA in 1908. Although this reprint contributed to having the public know its existence, it lacks preciseness because it used Kosugibon for the original text, Tanehikobon and Horibon for correction and Horibon for the parts of from Section 29 through 31 that lack in Kosugibon. And when the reprint was included in "Zeami juroku bushu," there were many typographical errors. Asaji NOSE used Matsuibon as the original text and Kanzebon for match-ups when he wrote "Zeami juroku bushu hyoshaku (exegesis)." Kazuma KAWASE used Hanawabon and referred to the reprint in 1908 that has less typographical errors when he wrote "Zeami nijusan bushu." After the World War II, in "Sarugaku dangi" and "Zeami and Zenchiku" of the Iwanami bunko version, the attempt to restore the original text was made, referring to each manuscript.