The Sengoro SHIGEYAMA family (茂山千五郎家)

The Sengoro SHIGEYAMA family is one of the most famous families in Kyogen (a comic interlude performed during a Noh program) and their Kyogen style belongs to that of the Okura-ryu school. Residents of Kyoto for many generations, the family has performed mainly in the Kansai area, but in recent years, they have enjoyed an increasing amount of exposure in the media and expanded their sphere of activities across the country. The present family head is the 13th Sengoro SHIGEYAMA (his real name is Masayoshi).

Family history
Edo period
Although the Shigeyama family had worked as Kyogen performers in Kyoto since the early years of the Edo period, they only succeeded in firmly establishing themselves as a famous Okura-ryu school Kyogen family after Masatora, the 9th Sengoro SHIGEYAMA (the 1st Sensaku, born in 1810 and died in 1886), began performing in the late Edo period. Masatora was the son of a draper in Kyoto and was called Chuzaburo SASAKI at first, but he was adopted by the 8th Kyuzo Hidemasa SHIGEYAMA and then called himself Sengo Masatora. When Kichigoro OGAWA, a personal retainer and Kyogen performer of the Hikone clan, suddenly fell ill during his performance of "Makuramonogurui" (a Kyogen love story between an old man and a young girl) at a Noh ceremony held in Hikone Castle in 1830, Sengo (20 years old at that time) managed to perform as a substitute for Kichigoro, by which Sengo gained favor with Naosuke II, the lord of the Hikome clan and was taken into his service on the spot. On that occasion, there was a story that Sengo changed his name to Sengoro because Naosuke misheard Sengo as Sengoro, but this was a story that was created later. Naosuke was a well-known Noh lover and he reproduced "Tanuki no Harazutsumi" (a Kyogen story about a hunter and a raccoon dog, commonly called "Hikone tanuki") that had been lost at that time, also wrote "Onigayado" (a Kyogen story of a drunk and his lover) and got Masatora to perform it. That is why these two numbers are treated as especially important ones for the Shigeyama family today.

After the Meiji period
Masatora had three sons, but the two older sons died early and the third son, Ichizo (born in 1864 and died in 1950) was a prodigal son. When Masatora died in 1886, Ichizo repented for his profligate life and decided to take on his father's mantle and learned the trade under Masatora's apprentices and succeeded as the 10th "Sengoro" (Masashige, later the 2nd Sensaku). Masashige tried to perform spectator-friendly and easy to understand Kyogen and readily joined shows even if they were small and willingly performed Kyogen for a low performance fee. "Otofu-shugi" (the tofu principle: like tofu, which is loved by everybody and used in both high class food and home cuisine, the Shigeyama people willingly performed their Kyogen anywhere they were asked to) was established as the Sengoro SHIGEYAMA family precept in Masashige's generation. Masashige was also keen on preserving folk performing arts in Kyoto that had been declining along with the progress of civilization and enlightenment and he took care of children who joined and rode the Naginata (long-handled sword) float in Gion Festival and served as chairperson of the preservation committee of Mibu Kyogen (pantomime performed in Mibu-dera Temple).

Masashige had no biological children and his adopted son, Masakazu, became the 11th Sengoro (later the 3rd Sensaku, born in 1896 and died in 1986), succeeding to his father's name. Though Masakazu was small in stature, he had a well-projected voice and was very good at performing "Tarokajamono" (story of a servant) and "Zatomono" (story of a blind man). He was fond of writing and spend 35 years writing down all the existing numbers (182 performances) and other extra numbers of the Sengoro family as scripts. The Sengoro family had scripts of Torahiro-bon (scripts written by Torahiro) that was gifted from the head family of the Kyogen school during Masatora's apprenticeship in Edo (present Tokyo), however, the times had changed and there were considerable differences in detail between these scripts and those of the Sengoro family, so it was required to newly rewrite the original scripts for the Sengoro family. In his late years, Masakazu was highly acclaimed as a Kyogen performer and he was designated a living national treasure in 1976, the second time in the Okura-ryu school.

Activities after World War II
Though no boy had been born into the Sengoro family for a long time since Masashige, Masakazu was blessed with children and his two sons, Sensaku SHIGEYAMA (the 4th) (Shime, the 12th Sengoro, the 4th Sensaku, born in 1919) and Sennojo SHIGEYAMA (the 2nd Sennojo, born in 1923), carried on the art of the Sengoro family. They broke an old custom and performed in a new type of drama, Shingeki, directed by Tetsuji TAKECHI, or Kabuki and positively interacted with other arts, for which they were once urged to leave the Noh Association. Shime became popular by performing boundlessly cheerful and enjoyable Kyogen using his natural attractiveness and he was also designated as a living national treasure (the third time in the Okura-ryu school) same as his father in 1989. Though he is the oldest among actively working Kyogen performers, he still continues his energetic activities. Sennojo, in contrast to his elder brother, is a versatile theorist and is remarkable in many fields such as creating new Kyogen, reproducing old Kyogen, or directing operas and musicals, but in recent years, he has matured and mellowed as a Kyogen performer.

The next generation, and beyond
Their children and grandchildren are also very active and Masayoshi (the 13th Sengoro), Shingo (the 2nd Shime), and Senzaburo, sons of Shime, Akira, son of Sennojo, Masakuni and Shigeru, sons of Masayoshi, Motohiko and Ippei, sons of Shingo, and Doji, son of Akira are all supporting the Sengoro family as Kyogen performers. The Sengoro family has been known for their long tradition of taking good care of their apprentices and many of them have become professional Kyogen performers. Other Kyogen performers who belong to the Noh Association now are Masao KIMURA (follower of the 3rd Sensaku), Senkichi SASAKI (also follower of the 3rd Sensaku), Masami AMITANI (follower of the 4th Sensaku), Kaoru MATSUMOTO (also follower of the 4th Sensaku), and Yasushi MARUISHI (follower of the 2nd Sennojo).