Intricate 'noh' masks for Japan's tsunami lost

TOKYO- An amateur carver of the ornate masks used in traditional "noh" theatre took visitors on a tour of his works Thursday, in an exhibition mounted in memory of family who died in Japan's tsunami.
Kenshi Kimura's work, mostly depicting the demons common in the complex and subtle world of noh, is dedicated to his daughter and three grandchildren, killed almost a year ago as they tried to flee the waves.

Kimura, who taught himself the art of mask carving over two decades ago, said he had decided to display his works in Tokyo because his daughter and her family had been intending to move to the capital when tragedy struck.
"I came to Tokyo not because I wanted to exhibit my works," Kimura, 70, told AFP. "I'm here to console the soul of my daughter by coming to the city she wanted to come to."
The masks, crafted from cypress wood, are worn by players in highly codified noh performances, whose carefully controlled gestures are intended to express the emotions that their masked faces cannot show.
The art form, which flourished in the courtly world of 14th century Japan, draws on classical Japanese literature such as The Tale of Genji for its storylines, which often revolve around the lives of spirits.
Kimura, who has been commissioned to create a mask for a professional noh actor, said he likes to produce variations on a horned and fanged female with a wide-open mouth that is identified with jealousy and grudges.
The masks, on show at a gallery in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza area, will be returned to Kimura's tsunami-hit hometown of Higashimatsushima ahead of the March 11 anniversary of the disaster that killed 19,000 people.

Friday, March 2nd 2012

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