Noh Photography #1 – Irwin Wong

This is the first of a series of posts on photographers who have worked with the INI and with Udaka Michishige.

Irwin Wong is a professional photographer based in Tokyo. A few months ago he contacted the INI as he was looking to arrange a photo shoot commissioned by camera maker Hasselblad for the advertising campaign of their new model. We arranged to meet at Iori, a machiya, or traditional house in downtown Kyoto: Michishige brought his costumes and the masks he carves, and his sons Tatsushige and Norishige helped him with the complex dressing process. Irwin brought his camera and lighting equipment, while his collaborator Kondō Keiichi filmed the behind-the-scenes that you can watch in the video below. It was very productive day and Irwin’s pictures are just stunning: make sure to check out his post on the photo session, which also includes technical information about the cameras and the lights.

We can see two characters in the pictures: the female character is the mae-shite for the Noh Uneme, which Michishige performed in February 2014. The costume is a karaori, or Chinese brocade, and the mask is Ko-omote, to portray the face of a young girl. In stark contrast with the delicate female character is the vengeful ghost of Taira no Tomomori, appearing in the second half of the Noh Funa BenkeiFeatures of this costume are the white hitoe-kariginu, symbolising the character is a ghost, and the halberd and sword. The mask is Shintai, also used for roles of powerful gods.

Udaka Michishige preparing his Noh masks. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige preparing his Noh masks. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as the Ghost of Uneme. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Tatsushige and Norishige dress their father Michishige as the Ghost of Uneme. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as the Ghost of Uneme. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as the Ghost of Uneme. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as the Ghost of Uneme. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

The Ko-omote mask carved by Udaka Michishige. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Tatsushige and Norishige dress their father Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige as Taira no Tomomori. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige, Tatsushige, Norishige. Photograph: Irwin Wong.

Udaka Michishige (center), Tatsushige (left), Norishige (right). Photograph: Irwin Wong.

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2 thoughts on “Noh Photography #1 – Irwin Wong

  1. Pingback: Noh Photography #2 Stéphane Barbery | The International Noh Institute

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