Arts Council Tokyo
Traditional Culture Programs /
Approaching Tokyo Tradition

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Noh Online: Funa Benkei, Legendary Hero, Riding the Wave from Tokyo to the World

Online distribution (free of charge):Friday, January 29 − Wednesday, March 31, 2021

*Double-click for full screen.

Experience and Appreciation Program which aims to offer opportunities to people overseas to enjoy Japan’s traditional culture from Tokyo.
We intend to create the opportunity to appreciate the traditional Japanese culture through internet for the people overseas who are interested in Japanese culture but currently is not able to visit Japan due to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Message           Main characters           Story           Highlights           Trailer           Making-of footage           Outline


We are pleased to announce that we will be taking a new step forward and hold the program with organizer, Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, with the support and cooperation of Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
In recent years, more and more people from other countries have come to Japan with an interest in our land and culture, but now that this is currently impossible, we are planning to make a new video work of Noh play, a traditional Japanese performing art, and stream it to people who are thinking about Japan while staying in their own countries.
The new video work was a challenge to take Noh, a performing art, to a new step. In the new normal, we will seek a new way of performing arts. I hope that our cultural activities will contribute to people's peace of mind as we make small but powerful steps toward the coming days of tranquility.

Takehito Tomoeda/ Executive Board Member of RoppeitaXIV Commemorative Foundation

Main character

  • Shizuka Gozen

    Photo:Satoshi Ohtsuki

    Shizuka Gozen:
    Takehito Tomoeda

    [Mae-shite, with a young female mask]
    Yoshitune’s lover. Dancer. She had accompanied Yoshitsune on his escape, but Benkei and Yoshitsune persuaded her to return to the capital when they went into to the dangerous sea route.
  • Taira no Tomomori

    © YAMADA Miyuki

    Taira no Tomomori:
    Takehito Tomoeda

    [Nochi-shite, with ghost’s mask]
    A warlord of the Heike clan. In the final naval battle between the Heike and Genji clans, he was defeated by the Genji army led by Yoshitsune, and committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea. After his death, he becomes a grudge-holding ghost and tries to kill Yoshitsune's group while they are escaping on a boat.
  • Minamoto no Yoshitsune

    © YAMADA Miyuki

    Minamoto no Yoshitsune:
    Yutaro Tomoeda

    A warlord of the Genji clan. He helped his brother Yoritomo to destroy the rival Heike clan. However, he later fell out with Yoritomo and was forced to leave the capital. He is one of the most popular historical figures in Japan.
  • Musashibo Benkei

    © YAMADA Miyuki

    Musashibo Benkei:
    Kinya Hosyo

    A powerful monk and retainer of Yoshitsune. He is said to have fought a duel with the young Yoshitsune in Kyoto and lost, after which he became Yoshitsune's loyal retainer. In this “Funa Benkei (Benkei in a boat)”, he confronts the attacking Tomomori with the power of the pray of Buddhism to protect his master.
  • Boatman

    © YAMADA Miyuki

    Mansai Nomura

    An acquaintance of Benkei and helps Yoshitsune’s group escape by sea.


It was the end of the Heian period. The long-running war between Genji and Heike clans was won by the renowned general of Genji, Minamoto no Yoshitsune. He, however, fell out with his elder brother Yoritomo and was forced to leave the capital, fleeing to the west only with his retainer Musashibo Benkei, his lover Shizuka Gozen, and a few companions. It is a lonely wandering journey that is a far cry from the splendor of winning a historic battle.
The highlight of the first half is Shizuka Gozen's dance. Shizuka, who has finally accepted Benkei's advice that she should return to the capital, chants and dances, hoping for Yoshitsune's safety and the day when he will come back to the front stage again. In the latter half of the scene, the group goes out to sea, but the wind and rain are getting fiercer, and the atmosphere around them is unsettling. Then, the ghosts of the Heike clan appears in the sea. The commander-in-chief is Taira no Tomomori, who committed suicide bearing a grudge in the last battle with Yoshitune. The spirits attacked Yoshitsune's boat at once to sink it into the sea. In order to save his master, Benkei confronts the ghosts with the mythical power of Buddhism.

Noh “Funa Benkei”
Photo: Yutaka Ishida


■ Chant and Dance by saddened Shizuka Gozen on Yoshitsune’s departure
(0:25:00 − 0:45:00)

■ The boatman earnestly rowing a boat for fleeing Yoshitsune and Benkei. 
(0:54:00 − 1:02:56)

■ Attack by Taira no Tomomori the ghost, Yoshitune and Benkei who confront him
(1:03:55 − 1:13:25)


■ Promotion Clip 1. Reason for living

■ Promotion Clip 2. Reason for dancing

■ Promotion Clip 3. Reason for jumping

■ Promotion Clip 4. Agony of the living

■ Promotion Clip 5. Worry of the living

■ Promotion Clip 6. Dialogue without words

■ Promotion Clip 7. Rage of Vengeful Ghost

■ Promotion Clip 8. Dialogue with the dead

■ Promotion Clip 9. To live on

Making-of footage

■ Noh Online: Funa Benkei The making of video 1
Behind the scene

■ Noh Online: Funa Benkei The making of video 2
Interview  Comment


Traditional Culture and Performing Arts - Experience and Appreciation Program for Foreign Visitors

Noh Online: Funa Benkei, Legendary Hero, Riding the Wave from Tokyo to the World

■ Online distribution
Friday, January 29 - Wednesday, March 31, 2021
■ Fee
Free of charge
■ Title 
Noh "Funa Benkei" Shinnoden
■ Performers 
[Shite] Takehito Tomoeda, [Tsure] Yutaro Tomoeda, [Waki] Kinya Hosyo, [Waki-tsure] Hideshi Norihisa, Seigo Mikuriya, [Ai] Mansai Nomura, [Chorus] Sadamu Omura, Keiichiro Kaneko, Shigenobu Uchida, Shinya Tomoeda, Tomonori Tani, [Stage Assistants] Kunio Nakamura, Hiroyasu Sato, [Flute] Yusuke Kuribayashi, [Shoulder Drum] Yuji Morisawa, [Drum] Keinosuke Okura, [Stick Drum] Yuichiro Hayashi
■ Organized by
Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture
Supported by and in Cooperation with
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Produced by
RoppeitaXIV Commemorative Foundation
Filmed by
Teku-Teku Eizo Design Inc.
English subtitles, translated by
Sam Bett

* Contents are subject to change without notice.