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Kyogen Performance: Kaminari, "Thunder"

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YAMAGUCHI Ryoshu, Japanese, (1886–1966)
Kyogen Performance: Kaminari, "Thunder", 1927
Ink on Paper
15 in. x 10 in. (38.1 cm x 25.4 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Showa (Japan, 1926-1989)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2007.1.144

Kyogen are short, comic interludes between longer noh plays. Using quick dialogue, improbable storylines and slapstick humor, some kyogen plays are parodies of familiar noh themes and others make fun of Shinto and Buddhist priests and rituals. A popular target are the mountain hermits, yamabushi, who are portrayed as rather "unholy' ascetics.

In this humorous interlude kyogen play, the Thunder God beats his drum so hard that he accidentally falls to earth. Unable to get up, he calls for help, and a doctor arrives, curing him by using an enormous acupuncture needle that he pounds in with a mallet (shown here). When the doctor demands payment, Kaminari claims he has no money. They finally agree that the Thunder God will not cause floods or droughts for 800 years.
Prof. Bruce Coats

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