The Japanese dramatic art of Noh has long held a fascination for people both in the East and the West. For six hundred years it has had a huge influence on Japanese culture—and has inspired such Western artists as Ezra Pound and William Butler Yeats. Here is a translation of the Fushikaden, a seminal treatise on Noh by the fifteenth-century actor and playwright Zeami (1363–1443), the most celebrated figure in the art’s history. His writings on Noh were originally secret teachings that were later coveted among the highest ranks of the samurai class and first became available to the general public only in the twentieth century. The Fushikaden is the best known of Zeami’s writings on Noh and it provides practical instruction for actors, gives valuable teachings on the aesthetics and spiritual culture of Japan, and offers a philosophical outlook on life.
Along with the Fushikaden, translator William Scott Wilson includes a comprehensive introduction describing the intriguing history behind this enigmatic and influential art form, and also a new translation of one of Zeami’s most moving plays, Atsumori.