noh business like show business


I’m sure I’m the first to make that pun. If I’m not: shhh, don’t tell me.

Last night, my friend asked if I was free tonight. I said sure and asked why and she told me she had an extra ticket to a production centered around showcasing in English various types of Japanese theatre, including rakugo, Noh, and my favorite part: the Geisha Drinking Game.

So like I said, all this was in English. It was held in a newly renovated Noh theater in Osaka, and I can’t overemphasize how beautiful that room was. We learned about the Noh stage from our native English-speaking host, who explained that Noh began as a dance for the gods performed out in the forest. When Noh began to attract a larger admiring audience, they moved things to a stage, but they always keep the pine trees of the forest as part of their stage (painted up there in the back).

Our hosts introduced each segment in English, and then the performers demonstrated their craft. My favorite part was the one I participated in.

Our hosts asked for three volunteers to play a version of rock, paper, scissors with a professional geisha. Usually, they added, this would cost many internal organs and an obscene amount of money to see or participate in, but luckily, we the audience were speeeeecial and got to see it for free (minus the cost of admission).

The game is called トラトラ or “Tiger Tiger.” We all know how rock, paper, scissors works, right? Well, “Tiger Tiger” works in the same structure, except instead of rock, paper, and scissors we have samurai, samurai’s mother, and tiger.

• Samurai defeats Tiger
• Tiger defeats Samurai’s Mother
• Samurai’s Mother defeats Samurai

So one by one, we volunteers went up to the stage and tried our luck against our opponent, the Mighty Geisha. The first two guys lost, and then it was my turn.

Ah, quick note! Another small difference between rock, paper, scissors is that in Tiger Tiger you have to perform the action of each (Tiger is the goofiest, since you have to be on all fours like a tiger). You and the Geisha are separated by a folding partition, then you reveal yourselves to each other doing your chosen action.

The first time, we both chose Samurai. Then we backed up to hide again and I decided to go with Samurai again, but the geisha went with Samurai’s Mother, so I lost.

But we still got prizes! Free tickets to a showcase event in April, plus a board autographed by all the performers!

And the geisha called me cute twice, so I’m all in all pretty happy with my Saturday night. ♡

Good night, citizens of the stage~!


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