Monday, April 20, 2009

Usobuki Mask

Over the weekend seminar we were joined by a Bujinkan group. The Dojo's Sensei John Hidalgo is also involved with the Shinto religion - native to Japan. I myself have spent some time involved in the the rituals, symbols and imagery of Japan's native theology.

So today I present my Usobuki Mask. (in the video down the blog a bit) I first saw someone using this mask at a shrine near my house in Japan. I was surprised how transforming the mask was - truly invoking of a spirit.

The Usobuki mask is one of the numerous masks used in kyogen, although the number of masks in kyogen is much less than noh. Kyogen plays are the comic interludes between noh dramas. They humerously reflect old tales and the problems of the human condition. Therefore, these masks reflect that humorous aspect. They usually exhibit amusing or absurd, exaggerated expressions. Usobuki is one of the type of masks with an exaggerated expession. The name of the mask can be interepreted several ways: an expression of innocence, whistling, or blowing on a fire are several of those. The crossed, bulging eyes, the puckered protruding mouth and up turned whiskers all contribute to a sense of the absurdity of life. Actors wearing usobuki masks can represent both human characters and the spirits of animals and fragile insects such as moths mosquitoes and cicadas.


  1. gozonuts@hotmail.comMay 10, 2011 at 5:16 AM

    I love it! Do you know where I can find more info on Usobuki and Okame's full story? Little is found on Google, presumably anything on them is in Japanese only. Thanks!