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JapanWednesday, July 6

Saying Yes to Noh

Even some Japanese people find the language in Noh theater difficult to understand, so performers must go to great lengths to promote their art to foreign audiences.

Visitors from around 30 countries are learning the basics of the 600-year-old art form at Tokyo's National Noh Theater.

More than 160 people tried on the iconic masks and walked on the rehearsal stage at a recent workshop.

"I felt really unstable when I walking around and I thought I was going to fall, but it was very good at the end," says one participant from Australia.

The organizers believe anyone can appreciate Noh by focusing on the unique style of staging and music, even if they can't understand the words.

Participants tried their hand at traditional Japanese instruments. They also practiced chanting together.

"I don't think Japanese have this kind of opportunity. So I feel really lucky to experience," says one participant from Argentina.

"Everybody want to enjoy, I feel. If I say something, everybody open-hearted, want to understand. So I enjoy," says Noh Theatre actor Yoko Layer.

As the organizers had hoped, even a small amount of training paid off when the participants became the audience.

"Because we practiced it, we could hear it. Although we can't understand Japanese we remember the phrase. So it was very interesting," says a British participant.

Workshop organizers are hoping to transform Noh's reputation as an elite art form for a select few, to something anyone can enjoy.

"Dancing, chanting and playing the instruments gave our foreign guests a deeper understanding of the art form. I hope experiences like this can help more people overseas learn to appreciate Noh," says actor Yoshimasa Kanze.