Nihon buyo is Japanese Classical Dance. However, unlike forms of Japanese art more closely associated with daily life (Shinto ritual kagura, local art transmitted across generations, bon folk dances, minyo folk songs, for example), nihon buyo is an independent performing art intended for the stage.
Embodying elements of performing arts which originated earlier, such as “bugaku” (ceremonial performance of the Imperial Court whose origins are traced to India and Central Asia) and “nohgaku” (noh theatre and its origins), and incorporating the refined essence of a range of folk arts, nihon buyo can be described as a “treasury” of Japanese art from ancient to modern times.
Over a history of nearly four centuries, nihon buyo acquired its many faces, represented today in kabuki buyo based in the kabuki theatre, kamigata mai and kyo mai traditionally performed in more compact, tatami-matted zashiki spaces, and sosaku buyo or creative, original dancing.
Nihon buyo – a definition
The literal meaning of the term “nihon buyo” is “Japanese Classical Dance.” Expressed differently, it is an accumulation of four centuries of history.
It has carried on the craft transmitted from noh and other performing arts that can be traced back three hundred years earlier, and it has incorporated techniques refined in later eras. In this sense, nihon buyo has been accomplished through a repeated process of polishing.
To summarize, nihon buyo is an artistic dance based on the tradition of classical techniques transmitted from preceding forms of art, and expressed through the medium of the stage.