TITLE: Kyōgen Kokushiki-Jo
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Kyodomen Kokushiki-Jo Mask
MAKER: Habu Mitsuma
CEREMONY: Okina Kyōgen
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: hair; pigment

Kyōgen is a popular form of Japanese theater. It was traditionally used in village plays and developed alongside Noh theater, where it was performed at intermissions.  Unlike Noh, which tends to have serious themes, the kyōgen generally takes the form of comic plays.

The Okina is an ancient Japanese dance ritual that uses a specific form of mask known as kokushiki-jo. It is one of the oldest masked characters from kyōgen, originating as a folk mask (kyodomen) and migrating to the formal stage. The Okina plays an important ceremonial role in the Shinto religion, because the kokushiki-jo performs the Sanbasō, a prayer-dance celebrating the emperor’s peaceful rain and seeking blessings for a bountiful harest.