Signs of the Intangible

Japan’s 1400 Years of Performing Arts
Men at Dance: Bodies with a Spiritual Dimension

Endeavouring to highlight the 1400 years of continuity in Japan’s performing arts, the presentation Signs of the Intangible showcases 64 outstanding photographic images of select 8th-century ancient masks (Important Cultural Property), and UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage such as Noh performances, as well as avant-garde Butoh dance arts. Three topical film shorts by Miro Ito will also be shown.

The uniqueness of this presentation accentuates a never-seen-before perspective on how these outstanding tangible as well as intangible arts and traditions interact: Gigaku and Bugaku masks that came to Japan in the 7th century via the Silk Roads and that have the Hellenistic influences of ancient Greece, 1300 year old Shunie rituals in Nara, Noh performance with its 900- year tradition, as well as contemporary dance performances like Butoh.

It attempts to cast a new light on, and inspire a distinct awareness for, the connection between the human body and the invisible world; the body and its openness in forms of dedication and prayer to the great beyond can be regarded as a conduit to the universe.

Cover: "Signs of the Intangible - Body-mind-scapes of 1400 Year of Japan's Performing Arts" by Miro Ito

Miro Ito's photobook Signs of the Intangible was published in January 2023 by Media Art League LLC and you can purchase the book on our ONLINE BOUTIQUE page.

  • Participating Performers
    Hodaka Komparu (Komparu school Noh actor)
    Yukifusa Takeda, Tomoyuki Takeda, Fumiyuki Takeda (Kanze school Noh actors)
    Ko Murobushi, Goro Namerikawa, Tamara Yamaguchi (Butoh dancers)
    KiK_7, Giga Hizume, Sal Vanilla (Butoh company)
    Shunso (contemporary dancer/ballet dancer
  • Important Cultural Properties of Japan of the Tōdai-ji Temple 
    9 Gigaku masks masks (Suiko- ō, Suiko-jū [3 types], Konron, Karura, Chidō, Rikishi, Taikofu, 8th century) and 1 Bugaku mask (Ryō-ō, 13th century)
  • Important Cultural Properties of Japan of the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine
    6 Bugaku masks (Sanju , Kobobase,Chiky ū, Shintoriso, Nasori, 12th century; Kitoku-Koikuchi, 16th century)

Official poster image of Signs of the Intangible
The exhibition series were presented at Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto (as a part of commemorating events for the 90 Years of Japan-Canada Diplopatic Relation) as well as Japan Information Center of the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago in 2018.
Photographs by Miro Ito : Hodaka Komparu (Noh performer), Gigaku mask (Tōdai-ji Temple) and Ko Murobushi (Butoh performer)

【Previous Venues】

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC), Toronto

Consulate General of Japan in Chicago

Northwestern University, Chicago