I feel the same sense of beauty of Noh about “AkariAir” which creates a world without aroma

写真:喜多流シテ方として世界中の舞台で能を演じる気鋭の能楽師、塩津圭介さん。

Keisuke Shiotsu,
an energetic Noh performer who presents Noh on stages across the world as a leading proponent of the Kita School of Noh.

“I am the lead actor on the stage in Tokyo and elsewhere about 7 or 8 times a year. There are as many as 30 people engaged in the front line as performers in the Kita School of Noh and each of them have their own stages across Japan. We all support each other’s stages. Consequently, I appear on stage about 60 to 70 times a year. This is at a pace of about 5 to 6 times per month. Even though there was COVID-19 in 2022, I flew by plane as many as 90 times. I have a performance in Paris scheduled for 2023 and am also planning overseas performances, mainly in European countries.”

Shiotsu-san has a busy schedule and having reached mid-career as a Noh performer, he now appears to have become very aware of Japanese traditional culture.

“Recently, I have become particularly focused on tradition. A younger generation than I are appearing on the stage and it is important that the correct Japanese culture is handed down… I think that I have become strongly aware of this.”

Shiotsu-san is focused on the air purifier “AkariAir” that he carries with him.

“Noh is a subtraction culture so there is an awareness of the beauty that is left behind. In my own thinking it is only natural that things have functional beauty. In addition to that, I also want there to be the best of tradition and benefits of modern appearance. Looking at the ‘AkariAir’ from this perspective, in addition to its excellent function the design is very beautiful. Every part gives the feeling of Japanese beauty.”

写真:能のお面を見つめる塩津 圭介さん

A collaboration of tradition and modern. Aspiring to the craftsman’s sense of beauty incorporated in his beloved car

Noh masters hand down traditional culture. Probably because of this, Shiotsu-san selected the Jaguar MK2 due to the appeal of its classic styles for his beloved car. However, Shiotsu-san’s Jaguar is not only old.

“This MK2 is the 1962 model. When I brought it back to Japan from England in 1990s, it had be driven 23,000km and still had its maintenance log book. In restoring it in 1990, air-conditioning and power windows were installed and it was converted to an automatic shift. Of course, I can't drive it casually like today's cars, but I was able to care for the original, while adding equipment so that it could be used as a modern tool. I have a yearning for a Jaguar, because for craftsman to create an even better product, they passed down their skills from generation to generation.... I feel something like that kind of commitment. I yearn from the craftsman’s sense of beauty and that is how I want to be. However, I also think that young people see a classic car and they also feel there are aspects that are stylish. It is not only old. I am in positioned in a world with tradition as a Noh performer and want to continue being aware of being able to see the modern sense of beauty.”

写真:愛車ジャガーMK2を運転する塩津さん

“I think that what Noh can collaborate with is modern technologies. However, by combining Noh and modern things, there are aspects that will not be known without trying. Naturally, tradition must have a presence that is unshakable. People protect culture and I must firmly hand down what I have been given. I am determined to do that as a commandment to myself.”

写真:能のお面を見つめる塩津 圭介さん

The culture of subtraction is in “AkariAir,” which creates fragrant-free conditions

Shiotsu-san respects tradition while being actively receptive to the possibilities of modern technology. How does he use the “AkariAir?”

“It is compact and light-weight so easy to carry, so that. I obviously use it while travelling in the car. It is also good for using in planes and trains. The operating sound is extremely quiet, so my initial thoughts were “is it really working?”. Personally, I do not like smells inside vehicles. That is why even when operating it inside the car, I am really grateful to have the “AkariAir,” which gives my little reason to be concerned about it being a bother to other people by noise. I always carry a mobile battery with me, so the power efficient “AkariAir” is convenient as I can use it anywhere at anytime.”

Shiotsu-san says that at the same time as using “AkariAir” for himself, the “AkariAir” is also useful in the unique environment of the Noh world.

“There are no substitutes for us Noh performers. For example, when people who have studied and practiced for a long period of time are unable to appear on the stage on the day of the performance due to a cold or other reason, this is covered by a stand-in, but this has its limits. So, everyone is almost over attentive to wearing masks and disinfecting within the Noh theatre. That is why when someone comes for a meeting at the Noh theatre, it is not unnatural to simply say “excuse me” and bring out the “AkariAir” to sanitize and deodorize. This indicates consideration for each other, and I think it is also a good form of etiquette.”

Shiotsu-san, who says he is sensitive to aromas and smells, lastly told us how the deodorizing effect of the “AkariAir” is something similar to Noh.

“I think that within aromas there are some sensitive scent that are only felt when “there are no strong smells nearby.” “AkariAir,” which creates “fragrant-free conditions” with made-in-Japan technology seems to me to have a high affinity with the culture of an aesthetic sense of nothingness and the culture of subtraction. I feel something similar to Noh.”

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喜多流能楽師 塩津 圭介さん

Keisuke Shiotsu

Master of the Kita School of Noh

Born in Tokyo on October 27, 1984. First appearing on stage at the age of 3.
Continuing to promote Noh for younger generations since 2004 with the establishment of “Wakamono Noh.” While performing real Noh productions, he is focused on spreading an interest in Noh by younger generations such by having commentary by students and providing student discounts.
He independently established Noh “Dojoji” in 2015.
He successfully revived “Taketa Takigi Noh,” a traditional outdoor performance of Noh in Taketa City, Oita Prefecture, a place associated with his grandfather and father. He is continuously focused on positively confronting tradition from multiple aspects. He also has modern aspects, also competing in triathlons.