Traditional Japanese masks: To see the world through someone else’s eyes

912a59e7 traditional japanese masks

The traditional masks of Japan are known for the variety of characters they depict. This is because traditional Japanese masks represent a certain emotion, and can be used to tell different types of stories. The traditional masks were originally worn during noh theater performances and kyogen comedies, but today there are many places where you can see them being worn outside traditional contexts as well. In this blog post, we will discuss traditional Japanese masks and what each one means!

Kabuki Masks

763d88bf kabuki masks

Kabuki masks are traditional Japanese masks that represent the traditional kabuki theater style. Kabuki is a traditional form of drama in Japan which developed during the Edo period, and became increasingly popular around 1603. The main feature of this type of mask is its bright colors – usually red or white – as well as exaggerated facial features such as eyes so big they seem to be popping out, and mouths with abnormally long jaws. In addition, these traditional Japanese masks also have an incredible amount of hair coming from their topknots! This hairstyle is part of how actors identify themselves when wearing different types of costumes for various roles throughout performances. One last interesting thing to mention about Kabuki Masks ( traditional Japanese masks ) is that they are also worn by the traditional Japanese theater puppets called Bunraku.

Noh Masks

4817a268 noh masks

Noh traditional Japanese masks are the traditional masks of Noh theater. The nō play is a very old type of traditional Japanese drama which dates back to the 14th century, although it has been modified many times since then. In contrast with Kabuki, Noh uses much simpler costumes and makeup – in fact, actors wear a white mask instead! This is because traditional noh plays were meant to be performed only by men ( now women can also perform ), who wore simple outfits such as kimonos and hakamas . These traditional Japanese masks were created from cypress wood for an actor’s face. On top of that, they cover almost all parts of his head apart from his eyes.

Bunraku Masks

cc092b7d bunraku masks

Bunraku traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese theater puppets. Bunraku traditional Japanese masks, also known as ningyō, have incredibly detailed and expressive faces which can represent not only different types of emotions but even the character’s age or social status. These traditional Japanese masks were made from wood ( usually cypress ) for the face, and covered all parts of the head except the eyes. Additionally, to make them more realistic they often included hair on top – similar to Kabuki traditional Japanese mask styles! There is a lot of craftsmanship involved in making these traditional Japanese masks so that every detail was accurately reproduced by hand: this makes bunraku traditional Japanese masks very expensive today too!

Kyogen Masks

ef4f88ba kyogen masks

Kyogen traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese comedy theater masks. Kyōgen is a type of traditional Japanese comedic drama which developed alongside Noh and Kabuki, but unlike the latter, it was never meant to be performed outdoors! The main characteristics of this traditional style are bright costumes with lots of accessories such as big wings or fans made from feathers – in stark contrast with nŌ’s simple outfits. In addition, kyōgen uses much more exaggerated facial features than its predecessors: for example instead of real hair bunraku traditional Japanese mask styles have white ones painted on! However, there isn’t one particular traditional Japanese mask design used by all types of plays; actors usually wear several different types depending on what role they are playing.

Joruri-bune Mask

22ffde02 joruri bune mask

Joruri traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese puppet theater characters. Jōruri traditional Japanese mask is a type of traditional Japanese music drama that developed during the Edo period and also became very popular around 1603 – but unlike kabuki, it was performed indoors! The main feature of these traditional styles of puppets is that they have incredibly detailed faces with eyes that can move independently from each other: this allows them to express different types of emotions depending on what’s happening in the story. These traditional Japanese masks were usually made from water buffalo horns for their face; however, there are exceptions where they also used metal or ivory instead.

In addition, some actors use false beards when performing as elderly men.

Shinto masks (Kamigami)

b7b4729f shinto masks

Shinto traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese religious theater masks. This type of traditional Japanese mask is a subtype of nō and was used mainly in the early 16th century by Shintos, who believed that their gods or kamigami would possess them during rituals; thus to conceal actors’ faces they were required to wear these traditional styles instead! These traditional Japanese masks replaced everyday ones which had been previously used – but unlike for Noh plays, noh-kanji weren’t worn with Shingon traditional Japanese mask styles because there were less ritualistic elements involved here.

The most notable feature about this type of traditional style is that it has two sticking out from its head: one in the front and one at the back!

Mempo (Samurai Masks)

e656f3ff mempo samurai masks

Samurai traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese warrior theater masks. Mempo traditional Japanese mask is a type of traditional mask which was originally used by samurai who wanted to conceal their identity for some reason: it’s also known as “the hidden face”.

This type of traditional style usually has an oval-shaped head and completely covers the actor’s eyes with its design; this allows them not only to protect themselves but also intimidate others! In fact, many people believe that they were inspired by helmets from different types of armored warriors such as European knights or Mongolian soldiers – however, there isn’t any historical evidence to support these claims yet.

Hyottoko Masks

ce937581 hyottoko masks

Hyottoko traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese comedy theater masks. Hyōtoko Traditional Japanese mask is a type of traditional Japanese comedic drama which was performed outdoors; it’s also known as “the masked man”. The main feature of this type of mask is that they are made from a hollowed-out gourd and not much else – nowadays even paper mache or wood may be used instead! Acting with these traditional styles can be extremely hard because the actor has to make signs with his hands (for example by playing an instrument) to express certain emotions without being able to see anything through them, but there are a lot of other props such as fans, hats or additional mascots that can help them too.

Okame Masks

e9a63b2e okame masks

Okame Traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese Dance theater masks. Okame Traditional Japanese mask is a type of traditional Japanese comedic dance drama which was performed outdoors in the Edo period: it’s also known as “the laughing face”. The main feature of this type of traditional style is that it’s smiling! This may seem obvious, but there are other types such as the serious-looking Nyonin Kagami (two women mirror) – this means that one side expresses happiness and the other sadness. Additionally, these types were usually made from water buffalo horns for their face; however, there are exceptions where they also used metal or ivory instead.

Oni Masks

a79b8411 oni masks

Oni Traditional Japanese masks are traditional Japanese Demonic theater masks. Oni Traditional Japanese mask is a type of traditional Japanese demonic mask which was usually used for plays when demons took over the protagonist’s body: it’s also known as “the demon face”. The main feature of this type of style is that they have horns (which may be very long, depending on the type of mask!) and sharp teeth, along with some scary-looking eyes! These types were usually made from water buffalo horns for their face; however, there are exceptions where they also used metal or ivory instead.

Hannya Masks

14b337de hannya masks

The most basic and ancient type of Japanese mask is known as the “hannya mask.” Hannya masks can still be seen today in many different contexts, including traditional kyogen performances. However, these masks have been incorporated into contemporary art and are depicted in graffiti throughout Japan.

Hannya masks were originally worn by onnagata female actors who were performing plays at the aristocratic court in Heian-Kyo (Kyoto). These female actors mimicked men’s roles, hence their choice to wear a mask with masculine features. One of the main characters they would portray was that of an evil woman who has become possessed by an evil spirit and is now filled with jealousy, rage, and despair. The hannya mask is a representation of this emotion, and it can often be seen in the paintings by Japanese artist Yoshitoshi.

In contemporary art, hannya masks have been used as symbols of other aspects such as wisdom and knowledge. In modern times, they are also used to represent unpredictability.

Kitsune Masks

10d74283 kitsune masks

Kitsune masks are another ancient type of mask that can be seen in traditional kyogen plays. Kitsune masks depict a long-nosed, mischievous fox spirit and are often used as comic relief throughout the play. These kitsune masks are usually depicted with red faces and greater hair than other types of Japanese masks. Traditional kitsune masks have eyes surrounded by black rings just like their tails.

In contemporary art, kitsune masks are often painted black or brown to represent that the fox has transformed into its true form and is now on its way to accomplish its mission.

Tengu Masks

830bac7b tengu masks

Tengu is a type of powerful, mountain-dwelling yokai (spirit) that was often depicted in classical Japanese paintings and noh plays. These creatures are known for having long noses that they use to smell out the fragrant aromas of humans. Traditional tengu masks have extremely long noses as well. In addition to their long noses, these masks often depict a human face with large eyes on either side of the mask.


Tengu were thought to be bringers of calamity, so traditionally you would not want them looking down from the skies above your town or village!

In modern arts, tengu masks are sometimes also used as symbols of greed and selfishness due to their love for treasures and material goods.

Character Masks

09fe5453 character masks

Character masks are representations of particular sets of qualities that a character may possess. Traditional Japanese masks have been used to depict all kinds of characters from comedic figures like kitsune, to greedy foreigners who come and steal from the community to terrifying spirits who bring disease and pain.

Modern art has used traditional Japanese character masks as symbols for not fitting in with society. Many people think that these individuals feel disconnected from society or feel as though they don’t belong. Some artists believe that these types of people could actually become hannya if they were consumed by dark thoughts such as these. In this way, traditional Japanese masks represent the emotional side of experiencing life in today’s modern world!

Kappa Masks

17a6ed22 kappa masks

Kappa is a type of traditional Japanese water spirit that loves cucumbers. Traditional kappa masks feature long faces with upturned noses and wide eyes as well as a bowl-like structure on the top of their head used to store water.

In modern art, kappa is often painted using vivid colors like green and blue to represent an unnatural color seen in nature such as bright red or purple. This represents how our society is now filled with unnatural colors and noise from objects such as cell phones and other electronic devices. Traditional Japanese masks have been used by modern artists to convey feelings of disconnection with nature!

Komainu Masks

acc8496e komainu masks

Komainu is a large, mythological animal that was often used in traditional Japanese shrines and temples. These creatures have the face of a lion and the body of a dog. Traditional komainu masks have large ears like that of a dog and wide eyes.

In an artistic context, komainu are often painted with bright colors such as yellow to represent sacredness in nature. Traditional Japanese masks can be seen as symbols for these types of sacred qualities we find all around us today!

Wearing a mask is something that most people do not take for granted. Yet, in Japan masks are worn on an everyday basis, and throughout the course of the day they can be used to change how one sees oneself and their surroundings. For example, during festivals, many Japanese wear elaborate costumes which include masks – these alter one’s appearance so as to become someone else or even depict an event from history (such as kabuki). This practice offers insight into what it means when we say “to see through another’s eyes” because wearing a mask forces us to consider ourselves differently than if there were no barrier between our own senses and the world around us. We hope you have enjoyed this blog post about traditional Japanese masks and that it gives you a better understanding of how to see the world through someone else’s eyes.


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