Noh masks: Special masks worn for the traditional Japanese art of Noh

Tsuruga Yama floats are famous for using Noh masks on the faces of the dolls. Noh masks are special masks that are worn when performing Noh plays, a traditional Japanese performing art. Each town has a number of Noh masks, as well as Yama floats, that have been preserved since the Edo period (over 150 years ago). Since they are allowed to change the decorations on Tsuruga’s Yama floats every year, the town has many of these masks. Perhaps due to the popularity of battle-related items, there are not as many women’s masks that are well-known Noh masks, but one notable characteristic is the large number of masks of male deities.


Some of the decorative metal fittings, which attach to the lacquered railings surrounding the stage platform, are old works made during the Edo period, and were sometimes removed and reused. On the Yama floats used today, some of the corner fittings attached to the four corners and hinges that connect the curtains are new, but some extravagantly crafted items from the Edo period still remain. The corner fittings on the Higashimachi Yama floats feature elaborate metalwork with motifs of the bamboo and sparrow (a pair that goes well together and which is often featured in Japanese artwork). These metalworks are one-of-a-kind, and were designed especially for Tsuruga Yama floats.