What is Henmen?

face change

Pronunciation: Henmen

The face change is

The moment the masker puts his hand or fan over his face, the eyelids (masks) change one after another. How the masks are changed is considered a "secret".

Making faces is also known as a performance in Japan.
There is a long and deep history of such face changes.
This time, we have summarized the history of the face change, including stories and literature information that our representative has seen and heard.
I would appreciate it if you could let the people of Japan know about this time-honored mask.

Henmen is a performance that fascinates the audience and makes everyone feel strange.

▲ Mr. Jiang, our affiliated masker

Detailed history of face change


Time Contents
End of Ming Dynasty to mid-Qing Dynasty  Immigrants from Shaanxi, Shandong, Hunan, Hubei, and Jiangsu brought down the origins of 'river opera' and established it by fusing the characteristics of each region.
Mid 1900s  The survival of the tradition is in danger due to changes and declines in audience tastes, reduction of production opportunities and theaters.
2005  The Cultural Heritage Protection Bill has passed the State Council.
2006  Sichuan Chuan Drama Academy was designated as the first national-level cultural heritage site in Japan to be certified as a "Chinese-level China national-level non-material cultural heritage ".
Recently Busy with tourists from China and abroad.

"Changing face" performed in Kawageki

Sichuan, China

Chuan Opera is a traditional performing art from Sichuan, China. One of China's eight major regional dramas (peking opera, review drama, etc.). Kawageki belongs to the ``drama'' that has been collectively called ``drama'' since the end of the late dynasty (about 400 years ago). "Drama" is a comprehensive art that incorporates all of literature, music, dance, art, martial arts, and acrobatics.

From the end of the Ming Dynasty to the early Qing Dynasty, immigrants from all over China flooded into Sichuan Province. With the construction and completion of a hall that reflects the culture of immigrants, theater and folk songs that have gathered from all over the country have come to be performed all at once on the big stage of Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In this great collaboration, the local dialect of Sichuan, folk customs, folk theater, acrobatics, folk songs, etc. gradually fused, and in the end it was completed as a culture of tunes unique to Sichuan. As a result, it can be said that such a fusion of cultures played a major role in the cultivation and development of river opera.
It is truly a ``traditional performing art for the common people'' that has been accepted by a wider audience and has become popular through the ingenuity and efforts of these performers. Many traditional performances have been handed down over generations, and are recognized as the most valuable traditional performing arts in China, and are even called national treasures.

In the river drama, a technique called henryu (pronounced henmen in Japanese) was performed, in which the masks were changed one after another without even breathing.

Birth of face change

The reason why ``change face'' was performed was that it was used as a directing technique when performing the following two ``river drama'' stories. The reason why the face change came to be performed is to express the following story.

[Story 1] This story goes back to the Northern Qi period in China

During the Northern Qi dynasty, there was a brave warrior, King of Lanling, who surpassed masculinity. But his face was feminine. As such, he was despised by the enemies he faced when he fought on the battlefield.
For this reason, he was forced to wear a hideous wooden mask every time he faced him.
When performing this, a simple mask lacks fun, so a production technique was invented to change the color of the mask.

[Story 2] The main character of "Kishorou (also known as the Three Transformations)", Kai Ebisu, was a famous thief who always stole money from the rich and gave it to the poor.

He was wearing a mask. Therefore, no one knew Kaiebisu's face, and he was never caught.
In the river drama, in the 1830s, in the original ``Kishorou'', a performer of Kai Ebisu (for example, Yasushirin) wore a mask made of several pieces of hard paper and changed his face. I did some performances. Later, in order to make the facial changes look more natural, Cao Junsheng (1882-1946), who played the role of Bei Ye, drew several different faces on sturdy paper and pasted them on top of each other. I covered it with a folding fan, peeled off my face, and performed.

Face-changing evolution

Kang Zi Lin (1870-1930) got a hint from Cao Junshin's method mentioned above, and used the Chinese entertainment ``nozoki karakuri'' (a large number of pictures are exchanged one after another in a wooden box and a convex lens is used). In the early days, he used to show Western paintings.), connecting it with his many years of acting experience, cut several pieces of strong paper into the shape of a mask, and then He drew a different signature on the face, pasted it over his face, and created a miraculous technique that instantly changes his face without using smoke or a folding fan.

This divine skill caused a river drama boom. Every time Yasuko Hayashi appeared, tickets were sold out immediately. The ticket price was 1.5 yuan (market price, equivalent to 20 kg of rice).

Yasukobayashi was called "Kangseijin" in river drama.

Since then, the mask change has been used in various plays such as "Suiman Kinzan" and "Dankyo" in "Shirojaden", and the popularity of "river drama" has increased at a stretch. This divine technique was kept secret, and he told only the relevant performers of his theater company. Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping highly praised this divine skill of "face-changing".

Development of face-changing technology

The transformation at birth was not as complicated as it is today. In addition, there are eight main methods: wiping, kneading, matcha, blowing, painting, tai, scribing, and scribing.

Introducing five important types from the history of mask change.

① Change the mask
Create a mask in advance from wood, rubber, hard paper, thick cloth, etc. During the play, the actor changes the mask to express the change in the character's feelings. There was no sudden change.

② Lucky change (ki mask) 
The actor uses qigong to collect blood on the face and change the color of the face. It was used when the late Chuan Opera actor Peng Si Hong played Zhuge Liang in "Empty City Plan". When Zhuge Liang heard that Sima Yi had withdrawn his forces, he was overwhelmed with emotion. In order to fulfill his responsibility and be half relieved, but on the other hand to express his complicated feelings of worrying about the future, he uses qigong to change his face from red to white, and finally to green. This technique was also used in river dramas such as "Katsuken", "Yoritsu Choun", and "Ome Gisatsu".

(3) Painted surface
Apply a large amount of white or black cosmetic oil to your hands or to your forehead, nose, etc. in advance, and during the performance, quickly apply it to your face with your hands as needed. After the villain Qin Hui of
"East Window Incident", who can change the color of his face in an instant by spreading oil on him, fell down the hero Yue Fei, he saw Yue Fei's spirit and collapsed in surprise. Use the technique of Toro to make the face black.
Fei Yu of "Hobi", Xu Xian of "Shirojaden", and Akira of "Quei Tei" also make use of 應.

④ Fukiro (blow face)
Place powder cosmetics (powder, silver powder, ink powder, etc.) in a container in advance, place it on the stage sleeve, and place your face in the container when necessary according to the story. Close your eyes, blow on the powder, and apply the powder to your face.
Seki Kaigyoku in "Katsuro Seki Kaigyoku" assassinates the Supreme Commander, Yong Guo Shu, on the battlefield, and at the ceremony of celebrating the victory, his face instantly turns black to express his feelings of guilt. do.
In addition, Rakuko Hitsugaya in "Jichuzan" also uses Fukiro.

⑤ 扯臉 (pulling side) 
The most advanced technique, the seeds of which are still a secret to this day. There are few people who can.
By changing the score, the character's emotions such as joy, sadness, anger, and pleasure can be expressed.
This method is very quick and exquisite, and it amazes the audience, but the movements are very difficult and require several years of training for the actor.
Kendo (who plays the role of Shikintetsu) in "The Legend of the White Snake", the thief Kaiji in "Kishorou", and Rianlong in "Wang Musume Nada" use the sword.

The mask is not only an intangible cultural property, but also a national treasure and designated as a national treasure of the People's Republic of China. The technique hidden in the mask is said to be "secret".

That's about it for this page.
From now on, we will continue to introduce detailed introductions and anecdotes about the face change on the news page.

A state secret? How to become a face masker? : From !