Nō (sometimes Romanized as “Noh”) is one of Japan’s oldest theatrical forms, and the oldest form of traditional theater still being regularly practiced today.
Nō plays involve masked lead and supporting actors, a chorus, and accompaniment by flutes and drums; the stories are based on Japanese legends and histories (popular subjects for drama around the world) and often feature a “transformation” of the lead actor between the first and second acts.
Because nō was originally performed at shrines during religious festivals and on special occasions, many of the oldest nō stages in Japan are located at shrines.
At 440 years old, the nō stage at Itsukushima Jinja (Shrine) on Miyajima Island (Hiroshima Prefecture) is one of the oldest in Japan:
It’s also the only nō stage built below the high tide line, on a raised platform that is entirely surrounded by water during high tide. Unlike most nō stages, which are constructed to ensure the actors can pass across them in absolute silence, the stage at Itsukushima Jinja is specifically constructed to allow the actors’ feet to create an echo.