[Tokyo] – Excitement today in Tokyo as Noriko Muramatsu (57) announced in an official press conference her plans to break the Guinness World Record watching Noh without dozing off. In doing so Muramatsu will attempt to improve her own record of 2 hours 12 minutes and 53 seconds, a record which experts describe as “superhuman” and “unbreakable”.
Noh actor Kingu Hosho describes Muramatsu as “one tough old lady”. “[She is] A living legend within the world of Noh.” During the Edo period (1603 to 1868; red.), sleeping during Noh performances was considered a grave insult and was in some cases punished by decapitation. Historians even argue that the significant decline in the Japanese population during the late 17th century can be partly attributed to a increase in the length of Noh plays a that time. “Noh plays were day-long events at that time. Those were dark times. Very regrettable”, concludes Hosho. In 1717, in an attempt to stop the bloodshed, shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune officially restricted the length of Noh plays to 4 hours. Nowadays, Noh plays rarely take more than an hour and a half, with roughly 9 out of 10 viewers dozing off within the first 15 minutes.
Muramatsu’s amazing talent has also attracted attention from the world of science. Prof. Kazuo Nakamura of the Tokyo Institute of Sleeping Disorders comments: “Her amazing ability is likely caused by a number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms [mutations in the genetic information of an individual; red.] in genomic regions regulating sleeping patterns”. Prof. Nakamura confirmed that currently Muramatsu’s genome is being sequenced. “There is considerable interest from the industries, including international pharmaceutical companies”.
Muramatsu’s Guiness World Record attempt is planned for the 27th of May. A system based on electroshocks is being designed to keep at least 3 of a total of 10 officials awake at all time during the attempt, to make sure all regulations are met.