Noh developed out of the Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple theater troupes and musical performances, and folk music of the 12th and 13th centuries. In the middle of the 14th century, Kan'Ami and his son Zeami were noted performers and playwrights. They refined their art and so impressed the Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, that he sponsored them. This sponsorship developed pride of place for the father and son's form of theater - Zen influenced, spare, minimalist, and refined, emphasizing restraint, suggestion rather than declaration, and economy of expression. (See the photo album, Hiroshima section, for a photo of the Noh stage I visited.)
IIJ Media Communications Inc. has a very nice discussion of Noh-Kyogen, with some beautiful photos.
Dr. Pamental's Home Page || Japan Page