Akira is a master actor-teacher of the Kita School of Japanese classical noh theater.

He was born in 1946 in Wakayama, south of Osaka and began studying noh at the age of seven. Matsui mastered noh dance and chant, and for the last 25 years has also been active in disseminating noh abroad. He has trained actors for the noh theater in numerous foreign countries including India, Australia, Germany, England.

Akira Matsui and Elena Pankova

Akira Matsui and Russian prima-balerin, Elena Pankova, in Strange Days

Furthermore, he has offered master classes at colleges and theatres across the U.S. and Canada. From his firm foundation in tradition, Matsui experiments in intercultural fusions. In Kyoto, he acted in the NOHO Theatre Group productions of plays by Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats and Beckett, and he has written plays based on Rashōmon and Hōichi. Together with American noh composer-performer Richard Emmert, he has created a series of “English Noh” including St. Francis, At the Hawk’s Well and Eliza. He has also recently performed in Eugenio Barba’s large collaborative performance, Ur-Hamlet, performed at Hamlet’s castle in Denmark. In 1998, Matsui was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government.