The word kōken 後見 refers to noh stage assistants. The kōken appearing in a performance are always shite actors belonging to the same school as the shite. A noh performance usually features two or three kōken. The name literally means (‘watch from behind’), as assistants sit at kōken-za, in the corner upstage right. The main job of a stage assistant is to prepare and supervise the performance, with a particular focus on the action of the shite. Certain performances require kōken dedicated to a specific role. For example, child actors (kokata) may be assisted by a specific kōken throughout the whole performance. Dōjōji requires a group of kōken (kane-gōken) solely dedicated to raising and dropping the bell. In addition to kōken are backstage assistants (hataraki) help kōken with costuming. Backstage assistants also take care of lifting the age-maku curtain, or operating the sliding door (kirido) upstage left.
- Prepare the tsukurimono stage properties, when used.
- Prepare the costumes and accessories for shite and tsure. Dress shite and costumes before the beginning of the performance and between acts. Take care of the costumes after the end of the performance.
- Accompany the shite to the kagami-no-ma mirror room before the entrance on stage and greet him when returning.
- Perform on-stage costume changes (monogi).
- Adjust costumes in case they lose their shape during performance.
- Retrieve discarded items such as swords or other hand-held properties, or substitute them with others, such as a fan.
- Prompt lines in case actors forget.
- Continue to perform in place of the shite in case he is unable to continue.