There are many cultures that have been passed down through generations in Japan.
Kabuki is also one of that.
Although the beautiful decorations can’t be ignored, Kabuki is theater form which can understand Japanese history and culture deeply.
This time, I would like to introduce the history of Kabuki and the point that you can enjoy watching kabuki!
Kabuki has history of over 400 years, is a traditional Japanese theater form.
In old Japan, a person who does trendy fashion or a person who does not have common sense were called “Kabukimono”(かぶき者).
“Kabukiodori” that dance like “Kabukimono” was appeared in 1603, Kyoto, and Edo-Kabuki began in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1624. This Edo-Kabuki is present-day Kabuki.
Kabuki performed by male actors
The beginning of “Kabukiodori” is said that woman called Okuni who is Miko (a young girl who serves at a shrine.) of Izumo-Taisha (1) began to dance. it quickly became popular.
“Onnakabuki” became popular that many women imitated the Kabukiodori.
However, this performance was prohibited by governments to derange public morals.
Then, “Wakashukabuki” that young boys called “Wakashu” play a female role was appeared.
But it also was prohibited by governments to derange public morals.
Moreover, “Yarokabuki” was appeared. The adult male were performed the male role and the female role.
The governments gave a permission only to adult male.
So that’s why Kabuki actors are only male because this is an original kabuki that have been passed down through generations.
(1)…Izumo Taisha is located in the city of Izumo in Shimane Prefecture, the main deity enshrined at there is Daikoku. In the tenth month of the lunar calendar (usually in November), Shinto gods from all over Japan gather here for meeting.
How about stories?
The programs of Kabuki are the following:
・”Sewamono”(modern plays of the Edo period): it recount the everyday life of the Edo period.
・”Jidaimono”(samurai dramas): it focused on the period before the Edo period.
・”Aragoto” : theatrical pose, and kumadori which is make-up style are very impressive. And daring male character is attractive.
・”Wagoto” : it recount the delicate workings of character’s mind.
・”Shosagoko” of buyo which means dance.
・”Shinkabuki” : this story was written by dramatist and novelist who are irrelevant to Kabuki.
・”Shinsakukabuki” : it was written after World War II.
・”Superkabuki” : it is a modern style kabuki which is a different performance from the original.
A hero, a beautiful heroine, funny clown, costumes, ambitious direction, and sophisticated stories… Kabuki have over 700 repertoire, and classic stories are performed on a long-term basis.
Where can we watch?
You can watch Kabuki in some venues.
Tokyo:Kabuki Theater、National Theater、Shimbashi enbujo Theater、Nissay Theater、Asakusa Public Hall
In addition, you can enjoy Kabuki in other places such as Osaka Shochikuza Theater、Kyoto Shijo Minamiza Theater、Nagoya Misonoza Theater、Fukuoka Hakataza Theater.
This website can be booked tickets online for kabuki in English.
Should be understand Kabuki in advance ?
Of course, if you understand about stories, characters and the other aspects of Kabuki in advance, you can enjoy easily. But you can get the English guide services in the theater, so please don’t worry about it.
The English earphone guide can be rented for about 1000 Yen ( about 8.8 USD ) at near the entrance of the theater.
Besides, I recommend you to buy a booklet which is described about program and actors, before the curtain goes up.
It is sold for 1000 to 2000 Yen ( about 8.8 to 17.6 USD ) usually, so you can buy it at stall of the theater or from vendors.