TOKYO KABUKI GUIDE.COM

New Kabuki-za theatre was opened on April 2, 2013.
Q1. What is Kabuki?

          Kabuki is a traditional stage art in Japan, together with Noh, Bunraku and
          others.
          In 2005, the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
          Organization) registered Kabuki as Intangible Cultural Heritage.



          The following is taken from an article on the UNESCO website.

          I quote it because the explanation is very well summed up in a world-wide view.


          Kabuki is a Japanese traditional theater form, which originated in the Edo
          period at the
          beginning of the seventeenth century and was particularly popular among
          townspeople.
          Originally, both men and women acted in Kabuki plays, but eventually only male
          actors performed the plays: a tradition that has remained to the present day.
          Male actors specialized in women’s roles are called onnagata. Two other major 
          role types are aragoto (rough style) and wagoto (soft style).

          Kabuki plays are about historical events and moral conflict in relationships of
          the heart.
          The actors speak in a monotone voice and are accompanied by traditional
          instruments.
          The Kabuki stage is equipped with several gadgets, such as revolving stages
          and trapdoors through which the actors can appear and disappear. Another
          speciality of the Kabuki stage is a footbridge (hanamichi) that extends into the
          audience. Important characteristics of Kabuki theatre include its particular
          music, costumes, stage devices and props as well as specific plays, language
          and acting styles, such as the mie, in which the actor holds a characteristic pose
          to establish his character. Keshÿ, the particular make-up, provides an element
          of style easily recognizable even by those unfamiliar with the art form.

          After 1868, when Japan opened to Western influence, actors strove to heighten
          the reputation of Kabuki among the upper classes and to adapt the traditional
          styles to modern tastes. Today, Kabuki is the most popular of the traditional
          styles of Japanese drama.


Q2. What makes Kabuki so charming?

          There are many attractions in Kabuki.
          I love its stories, costumes, make-ups, acting, actors, stage settings, dancings,
          music, the voices of narrators.



          I think many attractive features are based on the fact that Kabuki is over 400
          years old, and the plays become a history lesson told in an entertaining way.
          The different acting styles and stage setting have long been established. Actor 
          titles are hereditary, so now, we can see KATAOKA Nizaemon XV on stage,
          sometimes in the same plays that his family's first generation, Nakamura 
          Nizaemon I, played in the 1600's. The sons succeed the actingstyle of their
          family and start their training at the early age of 6.

          These days, 5 Kabuki actors have been designated "living national treasures" in
          Japan. 

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