INVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts KabukiINVITATION TO KABUKI Guide to Japanese Traditional Performing Arts Kabuki

Introduction

Kabuki is the dramatic theatre which combines music and dance. It is one of Japan’s most typical traditional arts. This performing art contains exciting stories, beautiful scenes and other features that thrill audiences. Throughout its long history, Kabuki has incorporated trends from each successive era, and continues to be a fresh performing art.

Unique Stage Performances Rich in Appeal

『浮世柄比翼稲妻』「吉原仲之町の場」
不破伴左衛門重勝:松本 幸四郎【9】
(現、松本 白鸚【2】)
名古屋山三元春:中村 錦之助【2】
平成24(2012)年 11月
国立劇場大劇場 第281回歌舞伎公演 公演記録写真(Y_E0100281500861)

Kabuki evolved as a form of theatre in which men perform all roles. The actors playing female roles are known as onnagata, while those taking on male roles are called tachiyaku. Exaggerated and stylized methods are used to achieve bold expressions that transcend reality. While various Kabuki elements are different from other forms of modern theatre, Kabuki has pioneered many more—actors often stop to take dramatic and motionless poses called mie, kumadori makeup is applied to signify greater emotions, instant costume changes, the use of cables to lift actors high above the stage and audience, and rotating the circular part of the floor of the stage to change scenes. Kabuki theatres also incorporate walkways called hanamichi that run from the stage right through the audience, so audience can feel a greater rapport with the actors onstage.

『浮世柄比翼稲妻』「吉原仲之町の場」
不破伴左衛門重勝:松本 幸四郎【9】
(現、松本 白鸚【2】)
名古屋山三元春:中村 錦之助【2】
平成24(2012)年 11月
国立劇場大劇場 第281回歌舞伎公演 公演記録写真(Y_E0100281500861)

Evolving with Edo Period Popular Culture

It is said that Kabuki began as a form of dance called kabuki-odori (meaning “wild and strange dancing”) that was popular around 400 years ago. The introduction of new elements such as music played on foreign instruments, complex stories and other qualities helped Kabuki steadily grow into a comprehensive form of theatre incorporating other entertainment styles and cultural elements. It was a favorite of the common people living in cities, and excellent playwrights and actors brought fresh creation and refinements to the art. By the middle of the 19th century, the majority of plays and production methods were largely in place. From the Meiji Period, Kabuki became a classical dramatic art. At the same time, new plays were added and it positively incorporate modern contents to the performances. Throughout all of this, Kabuki continues to be extremely popular.