The beginning: kabuki-odori
Kabuki began during the early 17th century. The long-lasting wars that had taken place up until this point had ended and society was calmer, leading to the birth of one new entertainment after another, much to the enthusiasm of the people. Among these entertainments, Kabuki originated from a show-like entertainment called kabuki-odori, which was performed by a woman named Okuni using songs, dances, and skits. kabuki-odori incorporated the clothes and behavior of kabukimono, men with unusual personal styles who acted against the grain, prevalent in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and Kyoto, and became extremely popular.
Craze and control
There were many peoples or troupes who imitated kabuki-odori one after another, and they also incorporated a new instrument, the shamisen (Japanese three-stringed guitar), making kabuki-odori a huge craze. However, as it became popular enough to enthuse the samurai class and nobles as well as the common people, Kabuki performed by women was forbidden because people said that it disturbed public morals. Youths who specialized in playing female roles appeared in young men’s Kabuki; they incorporated acrobatic skills and comical performances to make their audience laugh. This naturally gained in popularity, but after a little while was also forbidden for disturbing public morals.