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

Characters and ActorsVarious Kabuki Roles

Soga no Iruka

Piece this appear in | “Imoseyama Onna Teikin” (Husband and Wife Mountains: An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue)

Character

Among the katakiyaku (villain character) in Kabuki, the term kugeaku refers to villains occupying high ranks such as kuge (court nobles) and feudal lords. In this play, the character Soga no Iruka displays awesome authority and superhuman powers in declaring himself the successor to the Imperial throne and behaves tyrannically.

Costumes

“Imoseyama Onna Teikin” ‘Mikasayama Goten’ scene
National Theatre (Y_E0100201000176)

Iruka appears with a gold crown and a costume embroidered with a dragon crest on the chest (symbolizing the Imperial throne). By wearing the crown and the crest on his clothing, Iruka boldly proclaims that he has seized control of the throne.

The wig Iruka wears is the oji style reserved for particularly wicked and larger-than-life Kabuki villains. In this case, long locks of hair flow down his back and hang over both ears, enhancing his superhuman presence.

The makeup the actor playing Iruka wears is a type of kumadori makeup. Deep blue (indigo) lines drawn over a pure white powdery foundation generate an eerie and cold-blooded effect.

“Imoseyama Onna Teikin” ‘Mikasayama Goten’ scene
National Theatre (Y_E0100201000176)