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

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Shunkyo Kagamijishi(The Kagami Lion Dance)

Dances / Common name: Kagamijishi

Summary

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi”
National Theatre collection (BM002688)

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi”
National Theatre collection (BM002696)

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi” is a Kabuki Dance with nagauta song first performed by Ichikawa Danjuro IX during the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

In the story, a young lady-in-waiting named Yayoi is dancing for the Shogun. During the dance, she puts her hand into a decorated lion head mask, and at that instant the lion’s spirit takes possession of her. The distinguishing feature of the play is that a single actor dances two contrasting roles. In the first half, the role is that of a refined young female. In the second half, the dancer embodies the spirit of a wild lion.

After Ichikawa Danjuro IX died, performance of this repertoire ceased, but Onoe Kikugoro VI successfully revived it. Since then, this dance has been performed quite regularly.

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi”
National Theatre collection (BM002688)

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi”
National Theatre collection (BM002696)

Highlight

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi”
National Theatre (Y_E0100285500788)

There is a repertoire group called shishi-mono or shakkyo-mono in Kabuki dance. They are based on the Noh play “Shakkyo,” in which the Buddhist priest Jakusho Hoshi visits Mount Seiryo in China and sees a shishi (lion) playing with peonies.

The soul-stirring keburi (swinging of long hair) by the shishi in the second half of the dance, is the highlight point common to all shishi-mono. The knack of keburi is said to be “to swing the hair using the hips,” not using head or neck movement. Quite skillful technique is needed to swing the hair beautifully.

“Shunkyo Kagamijishi”
National Theatre (Y_E0100285500788)