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

PlaysLeading Plays

Kyoganoko Musume Dojoji (The Girl at Dojoji Temple)

Kabuki Dances / Common name: Musume dojoji

Summary

"Kyoganoko Musume Dojoji" is a masterpiece in the tradition of Kabyuki dance called onnagata (female roles) buyo. Here, a single onnagata performs solo for nearly one full hour. The title is normally abbreviated as "Musume Dojoji" or simply "Dojoji".

The story opens with the arrival of a shirabyoshi dancer (a female dancer who wears a male costume) named Hanako. She is visiting the temple to dance during the dedication ceremonies for a new bell. While performing a series of dances, she suddenly jumps into the bell and reappears as a serpent. Because the dancing expresses various images of women desperately in love, the routine is divided into several parts.

Kabuki theatre contains numerous dojoji-mono (Dojoji Temple plays), originally derived from the Noh drama "Dojoji". All feature women visiting a temple to perform at bell dedication ceremonies who jump into the bell. Dojoji-mono plays date from the Genroku Period (1688-1704), with "Kyoganoko Musume Dojoji" considered the supreme collection of the numerous versions. It was first performed by the Kabuki actor Nakamura Tomijuro I in 1753.

Highlight 1

March 1990
National Theatre, Large Theatre
“Kyoganoko Musume Dojoji”
Hanako: Nakamura Shikan VII

Kudoki is a part in which a woman reveals her pathos and pain in Takemoto and Nagauta music. In Kabuki dance, the tradition is one highlight of musical performances. Kudoki routines are particularly celebrated for their relaxed and graceful movements. In this play, the kudoki sequence begins with the lyrics “I am finally beginning to learn about love in the same way that I learned to write” (Koi no tenarai tsui minaraite...).

The visual clip here is a dance scene is portraying the female heart before meeting a lover. A tenugui towel serves as a face mirror as Hanako applies moist rogue to her lips, accompanying the words “For whose sake am I coloring my lips and teeth?”

Highlight 2Quick Costume Changes

March 1990
National Theatre, Large Theatre
“Kyoganoko Musume Dojoji”
Hanako: Nakamura Shikan VII

Hanako changes costume several times during this play. These transformations include the quick-change method known as hikinuki. For this, two costume layers are basted together with strings. Koken (stage assistants) pull out the strings immediately before the change, removing the outer layer in perfect timing with the actor’s movements. Hikinuki and other such instant costume changes are effective in redirecting the attention of the audience.