JAPAN EYE 2020

What’s so special about kabuki?外国人にも分かる歌舞伎

kabuki

Dears,Good day ! I ‘m Japanese Sommerier Rakithichi.
Today topic is as below.

What’s so special about Kabuki

Kabuki 歌舞伎 is a dynamic type of Japanese performing art developed during the EDO era(1603~1868)If you visit Koburitsu Gekkijo,the National theater called a kabukiza歌舞伎座 in Tokyo,you will be able to experience kabuki with an English translation.

kabuki actor

kabuki actor

kabuki-za(kabuki theatre in TOKYO)

kabuki theatre

Originally,kabuki was type of dance performed only by woman.It is said that this dance was first performed by IZUMO no OKUNI”出雲の阿国”、in currently part of Shimane Prefecture,in the early 17th century.

kabuki
But , because the dance was considered to be sexually provocative,the shogunate government prohibited to women to performing it.The dance itself, however,was not banned,as the govenment did allow male performers to play in Kabuki roles while forcing theaters to create stories that would be considered not lews but solemn in nature.
Kabuki then evolved as a perfoming art.

But to this day, the tradition of having male actors play female roles,known as onnagata女方,continues.
Kabuki has been appreciated and popular among both Edo(Tokyo)and Osaka people.The kabuki performed in Osaka and Kyoto is called kamigata kabuki上方歌舞伎.In Osaka,

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There is also puppet theater called bunraku 文楽 that is performed,which became very popular between the late 17th century and beginning the 18th century,supported by famous playwrights such as ChikamatsuMonzaemon近松門左衛門.

chikamatu-monzaemon

To promote kabuki actors and the performances they starred in,many woodblock prints were put up fo the community to see,just like posters advertising fil,s in modern times.These prints were called ukiyoe浮世絵.

SAMPLE of UKIYOE E means pictures

浮世絵 ukiyoe 浮世絵

Another important aspect of kabuki is the music that played in the background while the players perform. The instrument used to produce this music or lead those playing other instruments is called the shamisen三味線.as blw.

shamisen

The shamisen is a Japanese traditional instrument that is played by plucking its strings.Originally from China,the shamisen was modified around the 16th century in Japan.Not only is it used for kabuki performances,but also for several types of Japanese  Japanese traditional music. Its shape is similar to that of a banjo.It has a wooden neck and square-shaped body that is covered either with cat or snake skin.From the body to the neck stretches three strings,and like a violin there are no frets along the neck to help with finger positioning.Also,there are several types of shamisen that can be indentified by looking at their necks,skins and sizes.