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Rei Sasaguchi

For Rei Sasaguchi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Gala time for kabuki icon Sakata Tojuro IV

Aug 20, 2014

Gala time for kabuki icon Sakata Tojuro IV

The eighth annual instalment of NHK Enterprises’ Gei-no-Shinzui (Essence of Art) summer kabuki gala, to be staged August 22 at the National Theatre in Tokyo, will star Living National Treasure Sakata Tojuro IV, one of those rare actors as famed for his portrayals of ...

Bunraku legend gets set for his grand finale

May 7, 2014

Bunraku legend gets set for his grand finale

On the occasion of his retirement after three decades as a bunraku narrator, the designated living national treasure Takemoto Sumitayu VII will present part of a program of traditional puppetry (ningyō jōruri) being staged by the National Theatre in Tokyo from May 10-26. Born ...

Go feast on morsels of a masterwork

Mar 19, 2014

Go feast on morsels of a masterwork

Audiences at the National Theatre of Japan might be excused for indulging in a little time travel this month as they feast their senses on prime morsels of “Musume Gonomi Ukina no Yokogushi,” a masterwork by Kawatake Mokuami first served up at the Moritaza ...

This special Horse Year kabuki's a real winner

Jan 15, 2014

This special Horse Year kabuki's a real winner

Most kabuki plays have at their core a dramatic historical episode. Around this, there’s generally a colorful, oft-times melodramatic and action-packed confection of intrigues, loyalties, romances, self-sacrifice and villainy founded on varying degrees of fact — or simply fashioned as pure fiction. In “Sanzenryō ...

Maestro steers bunraku classic to its happy end

Dec 25, 2013

Maestro steers bunraku classic to its happy end

For its last bunraku offering of the year, the National Theatre in Tokyo’s central Hanzomon district staged two plays to great acclaim between Dec. 4-16: “Otonomiya Asahi no Yoroi” and “Koimusume Mukashi Hachijo.” Of these, the former is a classic example of the predominant ...

Passions and pathos

Oct 23, 2013

Passions and pathos

Back in 1751, the haunting power and harrowing sadness of a new five-act bunraku (puppet) play by Namiki Sosuke titled “Ichi-no-tani Futaba Gunki” (Chronicle of the Battle of Ichi-no-tani)” made it such a hit among the masses that, within a year, a kabuki version ...

The human kindness of a foxy woman

Jul 10, 2013

The human kindness of a foxy woman

“Ashiya Doman Ouchi Kagami” (“Mirror of the Imperial Court during the time of Ashiya Doman”) depicts the rivalry between two Heian Period characters Abe no Yasuna and Ashiya Doman. It was created as a bunraku by Takeda Izumo in Osaka in October 1734, but ...

A lovesick nun, magic sandals and a vengeful ghost

Mar 21, 2013

A lovesick nun, magic sandals and a vengeful ghost

“Sumidagawa Hana no Goshozome” (“The Sumida River Adorned with Cherry Blossoms”) by Tsuruya Namboku IV (1755-1829), now showing at the National Theater of Japan, was written to be a blockbuster. It was created for the Ichimura-za theater in Edo in 1814, when kabuki was ...

Kabuki kicks off the new year

Jan 11, 2013

Kabuki kicks off the new year

Audiences at the Asakusa Kokaido venue in Tokyo have been welcoming 2013 in with some high culture. Ichikawa Ebizo XI opened the public hall’s program for the new year with a 45-minute piece titled “Kotobuki Soga no Taimen” (“The Soga Brothers Meet their Enemy”). ...