Bringing samurai spirit and business acumen to kabuki

Jul 30, 2010

Bringing samurai spirit and business acumen to kabuki

On July 1, 2009, Kenzaburo Mogi, 72, a former vice chairman of the soy sauce manufacturing giant Kikkoman Corporation, was appointed to direct the Japan Arts Council, which covers all traditional performing arts of Japan, including noh, kabuki and bunraku (puppet theater). A soy ...

When a priest loves a woman, he can do so much wrong

May 28, 2010

When a priest loves a woman, he can do so much wrong

T1 his year, the National Theater’s summer program “Kabuki Class” will be showing the 75-minute play “Narukami” (“Thunder God”), part of a classical play known as “Narukami Fudo Kitayamazakura,” originally written in 1742 by the Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka) playwrights Yasuda Abun and Nakada Mansuke. Based ...

A rogue on high

Mar 5, 2010

A rogue on high

In real life, Ishikawa Goemon was the leader of a band of burglars in Kyoto who was caught in the summer of 1594 trying to kill Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the foremost politician of his day, and was duly executed at age 36 along with many ...

Breathing life into the mythical shachihoko

Jan 15, 2010

Breathing life into the mythical shachihoko

In 1610, as ordered by Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, the shogunal main office of Owari province (present-day Aichi Prefecture) was moved from Kiyosu to Nagoya, where a new castle was built. To commemorate the beginning of this magnificent castle’s construction, which ...

How 'new' kabuki has captivated theater audiences for decades

Nov 27, 2009

How 'new' kabuki has captivated theater audiences for decades

In 1893, at age 78, the great playwright Kawatake Mokuami died. Since he left no protege, his death also ended the tradition of classical Kabuki writing. Mokuami, who, during the 19th century wrote more than 360 plays over his long career, became the last ...

Swept away by the 'Tenpesuto'

Aug 28, 2009

Swept away by the 'Tenpesuto'

“The Tempest,” Shakespeare’s play of sorcery, was originally planned for bunraku puppet theater for the 1991 Japan Festival in London. The script was to be written by Shoichi Yamada (b. 1925), the former executive director of bunraku at the National Theater, using a Japanese ...

The monster that was made of fear

Jul 10, 2009

The monster that was made of fear

What’s a nue? A sobbing thrush? A splendid monster? Or the shattered souls of those excluded from society? In a fascinating two-hour play titled “Nue” by playwright Yoji Sakate, a nue is all three. Presented in the small auditorium at the New National Theater, ...

Is it a spider? Is it a monkey? Yes, it's a work by Ennosuke

Jun 12, 2009

Is it a spider? Is it a monkey? Yes, it's a work by Ennosuke

As a “kabuki class” for beginners, the National Theater of Japan is presenting in its large auditorium until June 24 a performance by Ichikawa Ennosuke, the master of “super-kabuki” productions, which he started to develop in 1986. The performance will be “Kaka Saiyuki” (“Kaka’s ...

Bunraku theater to celebrate an anniversary

May 15, 2009

Bunraku theater to celebrate an anniversary

“Hiragana Seisuiki” (“Records of the Battles between the Minamoto and Taira Clans in the 12th Century”), a five-act historical bunraku play by Bunkodo and collaborators, which was first staged at the Takemoto-za in Osaka in 1739, is being presented at the small auditorium of ...

Okinawan flavors of entertainment

Mar 20, 2009

Okinawan flavors of entertainment

Manabu Oshiro, the chief of the Research and Training Section of the National Theater, Okinawa since 2006, attributes the creation of kumiodori, a form of drama unique to Okinawa, to the friendly relationship that the Ryukyu Kingdom maintained with China for over 400 years ...