Committed to the feminine craft

Dec 18, 2008

Committed to the feminine craft

O ff stage, kabuki actor is a tall, handsome and sensitive- looking man with white hair but a young face. On stage, the respected onnagata (male actor who specializes in female roles) can be anything from a sexy concubine to a faithful spouse. Born ...

Hitting skins to find sound's color

Sep 18, 2008

Hitting skins to find sound's color

‘It is amazing that I have participated in 12 out of the 31 performances of the ‘Nihon no Taiko’ program that started at the National Theater of Japan in 1977,” says the drummer Eitetsu Hayashi, who helped start the wadaiko (Japanese drums used in ...

Nihon buyo dancers pass on their culture

Aug 7, 2008

Nihon buyo dancers pass on their culture

As far back as elementary school, Yukari Hatori, now age 34, dreamed of becoming a nihon buyo (Japanese dance) performer. She had learned the basics of nihon buyo as soon as she could stand on her feet, receiving lessons from her father, Onoe Kikunojo ...

A graceful step onto Edo's stage

Mar 13, 2008

A graceful step onto Edo's stage

‘Now that his life-long dream of having the stage name of Sakata Tojuro has come true, I think Tojuro aspires to revitalize the style of kabuki acting unique to the Kamigata (Kansai) region,” says Shoichi Yamada, the former executive director in charge of bunraku ...

The faithful student

Jan 17, 2008

The faithful student

“I love Las Vegas shows,” says kabuki actor Ichikawa Kamejiro. “I go to Las Vegas because I think they use the most advanced techniques to create stunning productions. I find their attitude toward show business completely different from ours.” This comment might seem surprising ...

Out from under noh's shadow

Dec 6, 2007

Out from under noh's shadow

‘F or kyogen actors, Japan losing the war in 1945 was a wonderful event as it liberated kyogen from its long subjugation to noh,” actor Shigeyama Sennojo says. “For the first time in 400 years, kyogen was recognized as an independent form of theater.” ...

Look inside the puppet's head

Sep 13, 2007

Look inside the puppet's head

“One aspiring to become a puppet operator would have to spend 10 years to master the handling of the puppet’s feet and another 10 years to be able to operate its left hand,” says Yoshida Bunjaku, 79, one of two omozukai (principal puppeteers) awarded ...

Tale of treason

May 24, 2007

Tale of treason

In 1582, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), a man of humble origins, became Japan’s taiko (prime minister) after the death of the warlord Oda Nobunaga. But the taiko in “Ehon Taikoki (Records of the Taiko),” a bunraku (traditional Japanese puppet) play written by Chikamatsu Yanagi and ...

Meeting his muse -- Tamasaburo Bando

Mar 22, 2007

Meeting his muse -- Tamasaburo Bando

‘Iwrote this play with Tamasaburo Bando in mind for the role of Chujohime,” says Haruo Moriyama. “I have been his fan ever since I saw him enacting Shiranuihime in Yukio Mishima’s ‘Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki (Adventures of Minamoto no Tametomo)’ at the National Theater in 1969.” ...