'47 Loyal Retainers' for the 40th anniversary

Oct 26, 2006

"47 Loyal Retainers" for the 40th anniversary

”My appointment by Commissioner Hayao Kawai of the Agency for Cultural Affairs to direct the Japan Arts Council came as a total surprise,” says Kazuaki Tsuda, “though I must confess I am having a great time. I spent 50 years selling whisky, and now ...

Kyogen meets contemporary theater

Aug 10, 2006

Kyogen meets contemporary theater

For the past 20 years, Kazuhiro Morisaki has promoted the comical performing art form of kyogen, but that doesn’t make him a purist. In his time working within the kyogen world, 56-year-old Morisaki has noticed that some younger performers — much like some noh ...

Playing for his master

May 25, 2006

Playing for his master

“I entered the world of bunraku by accident, without knowing anything about it,” says shamisen player Tsuruzawa Enjiro, who has just received the prestigious stage name Tsuruzawa Enza (VI) previously held by his master. In 1977, at age 18, Enza VI — then known ...

Paying respect to a father,
and a scholar

Mar 16, 2006

Paying respect to a father, and a scholar

In 1962, in order reverse a general decline in kabuki in Osaka, Kataoka Nizaemon XIII mobilized his three sons and a number of friends to independently stage their own performance. Osaka’s kabuki world, after thriving during the first few decades of the 20th century, ...

With new name, Sakata Tojuro free to revive kamigata-style acting

Jan 19, 2006

With new name, Sakata Tojuro free to revive kamigata-style acting

In 1953, kabuki actor Nakamura Ganjiro III (then known as Nakamura Senjaku) scored his first major success on a Tokyo stage with his unorthodox perfomance in “Sonezaki Shinju (Double Suicide at Sonezaki),” a 1703 work by the celebrated playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The director, Nobuo ...

Passion for kabuki

Nov 17, 2005

Passion for kabuki

After working for the Tokyo National Theater for almost 35 years, Koji Orita became director of its Department of Performing Arts in 2003. During his time at the NT, Orita has mastered the direction of kabuki, a task formerly assigned to zagashira, the lead ...

Sep 15, 2005

New revenge of the giant Heike crabs

The term shin kabuki, literally “new kabuki,” describes a genre of plays created from the early Meiji Era (1868-1912) through World War II by prominent playwrights such as Shoyo Tsubouchi (1859-1935), Kido Okamoto (1872-1939) and Seika Mayama (1878-1948). Until the preceding Edo Period (1603-1868), ...

Shakespeare as never before

Jul 20, 2005

Shakespeare as never before

Last October, 27-year-old kabuki actor Onoe Kikunosuke called theater director Yukio Ninagawa, who was working in London at the time, to see if he would create a unique kabuki piece for Kikunosuke’s debut production for the Kabuki-za. Together they decided to ask playwright Toyoshige ...

Vengeful tale of sweet poison

May 11, 2005

Vengeful tale of sweet poison

The Bunraku version of “Sendaihagi,” currently running at the National Theater, Tokyo, begins when Yoshitsuna, Lord of Sendai, retires from his position and hands his post to his young son Tsurukiyo. He abdicates because he has been plotted against by his uncle Nishikido Gyobu ...

A star is born as an actor gets his name

Mar 16, 2005

A star is born as an actor gets his name

The Kabukiza in Ginza is presenting special kabuki programs in March, April and May to celebrate the shumei (succession to a stage name) of Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII. Kanzaburo, 50, has mastered both tachiyaku (male lead) and onnagata (female) roles. He is showing off his ...