Actors parade for Kabukiza rebirth

Kyodo

Young kabuki actors and their veteran peers paraded Wednesday in the Ginza district in central Tokyo to celebrate the reopening of the landmark Kabuki-za theater next week.

An estimated 30,000 people lined up along the 400-meter parade route despite drizzly weather to catch the rare sight of 63 kabuki performers together, including popular young actors Ichikawa Somegoro and Ichikawa Ebizo.

“We hardly ever see this many actors all at once,” said Natsuko Sekimoto, a 54-year-old company employee from Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, who plans to watch Kabuki-za’s April performances. “I am very much excited at the reopening of the theater.”

Dressed in traditional “hakama” trousers, the actors waved and smiled at cheering fans and onlookers in one of the commemorative events in the run-up to the April 2 reopening.

Ahead of the parade, Sakata Tojuro, chairman of the Japan Actors’ Association, said in an address that the rain signaled a “lucky start,” expressing his hope that “people will pour in” to the new theater.

The first show for a general audience will be held next Tuesday. The aging theater was closed in 2010.

Kabuki-za first opened in 1889, after which it was badly damaged by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and the firebombing during World War II.