In the heat of summer, Japanese people turn to noryo (activities to enjoy the evening cool) — and kabuki is among the enjoyments on offer. Noryo programs were started at the Kabukiza Theater in August 1990, and have been in the charge of Nakamura Kankuro, 47, ever since. For this year’s program he has chosen ghost stories to make the audience forget the stifling heat by sending chills down their spines.

“The Death of Toyoshiga” is based on a story told in 1859 by San’yutei Encho (1839-1900), Japan’s greatest rakugo storyteller. Initially staged in 1922, with a script by Kinsaku Takeshiba, “The Death of Toyoshiga” centers on a middle-aged woman who makes her living by teaching music.

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