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The media frenzy over kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo’s drunken midnight brawl in Tokyo last month may be a testament to how, 400 years after its birth, the genre remains a highly popular form of entertainment integral to Japanese culture.

Despite Japan’s radical transition from an isolated, feudal nation to a developed industrial democracy, kabuki has managed to successfully cultivate new fans and become the most popular form of traditional dance and drama.

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