Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki
By: John Fragglepuss Evans
I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.
If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here
Kabuki at Kabuki-za
Kabuki is classical Japanese theatre known for its stylization of drama and elaborate makeup worn by the performers. It is the most popular of the traditional Japanese drama. Some other forms include Rakugo and Bunraku. The stage design is essential to kabuki, from the hanamichi extending from the main stage to the mawari-butai (revolving stage). Three main categories of performances exist: historical, domestic, and dance pieces (jidaimono, sewamono, and shosagoto).
They have made Kabuki foreigner-friendly using audio guides in multiple languages. The guide provides essential translation of dialogue and lyrics, as well as explanations relating to the stories that may be difficult for non-Japanese visitors to understand. Another foreigner-friendly option is to attend a single act rather than a full play.
Kabuki-za is the main theatre for kabuki. It was originally built in 1889, but was rebuilt in 1911, 1924, 1950, and 2013. Once it was destroyed due to fire, once due to earthquake, once to bombing during World War II, and once as a complete rebuild due to earthquake concerns. Kabuki-za runs plays year-round. If you are going to catch a single act of the play, you have to show up morning of to buy tickets. You can only buy one ticket per person. Show up early to ensure you can get a seat.