KABUKI GLOSSARY (U~Z)
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U
 

One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). U is the sign of the hare.

In Japanese:

Uesugi Kagekatsu
 

Son of Uesugi Kenshin, Uesugi Kagekatsu (1556~1623) was a Japanese daimy˘ of the Echigo province [more details]. He is named Nagao Kagekatsu in the Kabuki classic "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘".

In Japanese: 上杉景勝

Uesugi Kenshin
 

Uesugi Kenshin (1530~1578) was a Japanese daimy˘ of the Echigo province in the late stage of the Sengoku period [more details]. He is named Nagao Kenshin in the Kabuki classic "Honch˘ Nijűshik˘".

In Japanese: 上杉謙信

Uir˘
 

During the Edo period, uir˘ was herbal medicine, used as an antitussive and a breath freshener. Nowadays, it is a sweet steamed cake made of rice flour and sugar.

In Japanese: 外郎

Ujiza
 

A ningy˘ j˘ruri theater founded during the second half of the 17th century in Ky˘to by Uji Kadayű, a j˘jűri reciter from the Kii peninsula. He took the name of Uji Kaganoj˘ in 1677 and shortly afterwards Chikamatsu Monzaemon I started to write for him. The Ujiza was quite a popular theater up to the middle of the 1680s but it was quickly overshadowed by its rival in ďsaka, the Takemotoza. Uji Kaganoj˘ died the 21st of 1st lunar month of 1711.

In Japanese: 宇治座

Uma
 

A horse. "The Kabuki stage horse is a work of art, a splendid structure of wood and velvet borne by two specialist assistants. These assistants have exercised a monopoly for generations and there is very little about the behavior of horses that they do not know and reproduce. Their beasts toss their heads, paw the ground, back away from obstacles and fret at the bit like any thoroughbred. Trotting is a proud specialty and the authors have even seen a gentle canter. The actor who rides such horses must give a tip known as "hay money" (kaibary˘) to the artists if he does not wish to risk an undignified fall - the pleasing tradition persists at least, even if present-day stage discipline militates against any such calculated mishaps" (Aubrey and Giovanna Halford in "The Kabuki Handbook").

In Japanese:

Uma
 

One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). Uma is the sign of the horse.

In Japanese:

Umakata
 

A packhorse driver.

In Japanese: 馬方

Ume
 

Plum tree/blossom. It is associated to Ume˘maru, one of the main characters in the epic drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami".

In Japanese:

Ume-no-yoshibeimono
 

Dances or dramas whose leading character is the otokodate Ume no Yoshibei. The most famous ume-no-yoshibeimono in the current Kabuki repertoire is "Suda no Haru Geisha Katagi".

In Japanese: 梅の由兵衛物

Unagidani
 

A famous place name, in the Minami district in ďsaka. It gave its name to the Kabuki play "Unagidani". The words unagi and dani meaning eel and valley in Japanese, Unagidani is therefore the Valley of Eels! Nowadays, its sh˘tengai (a Japanese commercial district running along a certain street) is quite famous [picture].

In Japanese: 鰻谷

Unshű
 

Unshű is another name for the province of Izumo (Izumo no Kuni), which grosso modo corresponds to the eastern part of the current Shimane prefecture.

In Japanese: 雲州

Ura
 

The reverse side; the opposite rear. A Kabuki theater is divided into two different worlds (spaces) by the stage hikimaku, the ura and the omote; the ura is the actors/backstage side.

In Japanese:

Uramon
 

A back gate.

In Japanese: 裏門

Uroko Yoten
 

One of the five main yoten costumes. "Costumes classified as uroko yoten have a background of white silk with a triangle pattern done in silver leaf, making an allover triangle diaper of white and silver that symbolizes the scales of a snake." (Ruth Shaver in "Kabuki Costume")

In Japanese: 鱗四天

Ushi
 

One of the twelve signs of the zodiac (jűnishi). Ushi is the sign of the ox.

In Japanese:

Utazawa
 

"Utazawa is a style of singing with shamisen that comes from the late Edo period. The voice is drawn out and highly ornamented and there is a very subtle relationship between the voice and the shamisen. It began when some samurai and wealthy merchants decided that the popular songs of the time needed to be polished and improved and eventually, this became a separate style." (Source)

The first master of this style was Utazawa Sasamaru, who later took the name of Yamato no Daij˘. This school divided itself into two branches, one led by Utazawa Toraemon and the other led by Utazawa Shibakin.

In Japanese:
歌沢 (for the Toraemon branch)
哥沢 (for the Shibakin branch)
うた沢 (when both branches perform together)

Ut˘
 

The name of a Japanese bird, which calls out its children with the onomatopoeia ut˘. The children answer with the onomatopoeia yasukata.

In Japanese: 善知鳥

Wada Gassen
 

The battle of Wada. The Wada clan against the H˘j˘ clan. It happened in Kamakura the 24th and 25th of May 1213 and ended with the total destruction of the Wada clan. Wada no Yoshimori, the leader of the clan, was killed in action the 24th and Wada no Tsunemori, the heir of the clan, was able to run away but committed suicide the 25th.

In Japanese: 和田合戦

Wadashi
 

The Wada clan, which existed in Japan between the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura period. It was founded and led by Wada no Yoshimori. They competed against the H˘j˘ clan and were utterly defeated at the Wada Battle.

In Japanese: 和田氏

Wada Tsunemori
 

Wada no Tsunemori (1172~1213) was the eldest son and heir of Wada no Yoshimori, the head of the Wada clan. He was also the brother of Kobayashi no Asahina. He was a gokenin of the Kamakura Shogunate. He took part in the Battle of Wada, where the Wada clan was defeated by the H˘j˘ clan. He ran away in the Province of Kai, where he committed suicide the 25th of May 1213.

In Japanese: 和田常盛

Wada Yoshimori
 

Wada no Yoshimori (1147~1213) was an important gokenin of the Kamakura Shogunate and the head of the powerful Wada clan. He led his troops and allies at the Battle of Wada in Kamakura, where his clan was defeated by the H˘j˘ Clan and where he was killed in action the 24th of May 1213 [more details].

In Japanese: 和田義盛

Wagoto
 

The "gentle style". One important Kabuki acting style, usually opposed to the aragoto style. The father of wagoto was the great Kamigata actor Sakata T˘jűr˘. The typical wagoto hero is a young, soft, romantic refined gallant, the heir of a rich family of merchants and deeply in love with the most beautiful courtesan of the ďsaka pleasure quarter. He has spent all the family fortune in the pleasure quarter or doesn't have enough money to buy back the contract of his lover. At the end of the play, he often has to run away with her lover, committing a beautiful shinjű in order to live happy together in the afterlife. Speech and gesture in wagoto are much more realistic and delicate than in the aragoto style. The two most famous wagoto roles are Fujiya Izaemon and Hiranoya Tokubei in the plays "Kuruwa Bunsh˘" and "Sonezaki Shinjű". The wagoto style symbolizes the Kamigata Kabuki, whereas the aragoto style is associated to Edo Kabuki.

In Japanese: 和事

Wagotoshi
 

One subdivision of tachiyaku: a wagotoshi is an actor specialized in roles in the wagoto style.

In Japanese: 和事師

Wajitsu
 

One subdivision of tachiyaku: wajitsu is a subtle mix of wagotoshi and jitsugotoshi.

In Japanese: 和実

Wakadono
 

A young master.

In Japanese: 若殿

Wakaonnagata
 

Actor onnagata specialized in young maiden or princess roles.

In Japanese: 若女方

Wakasa
 

Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the southern part of the current prefecture of Fukui. It was also called Jakushű.

In Japanese: 若狭

Wakashugata
 

Actors specialized in young adolescent roles.

In Japanese: 若衆方

Wakat˘
 

The lowest class of samurai, the young retainers in a clan.

In Japanese: 若党 / 若黨

Wankyűmono
 

Dances or dramas whose main characters are Wanya Kyűbei and his lover, the courtesan Matsuyama. Kyűbei, nicknamed Wankyű, is the son of a wealthy ďsaka drygoods dealer. He spends all his time and family's money in the pleasures quarter and his extravagance has no limit. His parents are so exasperated that they decide to confine him in a room. He escapes and wanders in the countryside in a state of madness, desperately looking for his lover. This story is based on some real facts. There was a man named Wanya Kyűemon, who led an extravagant life in the Shinmachi pleasure quarter, loving a courtesan named Matsuyama. Many legends surrounded his life and he became the hero of a book written by the famous writer Saikaku. One of these legends was about a new year party done in the middle of summer, using expensive decorations, including some real pieces of gold to be picked up by the crowd. The death of Kyűemon is still a mystery. He was punished by his parents and confined in a room. In one version, he escaped, became crazy and fell into a river. The other version is less romantic: he was sent off in Ky˘to and died of illness there. His tombstone is located in the Jiss˘ji temple in ďsaka.

The most famous wankyűmono are "Ninin Wankyű", "Maboroshi Wankyű", "Wankyű" and "Wankyű Sue no Matsuyama".

In Japanese: 椀久物

Wasabi
 

Known as "Japanese horseradish", its root is used as a spice and has an extremely strong flavor [more details].

In Japanese: 山葵

Washi
 

Japanese hand-molded traditional paper.

In Japanese: 和紙

Washű
 

Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Nara Prefecture. It was also called Yamato.

In Japanese: 和州

Watashimori
 

A ferryman (or ferrywoman).

In Japanese: 渡守

Yabase no Ura
 

The Yabase Bay is a famous bay on Lake Biwa and one of the "Eight Views" of ďmi (ďmi Hakkei), "the Boats Returning to Yabase". On Hiroshige's famous print, a poem tells about "the boats that come with swelling sails to Yabase have been chased by the wind along the coasts of Uchide" (as it was translated by Mr. Binyon for the British Museum catalogue).

In Japanese: 八橋の浦

Yada Gor˘emon
 

Yada Gor˘emon Suketake (1675~1703) was one of the 47 r˘nin of Ak˘ (Ak˘ R˘shi). Like the others, he committed seppuku the 4th of the 2nd lunar month of the 16th year of the Genroku era (the 20th of March 1703 in the western calendar).

In Japanese: 矢田五郎右衛門

Yagara
 

Literally "arrow shape". The name of the cornet fish, an extremely elongated fish [more details].

In Japanese: 矢柄

Yag˘
 

Actor guild name. The equivalent of a store name for actors. During the feudal times, lower class people were not allowed to hold family names. It was however possible for a merchant or an employee to use his store name as a family name. For example, Ch˘bei, head clerk at the Yamadaya liquor shop was called Yamadaya Ch˘bei. The Kabuki actors used family names, like Ichikawa, Nakamura, Onoe, Kataoka or Band˘ to name the most famous ones, but it was of course a breach in the law and the yag˘ was a good way to give the illusion to the Shogunal authorities that actors were not trying to usurp some privileges of the higher classes. The yag˘ is very important in Kabuki, more important than the family name of the actor, because it strictly defines the guilds (acting families). For example the Ichikawa clan is divided in several guilds like Naritaya, Omodakaya or Mikawaya. Without the yag˘, there would be no way to understand the close link between the Onoe Kikugor˘ and Band˘ Hikosabur˘ lines of actors, which share the same guild name (Otowaya). The first ideogram used in a yag˘ is ya, which means roof/house/shop in Japanese.

In Japanese: 屋号

Yagura
 

Literally the "drum tower". A traditional turret built on top of the Kabuki theaters to symbolize the license to produce theater performances granted by the authorities during the Edo period. There used to be a drum in the yagura, which was beaten to open or close a performance everyday. Nowadays, there is still one yagura on top of the Kabukiza but no more drum or license.

In Japanese:

Yagyű Shinkage Ryű
 

One of the most famous Japanese schools of swordsmanship [more details].

In Japanese: 柳生新陰流

Yakata
 

A daimy˘'s mansion

In Japanese:

Yakko
 

Low-ranking footman serving a high-ranking samurai. They lead their Lord cortege to free the streets with their spears when he travels in the country. They are key roles in many Kabuki dramas, helping either the hero or the villain of the play and they are at the center of many famous tachimawari. Yakko's costums are always colorful and they often put on kumadori make-up.

In Japanese:

Yakkomono
 

Play or dance whose main character is a yakko.

In Japanese: 奴物

Yakusatsu
 

The strangling of a person or an animal with one's bare hands.

In Japanese: 扼殺

Yakusha
 

Actor.

In Japanese: 役者

Yakushae
 

A traditional Japanese print (ukiyoe) depicting Kabuki actors.

In Japanese: 役者絵

Yakusha Gakuya Tsű
 

An illustrated book containing 36 actors portraits, drawn by either Utagawa Toyokuni I or Utagawa Kunimasa I. The texts were written by Shikitei Samba and the book was published in 1799. The actors are (in the alphabetical order) : Arashi Sampachi I, Arashi Shichigor˘ III, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ III, Band˘ Minosuke I, Band˘ Mitsugor˘ II, Band˘ Zenji I, Ichikawa Danjűr˘ VI, Ichikawa Danz˘ IV, Ichikawa Hakuen I, Ichikawa Komaz˘ III, Ichikawa Omez˘ I, Ichikawa Tomoz˘ II, Ichikawa Yaoz˘ III, Iwai Hanshir˘ IV, Iwai Kiyotar˘ II, Iwai Kumesabur˘ I, Kirinoya Monz˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘ IV, Matsumoto Kunigor˘, Matsumoto Yonesabur˘ I, Morita Kan'ya VIII, Nakajima Wadaemon, Nakamura Denkur˘ IV, Nakamura Noshio II, Nakayama Tomisabur˘ I, Onoe Matsusuke I, Osagawa Tsuneyo II, ďtani Hiroji III, ďtani Tokuji I, ďtani Tomoemon II, Sanogawa Ichimatsu III, Sawamura S˘jűr˘ III, Sawamura T˘z˘ I, Segawa Kikunoj˘ III, Segawa Kikusabur˘ II and Segawa Tomisabur˘ II.

In Japanese: 俳優楽室通

Yakusha Hy˘banki
 

hy˘banki.

Yakusha Mono Iwai
 

"Yakusha Mono Iwai" was an illustrated book dedicated to Kamigata actors, illustrated by Ryűk˘sai and published by Inaba Shin'emon and Murakami Kuhei in ďsaka in 1784. Here is the list of the actors depicted in this book: Anegawa Daikichi, Anegawa Minato II, Arashi Bungor˘ I, Arashi Hinasuke I, late Arashi Kichisabur˘ I, Arashi Sampachi I, Arashi San'emon VI, Arashi Sangor˘ II, Arashi Sanjűr˘ IV, Arashi Shichigor˘ II, Arashi Shimpei II, Asao Kunigor˘ II, Asao Tamejűr˘ I, Asao Toyoz˘, Band˘ Iwagor˘, Fujikawa Hachiz˘ II, Fujikawa Kanekur˘, Fujikawa Sango, Hanagiri Toyomatsu III, Imamura Shichisabur˘ III, late Mimasu Daigor˘ I, Mimasu Daigor˘ II, Mimasu Matsugor˘, Mimasu Tokujir˘ I, Mihogi Gizaemon II, Nakamura Jiroza II, Nakamura Jűz˘ II, Nakamura Kashichi I, Nakamura Ky˘jűr˘ II, Nakamura Noshio II, Nakamura Tomijűr˘ I, Nakamura Utaemon II, Nakayama Bunshichi I, Nakayama Raisuke II, late Nakayama Shinkur˘ II, Nakayama Taz˘, Ogawa Kichitar˘ I, Onoe Kikugor˘ I, Onoe Shinshichi I, Onoe Tamiz˘ I, Sawamura Kunitar˘ I, Shibazaki Rinzaemon II, Somematsu Shichisabur˘ II, Yamamura Giemon II, Yamashina Jinkichi II, Yamashita Kamenoj˘ IV, Yamashita Kinsaku II, Yamashita Yaoz˘ I and Yoshizawa Iroha I.

In Japanese: 旦生言語備

Yakuwari Banzuke
 

Yakuwari banzuke were sold at theatres and teahouses. In Edo, the yakuwari banzuke was similar to a booklet, consisting of six page sheets of paper. The opening page displayed the crest and name of a theatre in the center, surrounded by the actors' crests (mon), which lend these works the alternate name mon banzuke. The second page presents the actors' names and crests, followed by the ˘nadai (the Kabuki ky˘gen title of the day), konadai (titles for each act) and titles of chants, as well as the casts, playwrights and the name of the theatre. In ďsaka, single sheets were usually used, while a set of two long, horizontal sheets were used in Ky˘to. The names of the actors and cast lists were shown on these (from the Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center).

In Japanese: 役割番付

Yamabushi
 

An itinerant Buddhist priest practicing asceticism in the mountains. The most famous one is the monk warrior Musashib˘ Benkei, commonly called Benkei, faithful retainer of the young Lord Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

In Japanese: 山伏

Yamamba
 

Yamamba is the supernatural mountain hag of the Japanese legends. In Kabuki, she is the mother of Sakata Kintoki, a strong boy who will be one of the shitenn˘.

In Japanese: 山姥

Yamambamono
 

Dramas or dances whose main character is yamamba. One of the most famous yamambamono is Chikamatsu Monzaemon I's drama "Komochi Yamamba".

In Japanese: 山姥物

Yamashiro
 

Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the southern part of Ky˘to Prefecture today [more details].

In Japanese: 山城

Yamato
 

Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Nara Prefecture. It was also called Washű.

In Japanese: 大和

Yamato K˘riyama
 

Yamato K˘riyama is a city in Nara prefecture [more details].

In Japanese: 大和郡山

Yamatoya
 

Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Band˘ Shűch˘ and Iwai Hanshir˘.

In Japanese: 大和屋

Yamazaki no Tatakai
 

The battle of Yamazaki. A battle which happened in 1582 near Ky˘to. Akechi Mitsuhide, a retainer of the warlord Oda Nobunaga, attacked his lord as he rested in the Honn˘ji Temple in Ky˘to. He forced him to commit seppuku and took over Nobunaga's power and authority around the Ky˘to area. Thirteen days later, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, another retainer of Oda Nobunaga, met Mitsuhide and his troops at Yamazaki and easily defeated him, avenging his lord and seizing authority and power for himself [more details].

In Japanese: 山崎の戦い

Yanagi
 

A willow tree.

In Japanese:

Yanagibashi
 

Literally the Willow Tree Bridge. Yanagibashi was a famous hanamachi in Edo.

In Japanese: 柳橋

Yanushi
 

The owner of a house; a landlord or a landlady.

In Japanese: 家主

Yaoya Oshichi
 

Oshichi was a 16 year-old girl, daughter of a vegetable store (yaoya in Japanese) owner, living in the district of Hong˘ in Edo (the current Bunky˘-ku ward in T˘ky˘). In 1681 Oshichi fell in love with a young priest whom she met at his temple while seeking shelter from a large fire. Hoping to see him again, she set fire in 1682 to her own home, causing a massive blaze that destroyed a huge section of Edo. She was arrested, trialed and condemned to be executed for arson. She was burnt alive to pay for her crime. Her grave is located in a temple in the district of Hakusan (Bunky˘-ku, T˘ky˘). Yaoya Oshichi became a legend and a leading character in several Kabuki plays.

In Japanese: 八百屋お七

Yari Odori
 

Dance with a Spear (keyari). This kind of dance was created by the great dancer Mizuki Tatsunosuke I during the Genroku era.

In Japanese: 槍踊り

Yarisaki
 

The tip of a spear.

In Japanese: 槍先

Yarite
 

A doer; a go-getter; a shrewd person; a hot shot.

In Japanese: 遣り手

Yar˘ Tachiyaku Butai ďkagami
 

The "Great Mirror of Adult Male Role Players" [1], which was published in ďsaka by Izumiya Yazaemon in the 1st lunar month of 1687, was the very first hy˘banki in Kabuki history.

In Japanese: 野良立役舞台大鏡

Yasaka Jinja
 

The Yasaka Shrine (jinja). A famous Shint˘ shrine in Ky˘to in the district of Gion (first construction started in 656) [more details].

In Japanese: 八坂神社

Yashiki
 

The mansion of a samurai family.

In Japanese: 屋敷

Yashima no Tatakai
 

The battle of Yashima. A major Heike naval defeat against the Genji, which occured the 22nd of March 1185 near the city of Takamatsu, just off the coast of Shikoku Island [more details in English/more details in Japanese].

In Japanese: 屋島の戦い

Yashű
 

Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current prefecture of Tochigi. It was also called Shimotsuke.

In Japanese: 野州

Yatai kuzushi
 

A spectacular pavilion or building destruction on a Kabuki stage (keren).

In Japanese: 屋台崩し

Yatsushi
 

A former rich man fallen into the lower classes because he spent all his money for the love of a courtesan.

In Japanese: 俏し

Yatsushigata
 

Nimaime actor excelling in yatsushigoto roles.

In Japanese: 俏し方

Yatsushigoto
 

One form of wagoto, with the main character being a yatsushi.

In Japanese: 俏し事

Yodaime
 

The 4th generation; the 4th holder of a name; the 4th actor in a lineage.

In Japanese: 四代目

Yodogawa
 

The Yodo River. This 120 km long river begins at Lake Biwa and ends in the ďsaka bay. The Yodo River is the principal river in ďsaka Prefecture. It is also called the Seta River and the Uji River at portions of its route (in Ky˘to Prefecture) [more details].

In Japanese: 淀川

Y˘ji
 

A toothpick; a toothbrush.

In Japanese: 楊枝

Y˘jiya
 

A toothpick/toothbrush maker.

In Japanese: 楊枝屋

Y˘kai
 

Literally "bewitching apparition". Y˘kai are supernatural creatures in the Japanese folklore [more details].

In Japanese: 妖怪

Yomihon
 

A type of popular Japanese literature of Edo period. Yomihon were distinguished from books, enjoyed mainly for their illustrations, and were noted for their extended plots culled from Chinese and Japanese historical sources. These novels were openly moralistic romances, and their highly schematized characters often included witches, fairy princesses, and impeccably noble gentlemen [more details].

In Japanese: 読本

Yorozuya
 

Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Shinjir˘ and Nakamura Shid˘.

In Japanese: 萬屋

Y˘shi
 

An adopted child.

In Japanese: 養子

Yoshinoyama
 

Mount Yoshino. A mountain located in the district of Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, Japan [more details]. "Mount Yoshino is quite simply one of Japan's very best cherry blossom viewing locations. An amazing 30,000 trees encompassing 200 varieties cover the mountain and from early April, when the blossoms at the foot of the mountain start to bloom, the whole mountain is slowly blanketed in pink until later in the same month when the green shoots appear. Toyotomi Hideyoshi is known to have held a grand cherry blossom viewing party with 5000 guests in 1594 but is not alone in big names making the journey to this Mecca of blossoms as Matsuo Bash˘, Shimazaki T˘son, Tanizaki Jun'ichir˘ and a number of other novelists and scholars are also known to have visited Yoshino" (source).

In Japanese: 吉野山

Yoshiwara
 

Famous pleasure quarter in Edo. The Shogunal authorities ordered the construction of Yoshiwara in 1615. The first location was the current district of Nihonbashi Ningy˘ch˘. Destroyed during the big fire of 1657, Yoshiwara moved to the district of Asakusa and took the name of Shin'yoshiwara.

In Japanese: 吉原

Yoshű
 

Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Ehime prefecture on Shikoku island. It was also called Iyo.

In Japanese: 予州

Yotaka
 

Nighthawk (literal meaning). The second meaning is prostitute.

In Japanese: 夜鷹

Yoten
 

The yoten is the name of a famous Kabuki costume. "There are five distinct types of yoten costumes: nishiki or gold brocade, shiro or white, kuro or black, hana or flower, and uroko or scale. Yoten are worn only in scenes where speedy action occurs, such as the stylized fighting scenes known as tachimawari. Though the wearers also referred to as yoten, are widely divergent personalities- including courageous warriors, brave men, police chiefs, ordinary policemen, notorious thieves, and sorcerers-the cut of their costume is essentially alike. The sleeves are always large and have wide openings, and the bottom of the top garnment is split at each side [...] the split on each side divides the bottom into three sections: two in front and one in back." (Ruth Shaver in "Kabuki Costume")

In Japanese: 四天

Yozakura
 

Cherry blossoms hanami at night. In the Edo period, yozakura meant specifically for Edo people enjoying the cherry blossoms at night in the heart of Yoshiwara.

In Japanese: 夜桜

Y˘zei Tenn˘
 

The emperor Y˘zei (869~949) was the 57th emperor of Japan; he "ruled" over his empire from 876 to 884 [more details].

In Japanese: 陽成天皇

Yűdachi
 

A sudden afternoon shower.

In Japanese: 夕立

Yui Sh˘setsu
 

Yui Sh˘setsu (1605~1651) was a military strategist and a leader of the unsuccessful 1651 Keian Uprising [more details].

In Japanese: 由井正雪

Yukata
 

Unlined cotton kimono (for loungewear or sleepwear). Informal summer light kimono.

In Japanese: 浴衣

Yukizeme
 

Literally "Torture in the Snow". In reality it is more "Bullying in the Snow" or "Beating up in the Snow" than "Torture in the Snow". In this kind of semeba scene, an innocent character is beaten up by an evil character with a bamboo stick or a bamboo broom in the snow. The two best examples are in "Chűj˘ Hime" or in "Akegarasu".

In Japanese: 雪責め

Yumishi
 

A bowyer; a bow maker.

In Japanese: 弓師

Yuna
 

During the Edo period, there were many kinds of bath. In some baths, there were beautiful girls called yuna (literally "hot water woman"). They went into the bath with customers to take care of them: undressing the customer, washing his body, doing his hair and dressing him again. It goes without saying that their services included sexual care, which explains the popularity of the yuna.

In Japanese: 湯女

Yűrei
 

A ghost; a spectre; an apparition.

In Japanese: 幽霊

Yushima Tenmangű
 

A Shint˘ shrine in T˘ky˘ dedicated to Tenjin, the God of Scholarship [more details].

In Japanese: 湯島天満宮

Yusuriba
 

Blackmail scene in a Kabuki play.

In Japanese: 強請場

Zagashira
 

The head of a Kabuki troupe. The zagashira was the main artistic producer of all the performances and the supervisor of the scripts provided by the playwrights. He was also in charge of the organization of both stage and backstage, working closely with both the zamoto and the tatesakusha. It seems that no onnagata actor ever held this title.

In Japanese: 座頭

Zamoto
 

Kabuki performances promoter during the Edo period. Owner of the right to organize Kabuki performances. There were important differences between Edo and the Kamigata:

  • In Edo, the zamoto was somebody who received a license from the Shogunal authorities to produce Kabuki in his own theater. He had the right to transmit his title, his license and his name to his son or adopted son. The most famous lines of zamoto in Edo were Nakamura Kanzabur˘ (Nakamuraza), Ichimura Uzaemon (Ichimuraza), Morita Kan'ya (Moritaza), Kawarazaki Gonnosuke (Kawarazakiza) and Yamamura Ch˘dayű (Yamamuraza).
  • In Kamigata, the zamoto was an actor, who produced Kabuki performance in the name of a nadai (the owner of the right to organize Kabuki performances). It was usually a yearly assignment.
  • In Japanese: 座元 (座本)

    Zangirimono
     

    The "Cropped Hair Plays". Genre of sewamono dramas, created by the playwright Kawatake Mokuami and the actor Onoe Kikugor˘ V, dealing with contemporary Meiji characters:

    "The designation, "cropped hair," refers to the fact that in the Meiji Era with the abolition of certain social distinctions, hair-styles also changed. Until Meiji a man's station in life was indicated by his hairdo, i.e., the way the scalp was shaved and the length of hair and method of tying it. With the levelling of all ranks of men, ordinary close-cropped hair (zangiri) became the fashion for all classes high and low. Kikugor˘'s "Cropped Hair Plays" were so-called because the characters appeared with the characteristic haircut and costume of the Meiji Era. These plays were the second step in the development of a modern theatre in Japan, and the first time since Genroku that Japan had even the semblance of a contemporary theatre." (Faubion Bowers in "Japanese Theatre")

    In Japanese: 散切物

    Zansatsu
     

    The killing of a person with a katana.

    In Japanese: 斬殺

    Za˘d˘
     

    An important wooden-built religious building within the precincts of the Kinpusanji Temple.

    In Japanese: 蔵王堂

    Zashiki
     

    A Japanese-style drawing room used to welcome guests (with an alcove in one corner). A standard feature on many Kabuki scenes.

    In Japanese: 座敷

    Zat˘
     

    A blind masseur.

    In Japanese: 座頭

    Zegen
     

    The zegen were paid by brothelkeepers to purchase from poor families beauties for the pleasure quarters. They were women-trafficking brokers who traded girls, often of a young age.

    In Japanese: 女衒

    Zenkunen
     

    A medieval 9-year war in ďshű, which started in 1051 and ended in 1062. The Minamoto clan, appointed by the Imperial Court in Ky˘to, went to fight and defeat the Abe clan in their own lands, the ďshű provinces [more details].

    In Japanese: 前九年

    Zenshinza
     

    A progressive leftist theater troupe founded by Kawarazaki Ch˘jűr˘ IV and Nakamura Kan'emon III in May 1931. They succeeded in building their own theater in 1937 in Kichij˘ji (a suburb of T˘ky˘) in the face of great difficulties. The troupe, which survived the military dictatorship and the after-WW2 chaos, is still active today, performing in its own theater (rebuilt in 1980), at the Minamiza in January and at the National Theatre in May. The repetoire of the Zenshinza mixes up Kabuki plays/dances and modern politically-oriented productions. The Zenshinza is also famous for its revivals of Tsuruya Namboku IV's dramas.

  • First generation of actors: Kawarazaki Ch˘jűr˘ IV, Nakamura Kan'emon III, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘ V, Segawa Kikunoj˘ VI, Arashi Yoshisabur˘ V, Fujikawa Buzaemon IV and Nakamura Tsuruz˘ IV.
  • Second generation: Nakamura Umenosuke IV, Arashi Keishi, Arashi Yoshisabur˘ VI and Nakamura Tsuruz˘ V.
  • Third generation: Arashi Yoshisabur˘ VII, Nakamura Baijaku II, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘ VI, Segawa Kikunoj˘ VII and Fujikawa Yanosuke.
  • In Japanese: 前進座

    Z˘ri
     

    A straw sandal.

    In Japanese: 草履

    Z˘riuchi
     

    To hit somebody's head with a straw sandal. A very insulting and humiliating act in old Japan. The most famous z˘riuchi is in the play "Kagamiyama Koky˘ no Nishikie".

    In Japanese: 草履討ち

     

     

     

    [1] translation from Samuel Leiter in the "New Kabuki Encyclopedia".

     
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