2 shows in Ky˘to (Minamiza), 5 in T˘ky˘ (Nissay Theatre, National Theatre, Heisei Nakamuraza), 1 in Kosaka (K˘rakukan) and 1 tour (Zenshinza)!

Minamiza (Ky˘to)
Dates 30 November ~ 26 December 2011 (Kichirei Kaomise K˘gy˘)
Annual Festive Face-Showing Performances

Kotobuki Soga no Taimen

Oedo Miyage


Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi (Kirare Yosa)

  • Misome
  • Genjidana
  • Evening

    Sanmon Gosan no Kiri (Sanmon)

    Genpei Nunobiki no Taki
    (Sanemori Monogatari)

    Genroku Chűshingura
    (Sengoku Yashiki)

    Rokkasen Sugata no Irodori (Kisen)



    Sakata T˘jűr˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Danz˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Ichikawa Omez˘, Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, Ichimura Kakitsu, Band˘ Shűch˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Nakamura Kikaku, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Mantar˘


    This December kaomise performances celebrate the 20th anniversary of the refurbishment of the Minamiza.

  • Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship. In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style of Jűr˘. This month features a cast headed by Kataoka Gat˘ as Kud˘ and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Kataoka Ainosuke as Gor˘ and Kataoka Takatar˘ as Jűr˘.
  • Oedo Miyage:
    (A Souvenir of Edo)
    This modern play is a light comedy with a fanciful episode from the life of commoners in the Edo period. Two women, Otsuji (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) and Oyű (Nakamura Kanjaku), who travel annually to Edo to sell the cloth that they weave encounter a young couple. Moved by the spirit of romance, Otsuji spends all the money that she has made for a once in a lifetime meeting with a fabulously handsome Kabuki actor (Kataoka Ainosuke).
  • Sumidagawa:
    (The Sumida River)
    One of the most famous musical plays in Kabuki with a deep and universal theme. A mother wanders in madness searching for her son, stolen away by a slave trader. She comes to the Sumida River and encounters a boatman who tells her a sad story about a small boy who died on the road here. Much to her shock, this is none other than her own child. Staring Sakata T˘jűr˘ as the mother and Nakamura Kanjaku as the boatman.
  • Kirare Yosa: Yosabur˘ (Kataoka Nizaemon), the refined young son of a wealthy merchant falls in love with Otomi (Nakamura Tokiz˘) the moment he first sees her on the beach. But Otomi is the mistress of a powerful gangster, and when their relationship is discovered, the two are attacked. Yosabur˘ is cut from head to toe and the two are dumped into the sea. Otomi lives and is taken in by a rich merchant while Yosabur˘ is now covered with scars. Yosabur˘ turns into a petty thief and extortionist but one day, finds that the woman he is about to blackmail is none other than Otomi, alive and well. Featuring also Onoe Kikugor˘ (K˘mori Yasu), Ichikawa Sadanji (Tazaemon) and Band˘ Mitsugor˘ (Kingor˘).
  • Sanmon: though short, this play is one of the most visually spectacular in Kabuki. The famous villain Ishikawa Goemon (Kataoka Gat˘) enjoys a sea of cherry blossoms while sitting on top the large gate of Nanzenji Temple. His enjoyment of the scene is cut short, though, by the appearance below of his arch-nemesis, the general Mashiba Hisayoshi (Kataoka Hidetar˘).
  • Sanemori Monogatari: a play about the early days of the rivalry between the Genji and Heike warrior clans. The warrior Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori (Onoe Kikugor˘) has been charged by the leaders of the dominant Heike clan with finding Aoi Gozen, the pregnant wife of the leader of the enemy Genji clan. He is to kill her child if it is a son who can succeed to head of the clan, but old loyalties to the Genji lead him to protect the boy. Sanemori tells the story of how Koman, the daughter of the old couple who is protecting Aoi Gozen, bravely fought to protect the sacred standard of the Genji from the Heike. Koman mysteriously comes back to life when her severed arm is rejoined to it. Featuring also Ichikawa Sadanji and Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Senoo Jűr˘ and Koman.
  • Sengoku Yashiki: there are few plays more popular in Kabuki than "Chűshingura" or "the Treasury of the Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers," the story of a true incident when a samurai lord attacked another in the Sh˘gunĺs palace, was immediately sentenced to ritual suicide and his domain confiscated. After much hardship, forty-seven of the lordĺs retainers avenged their lordĺs death. When the event occurred, it was a sensation because it proved that despite a century of peace, samurai values had not disappeared completely. But when the event was dramatized, censorship and the fact that so little was actually known about the historical event forced the play to depend on easily understandable melodrama. In the modern period, from 1934 to 1941 even as Japan was at war in China and then plunged in World War II, Mayama Seika (1878~1948) painstakingly reworked this play into "Genroku Chűshingura", a vast cycle of plays in ten parts focusing on different incidents and different characters in this revenge classic adding historical details reflecting the Genroku period. After the successful attack on Kiraĺs mansion, the former retainers of Asano present themselves to the shogunate for judgment. Lord Sengoku (Band˘ Mitsugor˘), an official of the shogunate questions Kuranosuke (Kataoka Nizaemon) about the incident and gradually comes to admire him as he realizes how thoughtful and careful Kuranosuke was in planning the attack and justifying their cause. Featuring also Ichikawa Danz˘ and Kataoka Ainosuke.
  • Kisen: "Kisen" is part of a series of dances showing the six poetic geniuses of ancient Japan. The five male poets are all shown as being in love with the sixth, Ono no Komachi, one of the most famous beauties of Japan. The other dances are set in ancient Japan, but this dance suddenly jumps to the Edo period where the poet-priest Kisen wanders intoxicated by the beauties of the cherry blossoms and of Okaji, a tea stand waitress. Starring Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as Kisen and Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Okaji.
  • Rakuda: this is a popular dramatization of a rakugo comic story. A petty gang boss named Rakuda (Nakamura Kikaku) has died after eating blowfish. Hanji (???), one of his gang members, finds him and hopes to bury him, but has no money. When he tries to get the neighbors to contribute, everyone is overjoyed that such a nuisance is dead, but won't contribute a cent towards his burial. Finally Hanji pulls in a passing waste paper collector named Kyűroku (Nakamura Kanjaku) and forces him to carry around Rakuda's body and threaten to make it dance if the neighbors won't pay up. They get a great sum of money and start drinking together. But as he drinks, the hapless Kyűroku becomes surprisingly aggressive.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Heisei Nakamuraza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 December 2011 (Jűnigatsu ďkabuki)
    December Grand Kabuki

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami

  • Kurumabiki
  • Ga no Iwai
  • Terakoya
  • Evening

    Ashiya D˘man ďuchi Kagami (Kuzu-no-Ha)

    Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Seki no To

    Matsuura no Taiko


    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Onoe Kikunosuke, , Band˘ Yajűr˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Onoe Matsuya, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Toranosuke


    The Heisei Nakamuraza is back in T˘ky˘ in the popular district of Asakusa. This time, it is a 7-month project (performances up to May 2012!) for this temporary theater built within the Sumida Park.

  • Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami:
    (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
    Sugawara no Michizane (known in this play as Kan Sh˘j˘) was a high-ranking imperial court minister who was a brilliant calligrapher and scholar. But political rivalries forced him to be exiled to distant Kyűshű, where he died. After Michizane's death, a series of disasters in the imperial capital were attributed to his angry spirit and he was appeased by being made a god known as Tenjin, and he is now revered as the god of learning. His story was dramatized as an epic puppet drama in 1746 and the play remains a favorite in both Kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theatre.
  • Kurumabiki:
    (The Tug-of-War Over the Carriage)
    There are three brothers serving three masters. Ume˘maru serves Kan Sh˘j˘. Sakuramaru serves imperial prince Tokiyo. Kan Sh˘j˘ has been sent into exile and Tokiyo is in disgrace. Ume˘maru (Nakamura Kantar˘) and Sakuramaru (Onoe Kikunosuke) lament the disaster that has overtaken their masters. But they hear that the carriage of Fujiwara no Shihei (Kataoka Kamez˘) is coming. Shihei is the villain that has sent Kan Sh˘j˘ into exile. But when the two brothers confront the carriage, they are stopped by their brother Matsu˘maru (Band˘ Yajűr˘), who serves Shihei. Nonetheless, they attack the carriage and are driven back by the magical powers of Shihei. The three brothers agree to meet again at the seventieth birthday of their father, Shiratayű.
  • Ga no Iwai:
    (The Birthday Celebration)
    Shiratayű has long served Kan Sh˘j˘ and when he had three sons, he named them after the favorite trees in his garden, the pine (matsu), the plum (ume) and the cherry (sakura) and had them all take service with important court nobles. However, the three lords of his sons have all been torn to separate sides. Today is Shiratayű's birthday and all three sons are to come. Chiyo (Onoe Matsuya), Matsu˘maru's wife, Haru (Band˘ Shingo), Ume˘maru's wife, and Yae (Nakamura Shichinosuke), Sakuramaru's wife, all prepare festive food for the happy event. Since the brothers haven't arrived yet, Shiratayű (Band˘ Yajűr˘) goes away with Yae to a shrine to pray. Matsu˘maru (Kataoka Kamez˘) and Ume˘maru (Nakamura Kantar˘) appear and immediately start wrestling with each other, almost like mischievous children. They accidentally break the branches of the cherry tree, an omen prefiguring the tragic conclusion of this act. Sakuramaru (Onoe Kikunosuke) commits ritual suicide to atone for being responsible for Kan Sh˘j˘'s exile.
  • Terakoya:
    (The Village School)
    Genz˘ (Onoe Kikunosuke) and his wife Tonami (Nakamura Shichinosuke) run a small school and are protecting Kan Sh˘j˘'s son and heir, saying that he is their son. However, word has gotten out Kan Sh˘j˘'s son is there and Genz˘ has been ordered to behead him. Moreover, Matsu˘maru (Nakamura Kanzabur˘) is to come to inspect the head. Their only alternative is to kill one of the other students as a substitute, but all of the students are farmer's children who could never pass for the son of a court aristocrat. However, a new boy arrives that day and Genz˘ makes the terrible decision to kill him in the place of his lord. As it turns out, Matsu˘maru has sent his own son to be sacrificed, because of his family's long loyalty to Kan Sh˘j˘. But he must face the most terrible situation for a father, inspecting the head of his own son and lying when he says that it is the genuine head of the son of Kan Sh˘j˘. Finally Matsu˘maru reveals his true feelings to Genz˘ and he and his wife Chiyo (Nakamura Senjaku) mourn their dead son.
  • Kuzu-no-Ha: Abe no Yasuna, a court astrologer in disgrace, has married a beautiful woman named Kuzu-no-Ha, not knowing that she is actually a fox that has taken human form to repay his kindness in saving his life. The couple has a child and lives happily together until the real woman whose form the fox borrowed appears. Knowing that she can no longer stay, Kuzu-no-Ha writes a tearful farewell poem on the paper screen and returns to the wilderness. Starring Nakamura Senjaku as Kuzu-no-Ha and Onoe Matsuya as Yasuna. Featuring also Kataoka Kamez˘ as Shinoda no Sh˘ji.
  • Seki no To:
    (The Snowbound Barrier)
    A snow-covered barrier decorated by a mysteriously blooming cherry tree provides the background for the larger-than-life story of a traitorous aristocrat disguised as a barrier guard and the beautiful woman, actually a supernatural spirit in disguise, that will defeat him. Onoe Kikunosuke (the keisei Sumizome, in reality the spirit of Komachi's cherry tree), Nakamura Kantar˘ (Sekibŕ, in reality ďtomo no Kuronushi), Nakamura Shichinosuke (Ono no Komachi) and Nakamura Senjaku (Yoshimine Munesada) star in what is considered to be one of the greatest Kabuki dance-dramas.
  • Matsuura no Taiko: Lord Matsuura (Nakamura Kanzabur˘) lives next door to the enemy of the loyal retainers and is disgusted because they do not seem to be interested in avenging the death of the lord. He is especially upset because he studied with the same fighting teacher as Kuranosuke, the senior retainer who should be leading the vendetta. Moreover, he learns from the haiku teacher Takarai Kikaku (Band˘ Yajűr˘) that his student ďtaka Gengo (Onoe Kikunosuke) who should be part of the vendetta left a poem suggesting that he was forgetting his former lord and going to take service with another samurai lord. Gengo's sister Onui (Nakamura Shichinosuke) serves Lord Matsuura and in disgust he is about to dismiss her, when there is a disturbance from next door. The attack has begun, and in joy, Lord Matsuura counts out the strokes of the drum, struck in a pattern that is only known by students of his fighting teacher.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 26 December 2011

    Genroku Chűshingura

  • Edo-j˘ no Ninj˘
  • Ohama Goten Tsunatoyo-ky˘
  • ďishi Saigo no Ichinichi
  • Casting

    Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Matagor˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Utae, ďtani Keiz˘, Nakamura Matsue, Sawamura Yoshijir˘, Nakamura Tamatar˘, Nakamura Yonekichi, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Nakamura Takanosuke


  • Genroku Chűshingura: there are few plays more popular in Kabuki than "Chűshingura" or "the Treasury of the Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers," the story of a true incident when a samurai lord attacked another in the Sh˘gunĺs palace, was immediately sentenced to ritual suicide and his domain confiscated. After much hardship, forty-seven of the lordĺs retainers avenged their lordĺs death. When the event occurred, it was a sensation because it proved that despite a century of peace, samurai values had not disappeared completely. But when the event was dramatized, censorship and the fact that so little was actually known about the historical event forced the play to depend on easily understandable melodrama. In the modern period, from 1934 to 1941 even as Japan was at war in China and then plunged in World War II, Mayama Seika (1878~1948) painstakingly reworked this play into "Genroku Chűshingura", a vast cycle of plays in ten parts focusing on different incidents and different characters in this revenge classic adding historical details reflecting the Genroku period. To commemorate the forty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the National Theatre, typical author of Kabuki is taken up every month. This month: Mayama Seika.
  • Edo-j˘ no Ninj˘:
    (The Attack in Edo Castle)
    This play begins right after the attack and follows the interrogation of Asano Takumi-no-Kami (Nakamura Baigyoku) by Tamura Uky˘dayű (Nakamura T˘z˘) and culminates in Asanoĺs ritual suicide.
  • Ohama Goten Tsunatoyo-ky˘:
    (The Ohama Palace and Lord Tokugawa Tsunatoyo)
    One of the most popular parts of this play shows Tsunatoyo (Nakamura Kichiemon), who will be the next Sh˘gun, seemingly detached from the vendetta, but in fact, intensely interested in the progress of the quest of the band of loyal retainers. The play culminates in a confrontation between Tsunatoyo and Tominomori Sukeemon (Ichikawa Somegor˘), one of the retainers as Tsunatoyo tries to find out what the plans for the vendetta are. With Nakamura Shibajaku as Okiyo, Nakamura Kaishun as Ejima and Nakamura Baigyoku as Tsunatoyoĺs teacher Arai Kageyű.
  • ďishi Saigo no Ichinichi:
    (The Last Day of ďishi Kuranosuke's Life)
    "ďishi Saigo no Ichinichi is a particularly popular play, which is often performed independently and although it is the last play in the cycle, was the first to be written and its success inspired the cycle of plays. In this play. ďishi Kuranosuke (Nakamura Kichiemon) is shown being torn between the severe samurai duty that has made their mission a success and the desire to let a young couple meet one last time before they must die. The masterless samurai of the Ak˘ clan have successfully completed their unauthorized vendetta and are being housed at the mansion of a samurai lord while their fate is being decided. The vendetta has caused a sensation and a young boy comes to meet the men as they are imprisoned. The boy turns out to be a woman in disguise, Omino (Nakamura Shibajaku), hoping to meet her betrothed, Jűr˘zaemon (Nakamura Kinnosuke), one of the group. But until they know whether they will be able to have honorable deaths by ritual suicide or die by execution like common criminals, the leader of the group ďishi Kuranosuke, cannot allow her to meet her fiance.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Nissay Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 7 ~ 25 December 2011 (Jűnigatsu ďkabuki)
    December Grand Kabuki

    Goban Tadanobu







    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Onoe Sh˘roku


    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku, 3 great-grandsons of Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VII, celebrate together the 100th anniversary of the last shűmei of their great-grandfather (who took the name of Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VII in November 1911)!

  • Goban Tadanobu:
    (Go-Board Wielding Tadanobu)
    This is an extremely rare performance bombastic aragoto routine from the earliest days of Kabuki that shows the heroic warrior Tadanobu fighting using a go-board (goban) as his weapon. Although it has not been performed in many years, it was inserted as a routine in various Kabuki plays in the Edo period and became a special favorite of Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VII. Featuring Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the roles of Sat˘ Shiroby˘e Tadanobu and Yokawa no Zenji Kakuhan.
  • Ibaraki: there are many legends about the demon-quelling warrior Watanabe Tsuna. He struggled with a demon on top of the Rash˘mon gate into Ky˘to and only escaped by cutting the demon's arm off. This dance shows Tsuna (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) as he is staying locked up in his house on the instructions of a fortune-teller since the demon is sure to come to try to recover the arm. Tsuna's old nurse (Onoe Sh˘roku) appears and at first he must turn her away, but finally Tsuna relents and lets her in. She dances of the years she took care of the young Tsuna, but oddly enough, she only uses one hand as she dances. Finally she reveals that she is actually the demon, come back to recover its arm.
  • Shikorobiki:
    (The Tug of War Over the Armor)
    In the wars between the Genji and Heike clans, an episode at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani became famous. Kagekiyo (Ichikawa Somegor˘) on the Heike side and Mionoya (Onoe Sh˘roku) on the Genji side fought and when halberds and swords proved ineffective, one grabbed the flap of the other's helmet and they tugged back and forth until the flap of the armor tore off and they both fell on the ground. They laughed praising the other's strength and that began the battle in earnest. This play is a kind of parody of that incident. In a hut on Mt. Maya above present day K˘be, a beggar and a pilgrim meet and chat and suddenly, a treasure of the Heike clan appears. As they fight over the treasure, it falls off the mountain. The two follow it and eventually re-enact the tug of war over the armor.
  • K˘j˘: the close relationship between the actors and the audience is shown by these stage announcements, lavish ceremonies to commemorate various important events. In this case, 3 great-grandsons of late Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VII assemble to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last shűmei of their great-grandfather.
  • Kanjinch˘: probably the most popular Kabuki play today, it includes dance, comedy and the heart-warming pathos of a band of heroes during their last days. Disguised as a band of traveling priests the fugitive general Yoshitsune and his small band of retainers are stopped at a road barrier. They escape only through the quick thinking of the head retainer, a warrior priest named Musashib˘ Benkei, who improvises the text of an elaborate imperial decree. Having escaped danger Benkei and the others describe their days of glory and hardships on the road to escape in a moving dance. This program stars Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the role of Benkei, with Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide website
    Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website for "Goban Tadanobu" and "Shikorobiki"

    K˘rakukan (Kosaka)
    Dates 10 ~ 11 December 2011 (Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Tokubetsu Buy˘ K˘en)
    Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Special Dance Performances


    Aoi no Ue



    Band˘ Tamasabur˘


    Short Buy˘ performances, starring Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in 3 of his favorite dances. He performs in Kosaka (Akita prefecture) at the K˘rakukan, the oldest operating traditional Kabuki theatre in Japan. These performances should have happened in March 2011, but a consequence of the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster, the shows at the K˘rakukan were canceled!

    Zenshinza Tour
    Dates 1 ~ 15 December 2011

    Mizusawa no Ichiya



    Arashi Keishi, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Arashi Yoshisabur˘, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Ikushima Kigor˘, Matsunami Kihachir˘


    The Zenshinza troupe is on tour all over Japan. "Mizusawa no Ichiya" is not a Kabuki drama. Only "Kenuki":

  • Kenuki: in this play, which retains the light, festive atmosphere of early-period Kabuki, a princess has a mysterious ailment that makes her hair stand on end, an ailment that prevents her from carrying out her long-awaited marriage. Kumedera Danj˘ comes from the groom's household to investigate and finds a plot to take over the household when his tweezers float in mid-air. Arashi Keishi stars in a play that features the bombastic aragoto style of acting.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

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