Latest update: 2009-05-31

Q: What is Kabuki?

A: The purpose of kabuki21.com is not to answer this question. Others sites did it very well and I would recommend you to visit them:

  • The Kabuki Story
  • Invitation to Kabuki (National Theatre)
  • KABUKI: Traditional Theatrical Arts
  • The Kabuki Story
  • Kabuki fact sheet
  • Q: What is the meaning of the word Kabuki?

    A: The word Kabuki came from the verb kabuku, which literally meant to incline in a certain direction (this verb is no more used). It also metaphorically meant to be, either in behavior or custom, different from the norm, to be likely to draw attention. The expression kabukimono was used from the end of the sixteenth century for the wild urban gangs of young eccentrics, who dressed outrageously and had strange hairstyles. Then, the gaudy and colorful stage performances of Okuni and her troupe of dancers at the beginning of the seventeenth century were called "Okuni Kabuki". Later on, the ideograms used for the word Kabuki changed. It was divided into 3 concepts: KA (music), BU (dance) and KI (acting skills).

    Q: Why Kabuki 21?

    A: kabuki.com was already used. I added 21 for 21st century and registered kabuki21.com.

    Q: Can I link to kabuki21.com?

    A: Sure! You don't have to ask. If you have time, just send us a simple mail with the URL of your site.

    Q: Is it possible to use your images?

    A: Sure, as long as it is not for a commercial project because I am not the right-owner of most of the prints hosted here. I do believe that Japanese theatre prints belong to the world heritage and should be available for free on the net.

    Q: I am (or will be soon) in Tôkyô and I would like to go to Kabuki but I don't know what to do?

    A: It is really easy. There are Kabuki programs all year long, either at the Kabukiza or at the National Theatre. English Earphone Guide Service is available for all the programs in the 2 theaters.

    • National Theatre: Kabuki in January, March (or April), June, July, October, November and December

    Q: What are the differences between shows at the Kabukiza and at the National Theatre?

    A: There are several differences:

  • Business difference: the Kabukiza is managed by a private company (the Shôchiku), whose main goal is to make profits with Kabuki. The National Theatre is managed by the Japanese State, whose main goal is to revive rare dramas or produce full length performances of well-known dramas.
  • Building difference: the Kabukiza is more traditional and really smells like an old time Kabuki theater. The National Theatre is a modern theater, which does not smell like an old time Kabuki theater. It is difficult to get a good seat at the Kabukiza and don't hope to be able to see what happen on the hanamichi if you purchase a cheap ticket. Even many expensive first-floor seats are not really good and you are likely to feel the urge to chop some heads in front of you. Space and seats are well-managed at the National Theatre and you can watch the action on the hanamichi even from the remotest seats, without being disturbed by people' heads in front of you.
  • Length: the Kabukiza programs are longer than National Theatre's ones.
  • Price (full performance): the cheapest seat at the Kabukiza is 2,520 JPY. The cheapest seat at the National Theatre is 1,500 JPY.
  • Single show: if you don't have time for a full program, it is possible at the Kabukiza to go to the fourth floor and watch only one item in the program for a really cheap price (from 600 JPY to 1000 JPY depending on the length of the item). This system does not exist at the National Theatre.
  • Q: Should I bring binoculars with me?

    A: definitively YES if you plan to purchase a second or third floor ticket. You'll be able to appreciate make-up or costum details.

    Q: I know almost nothing about Kabuki. What book would you recommand me to read before going to a Kabuki theater?

    A: I would definitively recomand you to purchase and read "A guide to the Japanese Stage" (a great book about all the theatre arts of Japan) and "Kabuki: a pocket guide" (a great beginners book on Kabuki).

    Q: Can you help me to identify my theater prints?

    A: I do not collect prints. My knowledge about prints is really bad. If the name of the actor is not written on the print or if the role is not obvious, I don't think I can help you.

    Q: Can you host my prints?

    A: Sure, as long as the actors are identified. I prefer to work with high-definition image files (any format is OK). If you send me the files, I'll integrate them within kabuki21.com.

    Q: Are you looking for specific prints?

    A: Yes, I am looking for prints of Nakamura Utaemon II, Ôtani Tomoemon III, Nakayama Bunshichi I, Yoshizawa Ayame III, Mimasu Daigorô V, Fujikawa Tomokichi I, Seki San'emon, Nakamura Denkurô III, Ôtani Hiroemon III, Arashi Sangorô IV and Yoshizawa Ayame IV.

    Q: Do you need some help in your project?

    A: Yes, I am not really good at writing summaries for Kabuki plays and dances. If you wrote some summaries in the past as part of a school/university or professional project, I would be more than delighted to integrate it within kabuki21.com (as long as it is written in English).

    Q: Is there any Kabuki DVD available for purchase?

    A: Yes, several zone-free dvds with English commentaries have been released in Japan [Far Side Music / Marty Gross Films].

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