FEBRUARY 2024

3 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, Shinbashi Enbuj˘), 2 in Nagoya (Misonoza), 2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 1 in Fukuoka (Hakataza)!

  • Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Matagor˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Baishi and Nakamura Kotar˘ perform at the Kabukiza !
  • Living National Treasure Nakamura Baigyoku, Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Ichikawa Shinnosuke, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Kaishun, Ichikawa Udanji, Ichikawa Omez˘, Ichimura Manjir˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘ and Ichimura Kakitsu perform at the Misonoza !
  • Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kazutar˘ and Onoe Ukon perform at the Sh˘chikuza!
  • Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and Ichikawa Somegor˘ perform at the Hakataza!
  • Ichikawa Chűsha, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura Hayato, Ichikawa Danko, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Nakamura Yonekichi, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Emisabur˘ and Ichikawa Emiya perform at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘!
  • Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 February 2024
    Saruwakasai Nigatsu ďkabuki
    Saruwaka Festival February Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Shinpan Utazaimon (Nozaki-mura)

    Tsuri Onna

    Kagotsurube Sato no Eizame

    Evening

    Saruwaka Edo no Hatsuyagura

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Sushiya)

    Renjishi

    Casting

    Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Matagor˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Kotar˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Band˘ Kamez˘, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Mantar˘, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘

    Comments

    The February Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza. The two programs commemorate the 12th anniversary (13th memorial service) of the passing away of Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVIII, who passed away the 5th of December 2012.

  • Nozaki-mura: a farm girl Omitsu (Nakamura Tsurumatsu) is busy planning her marriage to Hisamatsu (Nakamura Shichinosuke) who has just returned to the country after leaving his post in the city in disgrace. Suddenly Osome (Nakamura Kotar˘) appears. She is the daughter of the rich merchant Hisamatsu served and their love affair was the cause of his disgrace. Despite the best efforts of Hisamatsu's father Kyűsaku (Band˘ Yajűr˘), the course of true love cannot be changed. Omitsu decides to sacrifice her own love and to become a nun to save the young couple who would rather die than be separated.
  • Tsuri Onna: a dance based on a classical Ky˘gen farce. A master (Nakamura Mantar˘) longs for a wife and is told by the gods in a dream to go fishing for one. He is united with a beautiful princess (Band˘ Shingo). His servant Tar˘kaja (Nakamura Shid˘) wants a wife as well, but when he goes fishing, is stuck with a very surprising companion, played by Nakamura Shikan in a rare, humorous, female role.
  • Kagotsurube: one of the most sensational plays of late Kabuki, it shows a humble, pockmarked merchant from the country named Sano Jir˘zaemon (Nakamura Kankur˘). He is wealthy, but because of the way he looks, has never thought that it would be possible to have a woman. He and his servant go sightseeing in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters and a chance look at top courtesan Yatsuhashi (Nakamura Shichinosuke) who smiles at him, makes Jir˘zaemon fall in love. However, the pleasure quarters are full of intrigue, and on the eve of the day that Jir˘zaemon is to buy up Yatsuhashi's contract, her true love Einoj˘ (Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon) forces her to reject and humiliate Jir˘zaemon in the middle of the celebratory banquet. Jir˘zaemon seems to forgive her, but returns with the sword Kagotsurube to exact his revenge. Featuring also Living National Treasure Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Tokiz˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku.
  • Edo no Hatsuyagura: on its journey to Edo the troupe led by Izumo no Okuni (Nakamura Shichinosuke) and Saruwaka (Nakamura Kantar˘) which is popular in Ky˘to encounters the lumber merchant Manbŕ (Nakamura Shikan). He is on his way to present an offering to the shogunate family, but he is held up by ruffians. Saruwaka summons the young actors of his troupe and takes the lead in having them carry Manbŕ's offering. The magistrate gives Saruwaka an estate at Nakabashi in Edo as a reward, permits him to perform plays there and orders Manbŕ to build a theatre. Saruwaka rejoices at this and in return he performs a dance. Featuring also Nakamura Fukusuke and Nakamura Shid˘.
  • Sushiya: this is one act of an epic originally written for the Bunraku puppet theatre. The full-length play shows the fate of various Taira generals in hiding after the victory of their enemy, the Genji. In this act, Koremori (Nakamura Tokiz˘), the heir to the Taira clan is hiding in a sushi shop disguised as a humble apprentice, and Osato (Nakamura Baishi), the daughter of the house, falls in love with him. However, Gonta (Nakamura Shikan), the evil son of the house plots to gain a reward by turning in Koremori to the top Genji general Kajiwara (Nakamura Matagor˘), but in the end, he has a surprising change of heart in one of the most heart-rending scenes in Kabuki. Also featuring Living National Treasure Nakamura Karoku as Yazaemon, the proprietor of the sushi shop.
  • Renjishi: 2 entertainers dance a tale of the legendary shishi or lion-like spirits that live at the foot of a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a comic interlude with 2 Buddhist pilgrims. Then, the shishi themselves appear and perform their dance with wild shaking of their long manes. The dance shows a parent shishi forcing his cub to undergo harsh training in order to grow up strong. This theme is often associated with the training a parent actor gives his son. This performance features Nakamura Kankur˘ in the role of the parent shishi and his son Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘ in the role of the cub.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Misonoza (Nagoya)
    Dates 1 ~ 17 February 2024
    Nigatsu Misonoza ďkabuki
    February Misonoza Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Sannin Kichisa Tomoe no Shiranami
    (ďkawabata K˘shinzuka)

    Waki Noboru Mizu-ni Koi Taki (Koi Tsukami)

    Uir˘ Uri

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Yoshinoyama)

    Evening

    Aioi Jishi

    Keian Taiheiki (Marubashi Chűya)

    K˘j˘

    Kanjinch˘

    Casting

    Living National Treasure Nakamura Baigyoku, Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Ichikawa Shinnosuke, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Kaishun, Ichikawa Udanji, Ichikawa Omez˘, Ichimura Manjir˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichimura Kakitsu, Ichikawa Kudanji, ďtani Hiromatsu, Nakamura Kangyoku, Nakamura Tamatar˘, Ichikawa Otora

    Comments

    The shűmei of Ichikawa Danjűr˘ XIII and the hatsubutai of Ichikawa Shinnosuke VIII in Nagoya at the Misonoza.

  • Sannin Kichisa:
    (Three Thieves Named Kichisa)
    The playwright Kawatake Mokuami excelled at portrayals of thieves and this short scene, with its music and poetic lines, is one of his most famous. A beautiful young woman helps out a woman who is lost on the road. But she is actually Oj˘ Kichisa, a male thief who is disguised as a woman. He steals an immense sum of money that the woman is carrying and this leads to an encounter on this riverbank of three thieves, all with the name Kichisa. The two others Kichisa are Osh˘ Kichisa, a bonze turned thief, and Ob˘ Kichisa, an ex-samurai turned thief Though they start out as rivals, they decide to become blood brothers and form a gang. Featuring Nakamura Kangyoku/ďtani Hiromatsu as Oj˘ Kichisa, Ichikawa Omez˘ as Osh˘ Kichisa and ďtani Hiromatsu/Nakamura Kangyoku as Ob˘ Kichisa.
  • Koi Tsukami: a koi tsukami is a spectacular scene in a Kabuki drama, where a hero fights in real water (honmizu) the spirit of a giant carp. During the Edo period, it was developped by the Onoe clan, from Onoe Kikugor˘ I to Onoe Kikugor˘ III through Onoe Sh˘roku I. In modern times, it became the trademark of the Ichikawa Udanji line. "Waki Noboru Mizu-ni Koi Taki", a rarely-staged drama, was premiered in September 1914 at the Hong˘za of the drama "Waki Noboru Mizu-ni Koi Taki" [more details] and it used the sekai of the Priest Seigen and the Princess Sakura. Starring Ichikawa Udanji and Nakamura Tamatar˘ in the roles of Takimado Shiganosuke (in reality the spirit of a giant carp) and Princess Kozakura.
  • Uir˘ Uri: there are many plays based on the revenge by the Soga brothers on Kud˘ Suketsune (Living National Treasure Nakamura Baigyoku), the man that arranged to have their father killed. In this particular play, this dramatic fight is transformed into light fantasy by showing one of the Soga brothers disguised as a peddler of uir˘, a medicine that makes it possible to speak quickly and elegantly. The highlight of the play is a long speech full of puns and wordplays. Starring Ichikawa Shinnosuke as the peddler. Also featuring Nakamura Kaishun, Ichikawa Omez˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichimura Manjir˘ and Ichimura Kakitsu.
  • Yoshinoyama: a dance travel scene from the epic "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura". Now in exile and disgrace, Yoshitsune has left his lover Shizuka in the safekeeping of his trusted retainer Tadanobu. But she is unaware that this Tadanobu is actually a magical fox who has disguised himself to be near the treasured drum that Shizuka carries, a drum made from the skins of his fox parents. Starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as Tadanobu, with Nakamura Jakuemon as Shizuka. Featuring also Ichikawa Kudanji as Hayami no T˘ta.
  • Aioi Jishi: shishi (mythical lion-like spirits) are usually thought of as vigorous masculine creatures, but when shishi dances were first adapted for Kabuki from the classical theatre, they were danced by actors portraying an elegant, feminine atmosphere. This dance is one of the earliest in the genre and stars onnagata female role specialists. Featuring ďtani Hiromatsu and Nakamura Kangyoku.
  • Marubashi Chűya: this is a classic play by Kawatake Mokuami written in the Meiji Period, when Kabuki could show historical events. This is the story of Marubashi Chűya (Ichikawa Omez˘), who plotted to overthrow the Edo government. He approaches Edo Castle pretending to be drunk, but has actually come to measure the depth of the moat. Unfortunately, he is observed by Izu-no-Kami (Ichikawa Udanji), one of the top officials of the shogunate. Later, Chűya has a dispute with his wife and his wife's father, that eventually leads to the failure of his revolt.
  • 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, all the stars of the cast assemble to celebrate the shűmei of Ichikawa Danjűr˘ XIII and the hatsubutai of Ichikawa Shinnosuke VIII.
  • 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 Danjűr˘ in the role of Benkei, with Nakamura Jakuemon and Onoe Kikunosuke as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 2 ~ 18 February 2024
    ďsaka Kokusai Bunka Geijutsu Purojekuto ~ Risshun Kabuki Tokubetsu K˘en
    ďsaka International Culture and Arts Project ~ First Day of Spring Special Kabuki Performances
    MatinÚe

    Genpei Nunobiki no Taki

    Evening

    Shinpan Ukina no Yomiuri (Choinose)

    Renjishi

    Sonezaki Shinjű

    Casting

    Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Onoe Ukon, Kamimura Kichiya, Nakamura Kikaku, Nakamura Toranosuke

    Comments

    Special Kabuki performances in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza, as part of the 2024 ďsaka International Culture and Arts Project, to celebrate the new year.

  • Genpei Nunobiki no Taki: a play in 3 acts about the early days of the rivalry between the Genji and Heike warrior clans.
  • Yoshikata Saigo: the farmer Kurosuke takes his daughter Koman (Nakamura Kazutar˘) and his grandson Tarokichi to the warrior Kiso Yoshikata (Kataoka Ainosuke) who aims to revive the Genji clan. However, Yoshikata's ambition is found out by the Heike. As his mansion is surrounded by enemy Heike troops, he entrusts the pregnant Lady Aoi and the white banner of the Genji clan to Kurosuke and others, and dies a heroic death.
  • Chikubushima Yűran: keeping the white banner that Yoshikata entrusted to her close about her person, Koman loses sight of her father Kurosuke and others along the way. She shakes off her pursuers and jumps into Lake Biwa with the white banner. Noticing her, Heike warriors who have come to visit the shrine on Chikubu Island on the pleasure boat try to rescue her, but the warrior Sait˘ Sanemori (ACT) who is on another boat suddenly cuts off Koman's arm.
  • Sanemori Monogatari: Yoshikata's widow Lady Aoi takes shelter at Kurosuke's house on Lake Biwa. Kurosuke and his grandson Tarokichi have been fishing and bring home a woman's severed arm holding a white banner, the treasured symbol of the Genji clan. Two Heike samurai, Sait˘ Sanemori and Senoo Jűr˘ (Nakamura Ganjir˘), arrive to interrogate Lady Aoi who is pregnant. As the baby boy of the Genji warrior is to be killed, Kurosuke wraps the woman's arm in baby clothes and insists that Lady Aoi gave birth to it. Hearing that, Senoo is enraged, but it is none other than Sanemori who stops Senoo and tries to convince him of it.
  • Choinose: Osome (Onoe Ukon) of the Aburaya pawnshop is in love with Hisamatsu (Nakamura Kazutar˘), a shop apprentice. She is at a loss as her mother tells her to marry Yamagaya Seibŕ (Kataoka Ainosuke). The head clerk Zenroku (Nakamura Ganjir˘) is secretly in love with Osome though he is much older than her. He plots with Matsuya Gen'emon (Nakamura Kikaku) to take over the Aburaya pawnshop, but Seibŕ prevents all of their schemes. Playing the role of the comical character Zenroku requires the acting style of Kamigata Kabuki, and ningy˘buri (a way of Kabuki acting which imitates the exaggerated motions of the puppets in the Bunraku puppet theatre) is one of the highlights.
  • Renjishi: 2 entertainers dance a tale of the legendary shishi or lion-like spirits that live at the foot of a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a comic interlude with 2 Buddhist pilgrims. Then, the shishi themselves appear and perform their dance with wild shaking of their long manes. The dance shows a parent shishi forcing his cub to undergo harsh training in order to grow up strong. This theme is often associated with the training a parent actor gives his son. This performance features Nakamura Senjaku in the role of the parent shishi and his son Nakamura Toranosuke in the role of the cub.
  • Sonezaki Shinjű: a young merchant named Tokubŕ has long been in love with the courtesan Ohatsu and is diligently trying to buy out her contract. But he is swindled out of his money by someone he considered a friend. Then he is beaten and humiliated in the precincts of the Ikutama shrine. He sneaks into the teahouse where Ohatsu is and she hides him under the veranda. At this point, Tokubŕ's "friend" comes and calls him a criminal. Ohatsu fiercely defends Tokubŕ and asks whether he is prepared to defend his honor by committing love suicide. Silently, from under the veranda, he holds her bare foot and draws it across his neck. The journey to the forest where they commit love suicide is like a dream, half-way between this world and the next and has some of the most famous lines in Japanese theatre: "Farewell to this world and to this night, farewell. To what should we who go to our deaths be likened? We are like the frost on the road leading to the graveyard, vanishing with each step". Starring Onoe Ukon and Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the roles of Tokubŕ and Ohatsu.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Hakataza (Fukuoka)
    Dates 3 ~ 18 February 2024
    Nigatsu Hanagata Kabuki
    February Young Actors Kabuki
    Program

    Edo no Yami Ayashi no Kagizume [In Japanese]
    (Akechi Kogor˘ to Ningenhy˘)

    U no Tonosama

    Casting

    Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Matsumoto Kingo, Sawamura S˘nosuke, ďtani Hirotar˘, Kawai Yukinoj˘

    Comments

    A special program in Fukuoka at the Hakataza starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and his son Ichikawa Somegor˘. The drama "Edo no Yami Ayashi no Kagizume", based on "Ningenhy˘" ('The Were-Panther' in English), a novel of Edogawa Rampo, was premiered in November 2008 at the National Theatre.

  • Edo no Yami Ayashi no Kagizume: there are few writers who have been more popular than Edogawa Rampo (1894~1965). His pen name is based on Edgar Allan Poe and he introduced detective stories to Japan with his super detective Akechi Kogor˘. The writer also was a master of the grotesque and erotic and created characters with strange passions, masquerading as chairs to get close to the beloved, trying to preserve the bodies of beautiful men and women by turning them into perfect looking mannequins. The November 2008 production at the National Theatre is a very unusual event, a new Kabuki play that dramatizes one of Edogawa Rampoĺs most haunting and popular novels, "Ningen Hy˘" ("The Were-Panther") about a man who has the lustful and bloodthirsty tastes of an animal and even resembles a leopard, with glittering eyes, huge mouth and sharp teeth. He stalks the women that are nearest and dearest to Kamiya Yoshinosuke and comes to battle the master detective Akechi Kogor˘. Starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Akechi Kogor˘ and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as the villain.
  • U no Tonosama: this is midsummer season. In order to beat the heat, a daimy˘ (Ichikawa Somegor˘) orders his servant Tar˘kaja (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) to perform a cool game called ukai ('cormorant fishing'). In the game, the daimy˘'s koshimoto pretend to be sweetfish and they watch a cormorant catch a sweetfish, but soon the daimy˘ joins in the imitation of cormorant fishing. So, Tar˘kaja takes on the role of a cormorant belonging to a daimy˘ who is not familiar at all with cormorant fishing, instructing all on the fishing techniques unique to the art of ukai.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 4 February ~ 20 March 2024
    Hatsuharu Kabuki K˘en
    Early Spring Kabuki Performances
    Program

    Yamato Takeru

    Casting

    Ichikawa Chűsha, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura Hayato, Ichikawa Danko, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Nakamura Yonekichi, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa Juen, Ichikawa Seiko, Nakamura Fukunosuke, Nakamura Utanosuke, Kashima Noritoshi

    Comments

    Revival of the famous SűpÔ Kabuki drama "Yamato Takeru", a classic of the Omodakaya guild, in T˘ky˘ at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘. In the absence of Ichikawa Ennosuke, the eponymous role of Yamato Takeru is played by either Nakamura Hayato or Ichikawa Ennosuke III's grandson Ichikawa Danko.

  • Yamato Takeru: One of twin brothers, Prince Ousu (Nakamura Hayato/Ichikawa Danko), attempts to admonish his brother, Prince ďusu (Ichikawa Danko/Nakamura Hayato), who is plotting rebellion. However, in his attempt to restrain his brother, Prince Ousu accidentally takes his life. Unaware of the circumstances, their father, the Emperor (Ichikawa Chűsha), becomes enraged and orders Prince Ousu to embark on a campaign to subdue the Kumaso people who refuse to submit to Yamato. The wife of Prince ďusu, Princess Etachibana (Nakamura Yonekichi), pursues Prince Ousu as her husband's avenger. However, as she discovers Osuĺs pure and gentle heart, she begins to admire him and eventually develops feelings for him, despite their initial adversarial relationship. Having arrived in Kumaso, Prince Osu successfully defeats the Takeru brothers, the leaders of the Kumaso, and in recognition of his bravery, he is bestowed with the name "Yamato Takeru" by the Kumaso Takeru. Joyfully returning to Yamato, Takeru finds that the Emperor still has not forgiven him, and he is now tasked with a campaign to subdue the Ezo people. Accompanied by the Great Lord Takehiko (Nakamura Fukunosuke), the journey is fraught with difficulties. Takeru is commanded to defeat the mountain deity on Mount Ibuki. This his final expedition. Takeru is attacked by a giant white boar (the manifestation of the mountain deity). He kills the boar but is cursed by a female demon and falls ill. On his return trip, Takeru dies while lamenting his long separation from and his longing for his wife Princess Ototachibana (Nakamura Yonekichi).
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

     
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