Song, Dance, and Skill

Kabukiza Theatre October 7, 2014

Our next stop was Ginza. We originally wanted to catch a kabuki play at the Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre. By the time we made it to the ticket desk, the performance was already underway. The lady behind the counter was kind enough to point us to Kabukiza, the largest kabuki theater in Japan.

Kabukiza Theatre in Ginza
The theater's facade displays the architectural styles of ancient Japan and the late 16th century period.
The theater is accessible via subway to Higashi Ginza station either on the Hibiya Line or Asakusa Line.
Just had to stop for a few snapshots.
A mini shrine outside Kabukiza Theatre

It is only here that one can catch a presentation every month throughout the year. You can also choose to just see a single act play, or the Hitomaku-mi, which runs for about 30 minutes. It's great for those with limited time but want a taste of Japanese cultural entertainment. Worked perfect for us!

Schedule of performances at Kabukiza Theatre

After getting our matinee tickets, we proceeded to the 4th floor where there was standing room only. We turned on our earphone guides (available for rent) to follow along in English and gain a better appreciation of the theatrical event. Photos of the performances were strictly prohibited so we don't have any to share. There are a few available online and you can find them here.

A screenshot of the Kabuki website where you can view photos.

From where we stood, we still had a great view of the magnificent theater. Once the curtains parted, the stage came alive with the artistic backdrop, the drum beats, the costumes, and the interpretative dances.

The first single act was about Okane, a strong woman famous for stopping a runaway horse with her bare hands. Okane's dance included slight tilting of the head, short poses, and occasional stomping of the feet.

Alan whispered in my ear, "Look at the size of those feet. That's a guy."

"Yes. It's a guy," I confirmed. "There are no women in kabuki. They are all male actors."

The kabuki actor named Nakamura Senjaku moved with such grace and skill. Performers like him trained for years just to perfect the art. It's fascinating! Click on these links to see his photos with and without make-up.

In modern Japanese, "kabuki" is written using three characters:    ka - meaning "song"    bu - meaning "dance"    ki - meaning "skill"

Someday when I return to Japan, I would like to watch a full length kabuki drama. I've read that they are emotional experiences. Deeply moving. Learn more here.

Shops are found at the basement level. This is where I picked up my Good Luck Hammer.

After the show, we followed the crowd down to the basement level. It was filled with various shops with food items, unique handicrafts, kabuki-related products, and interesting souvenirs.  This is where I picked up my Good Luck Hammer. It's a lucky charm that looks like a little mallet. The belief is that it needs to be constantly moving to make your wishes come true. You can bet that I'll be swinging my good luck hammer all the way home!

This story was continued from White Tiger.


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