Edo-Tokyo Museum 江戸東京博物 2012年08月30日

The Nakamura-za Kabuki theater 中村座 歌舞伎

The Nakamura-za Kabuki theater in Tokyo

The Nakamura-za Kabuki theater in Tokyo

The art of kabuki, a type of stylized Japanese dance-drama, is a fascinating reflection of Japanese culture. Although it started out as a type of dance, kabuki eventually evolved into a full-blown type of theater, where its performers wear elaborate costumes and apply elaborate makeup to tell a dramatic story.

Kabuki originated in 1603 when a woman named Izumo no Okuni began performing a special new style of dance that she had created. Kabuki caught on almost instantly. Women began learning kabuki dances and performing them for audiences. Kabuki had a large impact socially as well. The dances themselves were very suggestive and, even though it didn’t start out that way, many prostitutes began learning the dances so they could attract customers. The performances started attracting bad crowds. In 1629, the government stepped in and banned women from performing the dances.

Male dancers then took over. Known as wakashu, these men were typically young and effeminate. As such, prostitution wasn’t stopped as the men were just as available as the female dancers. In 1652, the government banned young males from dancing as well since it became very common for brawls to break out at performances over them.

Kabuki really came into its own during its “Golden Age” which lasted from 1673 to 1841. The dances really began to have a formal structure and kabuki theaters began to catch on. Unlike most plays, these lasted all day from sunrise to sunset. Many theaters were destroyed again during World War II and the forces occupying the country banned kabuki. The ban only lasted until 1947, but the damage had already been done. As Japan tried to rebuild itself after the war, it began rejecting its “old ways” and kabuki was almost abandoned. However, a director began producing plays that revitalized kabuki and it remains popular today.

The male dancer hero known as wakashu 若衆

The male dancer hero known as wakashu 若衆

Female hero and the bad one...

Female hero and the bad one…

Gallery

三縁山増上寺 San’en-zan Zōjō-ji

This gallery contains 3 photos.

2012年 08月 29日 東京 Sangedatsu Gate (三解脱門 Sangedatsu Mon), 1622, Important Cultural Property: The temple’s only original structure to survive the Second World War. “San” (三) means “three”, and “Gedatsu” (解脱) means “Moksha“. If someone passes through the gate, he … Continue reading

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Morning View at Nihonbashi 歌川 広重 「日本橋 朝の景」

The repeating picture in the background represents a noted Ukiyo-e woodcut print from the famous Edo Artist Hiroshige Utamaro.

It is named “Morning View at Nihonbashi”from the series Fifty-three Stations on the Tokaido.

This is an especially appropriate design for the starting point of the Tokaido: it shows the procession of a daimyo (feudal lord) coming over the bridge in the stillness of early morning. At the left is a group of fish-sellers from the nearby fish-market. In former times Nihonbashi was considered the hub of the country, and all distances in Japan were measured from it. Today the bridge still exists (in a modern reconstruction), but the fish-market has been moved.
江戸から京都へ向かう東海道の起点である日本橋。その東海道を描いたシリーズの巻頭を飾るにふさわしく、参勤交代の大名行列が朝早く江戸を出発する様子が描かれています。一方で、魚を天秤棒で担いだ一団が、向こう岸にあった魚河岸から仕入れを終え、行商に出かける様子も描かれており、江戸で一番賑わっている早朝の日本橋の活気が伝わってきます。