DECEMBER 2015

2 shows in Ky˘to (Minamiza) and 3 in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre)!

Minamiza (Ky˘to)
Dates 30 November ~ 26 December 2015 (Kichirei Kaomise K˘gy˘)
Annual Festive Face-Showing Performances
MatinÚe

Goban Taiheiki (Yamashina Kankyo)

Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Yoshinoyama)

Shinjű Ten no Amijima (Kawash˘)

Tsuchi Gumo

Evening

Shinshű Kawanakajima Kassen (Terutora Haizen)

K˘j˘

Tsuchiya Chikara

Kanjinch˘

Casting

Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘, Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Kikaku, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Nakamura Baishi

Comments

The traditional kaomise in Ky˘to at the Minamiza. Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV celebrates his shűmei in this prestigious theater.

  • Yamashina Kankyo
    (The Retreat at Yamashina)
    : This is a play based on a sensational incident in the early 18th century. On March 14, 1701, for reasons unknown, Asano Takumi-no-Kami, a young samurai lord, attacked Kira K˘zuke-no-Suke, a high shogunal official, during a ceremony at the Sh˘gun's palace. The Sh˘gun was furious and Asano was forced to commit ritual suicide that very day and his domain confiscated. Asano's head retainer ďishi Kuranosuke (Nakamura Senjaku) retreats with his son Chikara (Nakamura Kazutar˘) in Yamashina in the east of Ky˘to to prepare for avenging his master's death by attacking and killing Kira. He spends his days in idleness in pleasure quarters to hide his true intention, taking every caution against spies sent from Kira. He sends back his mother and divorces his wife who visited him and scolded him for being unloyal to his deceased master. He and Chikara have seen through their servant Okahei's true identity as a spy from Kira, and Chikara stabs Okahei. Okahei (Kataoka Ainosuke) is impressed with Kuranosuke's distress and loyalty, so he discloses the arrangement inside of Kira's mansion to Kuranosuke pretending to play the game of go. Featuring also Kataoka Takatar˘ and Nakamura T˘z˘.
  • 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 Nakamura Hashinosuke as Tadanobu, with Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ as Shizuka.
  • Kawash˘: this late love suicide play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon is considered by many to be his masterpiece. The paper seller Jihŕ (Nakamura Ganjir˘) is in love with the courtesan Koharu (Nakamura Tokiz˘) and all those around them are afraid that they will commit love suicide. Jihŕĺs wife Osan urgently pleads with Koharu to pretend that she does not love Jihŕ any more, in order to save his life. In the first and most famous scene in the Kawash˘ teahouse, Jihŕĺs brother Magoemon (BaI4) masquerades as a samurai to find out Koharuĺs true feelings. Jihŕ listens in from the outside and is astonished to hear her say that she does not want to commit love suicide. In a rage, Jihŕ breaks off all relations with her, while Magoemon is moved to learn that she has done this out of consideration for Osanĺs feelings. This play is a classic example of the ďsaka style of acting. Featuring also Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke and Nakamura Kikaku.
  • Tsuchi Gumo: a dance play adapted from the classical theatre. The samurai Lord Minamoto Raik˘ is famous in legend for ridding Ky˘to of demons. While Raik˘ is confined to bed with illness, a priest (Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon) from a prominent temple comes to pray for his health. In fact, the priest is actually the spirit of the earth spider which has caused Raik˘'s illness in the first place and hopes to destroy him. The spider's plan to kill Raik˘ is defeated by his retainers (the famous shitenn˘) in an exciting fight. Featuring Nakamura Baigyoku as Raik˘. Featuring also Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Shinnosuke and Nakamura Baishi.
  • Terutora Haizen: a rare performance of a historical play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The warlord Nagao Terutora (Nakamura Baigyoku) wants the services of the great strategist Yamamoto Kansuke who is now the strategist for his rival Takeda Shingen. The wife of one of Terutora's retainers is Kansuke's sister and so Terutora invites Kansuke's wife and mother to see her. When the two women arrive, Terutora brings the food tray himself and knowing what he has in mind, the old woman Koshiji (Kataoka Hidetar˘) kicks it. The furious Terutora wants to kill them all, but is restrained by Kansuke's wife Okatsu (Nakamura Tokiz˘), who desperately defends her mother, despite the fact that she cannot speak and must express herself in koto music instead. Featuring also Nakamura Hashinosuke and Nakamura Senjaku.
  • 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 Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV.
  • Tsuchiya Chikara: this play is a specialty of the Nakamura Ganjir˘ family and features the distinctive flashy acting of Kansai actors. This month it will be performed by the younger members of this acting line. One of many stories set on the theme of the revenge of the forty-seven loyal retainers features a lord named Tsuchiya Chikara (Nakamura Ganjir˘) who 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 learns from his haiku teacher that ďtaka Gengo (Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon), one of his students 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. But in fact, this poem is a riddle hiding the secret of the vendetta. Featuring also Ichikawa Sadanji, Kataoka Takatar˘, Nakamura Kikaku and Nakamura Baishi.
  • 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 Nakamura Kazutar˘ and Kataoka Ainosuke as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 26 December 2015
    Program

    T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan

    Casting

    Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Kataoka Kamez˘, Ichimura Manjir˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Matsumoto Kingo, Nakamura Matsue, Sawamura S˘nosuke, ďtani Keiz˘, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Yonekichi, ďtani Hirotar˘, Band˘ Shingo

    Comments

    Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan" is staged in 3 acts (10 scenes), starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and his son Ichikawa Somegor˘. Most of the acts/scenes are the ones usually staged. There is one interesting add-on: the rarely-staged "At the Refuge of Oshioda Matanoj˘'s Family" as the second scene of the 3rd act, which was staged for the last time in Spring 2006 at the Cocoon Kabuki.

  • Yotsuya Kaidan: the works written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV, who represents Edo-kabuki playwrights in the Bunka-Bunsei period (1804-1830), captivated an audience through the realistic portrayal of the ordinary citizens and the customs of the Edo period as well as some wild ideas in the stage setting. Among them is a crowning work "T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan". This play had its premiere in July 1825 at the Nakamuraza Theatre in Edo along with the masterpiece "Kanadehon Chűshingura". It took two days to present all the scenes from the two dramas, each of which was divided into two and played alternately. "T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan" plays out against the backdrop of the world of "Chűshingura". The retainers who became r˘nin (masterless samurais) as the En'ya family died out after En'ya Hangan attacked K˘ no Moron˘ with a sword. The fates of the retainers and the people around them are portrayed in a sad, painful, and horrible manner. In order to highlight the background of the story, enough thought has been given to the script and the staging of this performance, such as the inclusion of the rarely-performed "Oshioda Matanoj˘ Kakurega". Tamiya Iemon, a villainous masterless samurai is in love with Oiwa and even kills her father Yotsuya Samon to be united with her, cynically promising to help her to avenge her father's death. But at the same time, the granddaughter of a wealthy doctor falls in love with him and her grandfather tries to ensure the match by sending a horrible disfiguring poison to Oiwa. In the most famous scene of the play, face destroyed, hair falling out, Oiwa carefully dresses and puts on make-up to pay a proper visit to those who have wronged her. Iemon kills Oiwa and his servant Kobotoke Kohei, has their bodies nailed to a door and thrown into the river. Iemon is happily married into the wealthy family, but no sooner does the beautiful young bride arrive than Oiwa's ghost causes Iemon to kill her. The vengeful ghosts do not rest until all of their enemies are dead and, in another famous scene, Oiwa and Kohei appear floating on the river, calling out to Iemon. The concluding scene shows the ghost of Oiwa appearing mysteriously from inside a paper lantern and pulling her enemies into the wall and disappearing magically. Matsumoto K˘shir˘ will play Iemon for the first time in 23 years, while Ichikawa Somegor˘ challenges the triple role of Oiwa, Kohei, and Yomoshichi. Featuring Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Kinnosuke and Band˘ Yajűr˘ in the roles of Oiwa's sister Osode, Oshioda Matanoj˘ and Naosuke Gonbŕ.
  • Source: National Theatre

    Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 December 2015 (Jűnigatsu ďkabuki)
    December Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Honch˘ Nijűshik˘ (Jusshuk˘)

    Akai Jinbaori

    Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Seki no To

    Evening

    Imoseyama Onna Teikin

  • Sugi Sakaya
  • Michiyuki Koi no Odamaki
  • Mikasayama Goten
  • Casting

    Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Nakamura Karoku, Ichikawa Chűsha, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Ukon, Onoe Matsuya, Nakamura Kotar˘, Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Band˘ Kametoshi, Nakamura Kamenoj˘

    Comments

    The zagashira for these two programs of the December Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza is Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘. The two highlights are the spectacular dance-drama "Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Seki no To" in the matinÚe program and a t˘shi ky˘gen production of "Imoseyama Onna Teikin" in 3 acts in the evening program. Regarding this t˘shi ky˘gen, the rarely-staged "Sugi Sakaya" act is revived. It was staged for the last time in June 1970 at the Minamiza. Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ plays the roles of the courtesan Sumizome, in reality the spirit of Komachi's cherry tree, in "Seki no To" and Omiwa in "Mikasayama Goten". The other star of this December Grand Kabuki is Nakamura Shichinosuke, who plays the roles of Princess Yaegaki, Ono no Komachi and Omiwa in "Jusshuk˘", "Seki no To" and "Sugi Sakaya"/"Koi no Odamaki".

  • Jusshuk˘: Princess Yaegaki is mourning the death of his fiance Katsuyori, but as she burns incense in his memory, she notices the resemblance between the new gardener and her fiance's portrait. The gardener is in fact Katsuyori, who has entered the household of Yaegaki's father to regain the possession of a stolen family treasure, a famous helmet, with the help of Nureginu, a woman who also mourns for the man that died in the place of the real Katsuyori. Unfortunately, Yaegaki's father has also seen through the disguise and plans to kill Katsuyori. The role of Princess Yaegaki, one of the most important onnagata roles, is played by Nakamura Shichinosuke, supported by Onoe Matsuya, Nakamura Kotar˘ and Ichikawa Ukon in the roles of Katsuyori, Nureginu and Nagao Kenshin.
  • Akai Jinbaori: the modern playwright Kinoshita Junji (1914~2006) is known for his modern dances and plays based on Japanese folk stories. This particular play shows a local magistrate who is inordinately proud of his red battle jacket, until his pride gets a few hard shocks. Starring Ichikawa Chűsha as the magistrate, with Ichikawa Monnosuke, Kamimura Kichiya and Nakamura Kotar˘.
  • 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. Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ (the keisei Sumizome, in reality the spirit of Komachi's cherry tree), Onoe Sh˘roku (Sekibŕ, in reality ďtomo no Kuronushi), Nakamura Shichinosuke (Ono no Komachi) and Onoe Matsuya (Yoshimine Munesada) star in what is considered to be one of the greatest Kabuki dance-dramas.
  • Imoseyama: "Imoseyama Onna Teikin", is a masterpiece by Chikamatsu Hanji (1725~1783) first presented in 1771 in the puppet theater. It is an epic taken from early Japanese history, weaving together history, legend and myth. The country chafes under the domination of the dictator Iruka. The two scenes from this epic classic show love and jealousy in a realm ruled by an evil dictator.
  • Sugi Sakaya:
    (The Sugi Sake Shop)
    The court nobles Fujiwara no Tankai (Onoe Matsuya) lives next to a sake shop disguised as a craftsman named Motome. But all around are seeking a reward offered by Iruka for Tankai. The handsome Motome is loved by two women: Princess Tachibana (Nakamura Kotar˘), who secretly visits him at night, and Omiwa (Nakamura Shichinosuke), the daughter of the sake shop. The two women argue over him and the princess leaves with Motome in pursuit and Omiwa following desperately after. Featuring also Ichikawa Danko in the role of the apprentice Netar˘.
  • Michiyuki Koi no Odamaki:
    (The Spool of Love)
    Motome (Onoe Matsuya), the son of an important aristocrat opposed to the rule of the dictator Soga no Iruka is secretly planning to kill him. Having disguised himself as a commoner, he has had nightly trysts with a mysterious woman, an elegant princess (Nakamura Kotar˘). In this dance, he has attached a string to her kimono to follow her and discover her identity. But Motome is followed as well by Omiwa (Nakamura Shichinosuke), the beautiful daughter of a humble sake shop owner who has fallen in love with him during his time living undercover as a humble maker of court caps.
  • Mikasayama Goten:
    (The Mikasayama Palace Scene)
    The dictator Soga no Iruka (Nakamura Karoku) has set up his own court and now seeks to destroy his opponent Kamatari. A mysterious fisherman named Fukashichi (Onoe Sh˘roku) comes as a messenger from Kamatari, claiming to bring a message of surrender. Meanwhile, Iruka's younger sister, Princess Tachibana (Nakamura Kotar˘) has fallen in love with a handsome young man named Motome (Onoe Matsuya). But Motome is actually the son of Kamatari and says that he will only grant her love if she will cut off Iruka's head. Moreover, a country girl named Omiwa (Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘) has also followed Motome. Omiwa's blood and the work of all these people combined are what is necessary to finally defeat the magical powers of the evil Iruka.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

     
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