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Kaba no Kaja Noriyori

Kaba no Kaja Noriyori or Kaba no Kanja Noriyori. This was the nickname of Minamoto no Noriyori.

In Japanese: 蒲冠者範頼

Kabuki Jűhachiban

A collection of 18 plays of the Ichikawa Danjűr˘ line of actors, selected by Ichikawa Ebiz˘ V in 1840 as the most representative plays in aragoto style:

Play First performance First performer
Fuwa 3rd lunar month of 1680 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I
Narukami 1st lunar month of 1684 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I
Shibaraku 1st lunar month of 1697 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I
Fud˘ 5th lunar month of 1697 Ichikawa Kuz˘ I
Uwanari 7th lunar month of 1699 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I
Z˘hiki 1st lunar month of 1701 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I
Kanjinch˘ 2nd lunar month of 1702 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ I
Sukeroku 4th lunar month of 1713 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II
Uir˘ Uri 1st lunar month of 1718 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II
Oshimodoshi 3rd lunar month of 1727 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II
Ya-no-Ne 1st lunar month of 1729 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II
Kagekiyo 9th lunar month of 1732 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ II
Kan U 11th lunar month of 1737 Ichikawa Ebiz˘ II
Nanatsu Men 2nd lunar month of 1740 Ichikawa Ebiz˘ II
Kenuki 1st lunar month of 1742 Ichikawa Ebiz˘ II
Gedatsu 3rd lunar month of 1760 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IV
Jayanagi 5th lunar month of 1763 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IV
Kamahige 1st lunar month of 1769 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IV

The number 18 is symbolic, many of these plays are seldom performed and some fell into oblivion. The most famous and performed ones are "Kanjinch˘" (performed several times a year), "Narukami" (at least once a year), "Shibaraku", "Ya-no-Ne" and "Sukeroku" (these 3 plays are usually performed to celebrate great events like shűmei). The plays "Kenuki" and "Uir˘ Uri" are also frequently performed. The 11 remaining plays may be revived by the National Theatre ("Z˘hiki", "Kan U", "Gedatsu", "Kagekiyo", "Nanatsu Men") or the troupe led by Ichikawa Ennosuke III ("Kamahige").

In Japanese: 歌舞伎十八番

Kabuki Sandai Meisaku Ky˘gen

Literally the three most important Kabuki masterpieces: "Kanadehon Chűshingura", "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura" and "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami".

In Japanese: 歌舞伎三大名作狂言


An arrow with a whistle attached; a whistling arrow used to signal the start of battle.

In Japanese: 鏑矢

Kada no Ura

A famous, picturesque and scenic bay with hot springs in the city of Wakayama in the Wakayama Prefecture [print].

In Japanese: 加太の浦

Kado Reisha

Literally a new year visitor (reisha) at the gate (kado).

In Japanese: 門礼者


A fire lit at a gate for funerals, weddings and Obon.

In Japanese: 門火


The traditional New Year pine-and-bamboo decorations.

In Japanese: 門松


An entertainer during the Edo period going from house to house to perform his/her songs or/and dances.

In Japanese: 角付け


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 28th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1848 (the 1st of April 1848 in the western calendar) and ended the 27th day of the 11th lunar month of its 7th year (the 15th of January 1855 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kaei were K˘ka and Ansei.

In Japanese: 嘉永


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the southern part of the Ishikawa Prefecture today [more details].

In Japanese: 加賀


Literally "Opening the Mirror". This is a Japanese traditional ceremony to open a kagami mochi or a cask of sake [more details].

In Japanese: 鏡開き

Kagami Mochi

A traditional Japanese New Year decoration. It usually consists of two round mochi (rice cakes), the smaller placed atop the larger, and a Japanese bitter orange with an attached leaf on top [more details].

In Japanese: 鏡餅


Dramas dealing with a famous suicide/revenge story involving three palace ladies-in-waiting: one lady, who was humiliated by the terrible z˘riuchi done by a senior lady-in-waiting, committed suicide. Her death was avenged by her faithful servant, who killed the senior lady-in-waiting. The first kagamiyamamono in Kabuki history was the play "Kagamiyama Koky˘ no Nishikie".

In Japanese: 加賀見山物


Guild name (yag˘) for Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Kaishun and Nakamura Matsue [more details].

In Japanese: 加賀屋


A hidden seppuku: the hero, who has already committed seppuku, hides his belly cut with the outer garnment of his costum.

In Japanese: 陰腹


Play whose main characters are the defeated warrior Taira no Kagekiyo (called Akushichiby˘e Kagekiyo), his lover Akoya, Hatakeyama Shigetada and Mionoya Shir˘ Kunitoshi. Two good examples of kagekiyomono are "Kagekiyo" and "Akoya".

In Japanese: 景清物


The Kage School (kage meaning shadow in Japanese). A traditional school of swordsmanship (kenjutsu) founded by Aisu Hisatada [more details].

In Japanese: 陰流


A palanquin.

In Japanese: 駕籠


A palanquin bearer.

In Japanese: 駕籠舁


Kagoshima Castle, also known as Tsurumaru Castle, was a castle located in the city of Kagoshima in nowadays Kagoshima Prefecture. It was built in 1602 by Matsudaira Iehisa and it was demolished in 1871 [more details].

In Japanese: 鹿児島城


==> kagokaki

In Japanese: 駕屋


Literally "God Entertainment". Kagura is a specific type of Shint˘ theatrical dance [more details].

In Japanese: 神楽


Literally the Kagura Slope. The name of a famous slope and a neighbourhood in Edo/T˘ky˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 神楽坂


Heirloom; a family treasure.

In Japanese: 家宝


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current prefecture of Yamanashi. It was also called K˘shű.

In Japanese: 甲斐


Literally the "hay money". The tip paid by an actor, who has to ride a Kabuki horse (uma) on stage, to the two assistants doing the horse.

In Japanese: かいば料


Unveiling a treasured hidden Buddhist image or sculpture.

In Japanese: 開帳


A Kabuki dance or drama staged to celebrate a kaich˘. The first famous one was "Keisei Asama-ga-Dake", which was staged in Ky˘to in 1698 to celebrate the unveiling of a statue of Asama no ďkami in Higashiyama in Ky˘to.

In Japanese: 開帳物


A ghost play.

In Japanese: 怪談物


A street-performing puppeteer during the Edo period.

In Japanese: 傀儡師


A pirate.

In Japanese: 海賊

Kajikawa Yoriteru

Kajikawa Yoriteru (1647~1723) was a hatamoto at the service of the Bakufu. He prevented the daimy˘ Asano Naganori from killing Kira Yoshihisa in the Great Pine Hallway of the Edo Castle the 14th day of the 3rd lunar month of 1701 (Ak˘ Incident). His tsűsh˘ was Yosobŕ.

In Japanese: 梶川頼照

Kajikawa Yosobŕ

==> Kajikawa Yoriteru

In Japanese: 梶川与惣兵衛

Kajikawa Yosobŕ Yoriteru

==> Kajikawa Yoriteru

In Japanese: 梶川与惣兵衛頼照

Kajiwara Genta Kagesue

==> Kajiwara Kagesue

In Japanese: 梶原源太景季

Kajiwara Heiji Kagetaka

==> Kajiwara Kagetaka

In Japanese: 梶原平次景高

Kajiwara Heiz˘ Kagetoki

==> Kajiwara Kagetoki

In Japanese: 梶原平三景時

Kajiwara Kagesue

Kajiwara Kagesue (1162~1200) was the first son of Kajiwara Kagetoki and a bush˘ of the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura era. His tsűsh˘ was Genta [more details].

In Japanese: 梶原景季

Kajiwara Kagetaka

Kajiwara Kagetaka (1165~1200) was the second son of Kajiwara Kagetoki and a bush˘ of the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura era. His tsűsh˘ was Heiji.

In Japanese: 梶原景高

Kajiwara Kagetoki

Kajiwara Kagetoki (1140(?)~1200) was a bush˘ of the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura era. His tsűsh˘ was Heiz˘ (or Heiza) [more details].

In Japanese: 梶原景時

Kaka Jűkyoku

The 10 "melodies" of Kaka. Kaka was the haimy˘ of Ichikawa Ennosuke III. A collection of ten dance-dramas created in 2010 by Ichikawa Ennosuke III and a subdivision of the collection Ennosuke Shijűhassen:

In Japanese: 華果十曲


Prostitute; whore; streetwalker.

In Japanese: 抱子 | 抱妓


The Kakegawa Station. The 26th station (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. Kakegawa was also a castle town. 227 km from Edo and 264.2 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 掛川宿


Words of praise shouted by connoisseurs from the audience, at key moments in a dance or a drama, like a mie, a stage entrance or a pose on the shichisan. Usually these words are either the actor yag˘ or his generation number. These days, only positive shouting is done but in the good old days, it was also possible to insult bad actors, using the infamous word daikon.

In Japanese: 掛け声


Two lovers elopement.

In Japanese: 駈落ち

Kakikae Ky˘gen

A rewritten Kabuki drama. During the Edo period, a kakikae ky˘gen was a newly-created drama based on an existing famous older drama. Here are some examples: "Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu" (based on "Godairiki Koi no Fűjime"), "Kurotegumi Kuruwa no Tatehiki" (based on "Sukeroku") or "Gonichi no Iwafuji" (based on "Kagamiyama"). The newly-created drama could be more realistic or more spectacular than the original ones. It could also be a kind of parody of the old one. The male hero in the old drama could also become a female heroin, like in "Onna Shibaraku" (based on "Shibaraku") or in "Onna Narukami" (based on "Narukami").

In Japanese: 書替狂言

Kakinoki Kinsuke

At the beginning, he was a farmer, born and living in the village of Kakinoki in the province of Owari. He was . He became a famous t˘zoku and, after a long career of evil, he was finally caught and executed by crucifixion at the execution ground of Kawarakeno in Nagoya the 21st day of the 8th lunar month of the 13th year of the H˘reki (the 28th of September 1763 in the western calendar). The legend said that he used in 1712 a giant kite to carry himself to the top of the main tower of Nagoya Castle. There, under the cover of the night, Kinsuke stole a few scales from the pair of golden shachihoko (kinshachi). In reality, he entered the earthen storehouse (doz˘) of the castle and escaped using a boat but he never used a giant kite. The legend was turned into a Kabuki play in 1783, which was entitled "Keisei Kogane no Shachihoko".

In Japanese: 柿木金助


A special collection of roles gathered by the star Ichimura Uzaemon XV:

In Japanese: 可江集


Kabubŕ were traveling street dance performer from the Echigo province. They wore a long red wig representing a lion's mane and held a small hand drum at the belt. Kabubŕ was the name of such a performer in the city of Kanbara. Kabubŕ is the character of the famous dance "Echigo Jishi" (commonly called "Kabubŕ Jishi").

In Japanese: 角兵衛


A hiding place. Another possible reading is kakureya.

In Japanese: 隠家


A kettle; an iron pot; an iron vat.

In Japanese:


A sickle.

In Japanese:


A suicide by self-disembowelment with a sickle.

In Japanese: 鎌腹


An area south of Ky˘to, at the confluence of the Kamo River and the Takase River, near Jűj˘. In this area, the Kamo waters are at their deepest level.

In Japanese: 釜ヶ淵


Boiling to death (punishment during the Sengoku period). The most famous example in Kabuki was the execution of the larger-than-life king of thieves Ishikawa Goemon by kamairi at the end of the drama "Kama-ga-Fuchi Futatsu Domoe".

In Japanese: 釜煎


A famous district in Edo in Kanda. The name gashi means river bank and Kamakura came from the adjacent district, Kamakura-ch˘, not directly from the 12th century capital of the Shogunate. Kamakuragashi was a famous river front market during the Edo period, one of the 73 river front markets in Edo, which was specialized in lumber. The Toshimaya, a shirozake brewery at Kanda Kamakuragashi, was also extremely popular.

In Japanese: 鎌倉河岸

Kamakura Gongor˘ Kagemasa

Kamakura Gongor˘ Kagemasa was a warrior of the late Heian period. He fought on the Genji side during the Gosannen war [more details].

In Japanese: 鎌倉権五郎景政

Kamakura Jidai

The Kamakura era. A period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first Sh˘gun Minamoto no Yoritomo. It ended in 1333 with the destruction of the Shogunate [more details].

In Japanese: 鎌倉時代


A tortoise.

In Japanese:

Kamei Rokur˘

==> Kamei Shigekiyo

In Japanese: 亀井六郎 | 龜井六郎

Kamei Rokur˘ Shigekiyo

==> Kamei Shigekiyo

In Japanese: 亀井六郎重清 | 龜井六郎重清

Kamei Shigekiyo

Kamei Shigekiyo (???? ~ 1189) was a bush˘ of the end of the Heian period to the Kamakura period. He was a r˘t˘ of Minamoto no Yoshitsune. His tsűsh˘ was Rokur˘ and he was also called Kamei Rokur˘. He died the 15th of June 1189.

In Japanese: 亀井重清 | 龜井重清

Kameido Tenjin

A famous Shint˘ shrine in Edo/T˘ky˘, which was built at the beginning of the 1660s to enshrine Tenjin, the God of Education [more details].

In Japanese: 亀戸天神社


Kameyama-juku or Kameyama-shuku. The 46th (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. Kameyama was also a castle town. 412.7 km from Edo and 78.5 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 亀山宿


During the feodal times, kami was an important title given to a nobleman in charge of a specific province. It can roughly be translated as governor.

In Japanese:


A Shint˘ deity.

In Japanese:


The wild tossing of the long hair of a shishi wig in the climax of a Lion Dance (like "Aioi Jishi", "Kagami Jishi" or "Renjishi"). The litteral meaning of kamiarai is "hair-washing".

In Japanese: 髪洗い

Kamigata Kabuki

The Kabuki of Kamigata (old expression used for the ďsaka-Ky˘to-K˘be-Nara region) The Kamigata Kabuki main feature is the wagoto style. Nowadays, there are only a few Kamigata actors, led by the star Sakata T˘jűr˘ and his two sons, Ganjir˘ and Nakamura Senjaku. The others famous Kamigata actors are Kataoka Hidetar˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘ and Kamimura Kichiya, who are still living in the city of ďsaka. Some actors like Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Gat˘ or Nakamura Tomijűr˘, born and educated in T˘ky˘, living in T˘ky˘, are also related to Kamigata Kabuki because of their lineage.

In Japanese: 上方歌舞伎

Kamigata Ky˘gen

A Kabuki drama performed in the Kamigata style by Kamigata actors.

In Japanese: 上方狂言


Buy˘ dances created in Kamigata. The most famous school of Kamigata-mai is the Yamamura School, which was created by Yamamura Tomogor˘, the choreographer of the star Nakamura Nakamura Utaemon III, during the Bunka era.

In Japanese: 上方舞

Kamiizumi Nobutsuna

Kamiizumi Nobutsuna (1508 ~ 1572/1577) was the founder of the Shinkage School (kenjutsu) [more details].

In Japanese: 上泉信綱


A paper kimono. "Originally, kamiko meant a shabby kimono made by pasting scraps of washi (Japanese paper) together, but as a Kabuki costume, the kamiko is stylized using black silk crepe on which parts of love letters, etc., are embroidered with gold and silver thread [more details].

In Japanese: 紙子 / 紙衣


A ragman; a ragpicker; a peddler buying unwanted items from people. Synonymous: kamikuzuya.

In Japanese: 紙屑買い | 紙屑買


A person collecting used-paper (not only paper but any kind of unwanted household items) during the Edo period. A rag-and-bone peddler. Synonymous: kamikuzu-kai.

In Japanese: 紙屑屋


An old neighboorhood in Edo in the district of Nihonbashi. The name disappeared in 1928. Nowadays, it is Yaesu 1-ch˘me and Nihonbashi 3-ch˘me in Chű˘ Ward.

In Japanese: 上槇町



In Japanese:


The Kaminari Gate (literally the Thunder Gate) in front of the long alley leading to the Sens˘ji temple (commonly called Asakusa Kannon) in the district of Asakusa in Edo/T˘ky˘. This gate is famous for its giant paper lantern decorated with the ideogram for kaminari.

In Japanese: 雷門


Gentle love scene in which the actor woman, played by an onnagata, combs the hair of her lover while expressing all her love for him.

In Japanese: 髪梳


Stage left. The right of the stage from the audience viewpoint. [=> shimote].

In Japanese: 上手

Kamite Agemaku

Agemaku to allow entrance from the kamite.

In Japanese: 上手揚幕

Kamitsumiya ďji

==> Sh˘toku Taishi

In Japanese: 上宮皇子


During the Edo period, daimy˘ were compelled to spend alternate years away from their provinces in Edo near the Sh˘gun. A daimy˘'s main residence in central Edo was called kamiyashiki.

In Japanese: 上屋敷


An old Edo period word for hairdresser. It literally means "hair-tying".

In Japanese: 髪結


A family mon.

In Japanese: 家紋


Young girl attendant for a high-ranking courtesan (keisei).

In Japanese: 禿

Kan Pei

The name in Japanese of Guan Ping. Guan Ping was a military general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He was the eldest son of Guan Yu [more details].

In Japanese: 関平

Kan Sh˘j˘

==> Sugawara Michizane

In Japanese: 菅丞相 | 菅亟相

Kan U

Kan U is the Chinese Warlord Guan Yu in Japanese. Guan Yu was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han, which was founded by Liu Bei in the Three Kingdoms period [more details].

In Japanese: 関羽

Kan U no Mie

Literally Kan U's mie. An old and famous mie with Kan U stroking his beard while posing. The same mie was also used with the priest Shunkan in the eponymous drama "Shunkan".

In Japanese: 関羽の見得


Kanagawa-juku or Kanagawa-shuku. The 3rd (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 28 km from Edo and 463.2 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 神奈川宿


Kanaya-juku or Kanaya-shuku. The 24th (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 213 km from Edo and 278.2 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 金谷宿


Literally the top management (of a company). In Kabuki, this is the close circle of top actors. The majority of kanbu actors, the lucky ones, are in this circle since their hatsubutai thanks to their birth within the Kabuki world. A minority is made up of actors, who were born outside but were so talented and hard-working that they deserved to join the first league.

In Japanese: 幹部

Kanbu Sh˘shin

The promotion to kanbu for a nadai actor.

In Japanese: 幹部昇進


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 25th day of the 4th lunar month of 1661 (the 23rd of May 1661 in the western calendar) and ended the 21st day of the 9th lunar month of 1673 (the 30th of October 1673 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kanbun were Manji and Enp˘.

In Japanese: 寛文


Kanda, together with Nihonbashi and Ky˘bashi, was the core of Edo shitamachi during the Edo period. It is home to the Kanda My˘jin Shrine. It used to be a T˘ky˘ ward up to 1947. When the 35 wards of T˘ky˘ were reorganized into 23, it was merged with K˘jimachi to form Chiyoda Ward [more details].

In Japanese: 神田

Kanda Gekij˘

A T˘ky˘ koshibai theater which was built in 1891 in the district of Kanda Misaki-ch˘. Its first name was Misakiza. It became the Kanda Gekij˘ in 1915. During its Misakiza era, this theater became famous for hosting female Kabuki (onna shibai) performances with a female troupe led by Ichikawa Kumehachi I. Others female Kabuki actors were Ichikawa Rish˘, Matsumoto Kinshi, Nakamura Kasen, Nakamura Nakaji or Nakamura Nakayoshi. Male actors who frequently performed either at the Misakiza or the Kanda Gekij˘ were Arashi Rinsh˘, Band˘ Tar˘, Ichikawa Kigan V, Ichikawa Shinnosuke V, Matsumoto Kojir˘ III, Nakamura Fukuen, Onoe Baish˘, Onoe Kikuemon, Onoe K˘z˘ II, ďtani Bajű V, Sawamura Ch˘jűr˘ VII, Sawamura Gennosuke IV and Sawamura S˘gor˘ II.

In Japanese: 神田劇場

Kanda Matsuri

One of the most important matsuri in the city of T˘ky˘ (it is one of the "Three Great Festivals of Edo"). The present day festival was established in the Edo period and is still held every year in the middle of May around the Kanda My˘jin Shrine in Soto-Kanda in the district of Chiyoda [more details].

In Japanese: 神田祭

Kanda My˘jin

One of the most famous Shint˘ shrines in T˘ky˘. It is located in Soto-Kanda in the district of Chiyoda [more details].

In Japanese: 神田明神

Kanda Suda-ch˘

An Edo period district in Kanda. Nowadays, it is still a district in Chiyoda Ward [pictures and more details in Japanese].

In Japanese: 神田須田町


The Kanda River. A 24,6 km river flowing in T˘ky˘ from Inokashira Park to the Sumida River [more details].

In Japanese: 神田川


Disinheritance; disownment.

In Japanese: 勘当


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 30th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1624 (the 17th of April 1624 in the western calendar) and ended the 16th day of the 12th lunar month of the 21st year of the Kan'ei era (the 13th of January 1645 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kan'ei were Genna and Sh˘h˘.

In Japanese: 寛永


A famous temple located in Ueno in T˘ky˘. It was founded in 1625 during the Kan'ei era. This important temple for the Tokugawa Shogunate was built to guard Edo Castle against the northeast, a direction believed to be unlucky by traditional geomancy [more details].

In Japanese: 寛永寺


A bell-entering scene in Kabuki.

In Japanese: 鐘入り


A money-lender.

In Japanese: 金貸し


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 12th day of the 7th lunar month of 1748 (the 5th of August 1748 in the western calendar) and ended the 27th day of the 10th lunar month of 1751 (the 14th of December 1751 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kan'en were Enky˘ and H˘reki.

In Japanese: 寛延

Kaneru Yakusha

Talented actor able to perform any kind of roles (onnagata, tachiyaku, katakiyaku). The first kaneru yakusha in Kabuki history were Nakamura Utaemon III and Onoe Kikugor˘ III.

In Japanese: 兼ねる役者

Kanesaka Kan'ichi

==> Yamamoto Hisashi

In Japanese: 金坂貫一


==> sh˘r˘

In Japanese: 鐘突堂


A source of revenue; a financial supporter; a golden goose.

In Japanese: 金蔓


A crab.

In Japanese:


A spy; an undercover agent; a secret agent.

In Japanese: 間者


Title awarded on a honorary basis to the best actor in each section of a hy˘banki.

In Japanese: 巻軸


A government official (from low to medium rank); a public servant.

In Japanese: 官人


A subscription list.

In Japanese: 勧進帳


An office for raising funds (to build a temple or a shrine).

In Japanese: 勧進所


A court lady.

In Japanese: 官女


==> Sugawara Michizane

In Japanese: 菅家


A secluded life; by extension the cottage where a secluded person lives.

In Japanese: 閑居


==> kanjin

In Japanese: 官人


The Goddess of Mercy.

In Japanese: 観音


A Shint˘ priest.

In Japanese: 神主


A casket; a coffin.

In Japanese: 棺桶

Kanoko Mochi

A rice cake with sweet boiled beans inside.

In Japanese: 鹿の子餅


A high-ranking court title, which was held by the chief advisor for an adult emperor. A possible translation is regent. The kanpaku was considered as the highest bureaucrat in the imperial court. It was created by Fujiwara no Mototsune for himself in 887, when the Fujiwara clan effectively ruled over Japan, treating the emperor as a mere powerless puppet. The position was traditionally occupied by somebody from the Fujiwara clan up to the 16th century , when two non-Fujiwara held it, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his son in law Toyotomi Hidetsugu.

In Japanese: 関白


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 27th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1741 (the 12th of April 1741 in the western calendar) and ended the 21st day of the 2nd lunar month of 1744 (the 3rd of April 1744 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kanp˘ were Genbun and Enky˘.

In Japanese: 寛保


Kanrei, Sh˘gun's deputy, was a high political post in Japan [more details].

In Japanese: 管領


A region in Japan, which includes the prefectures of Nara, Wakayama, Mie, Ky˘to, ďsaka, Hy˘go and Shiga.

In Japanese: 関西


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 25th day of the 1st lunar month of 1789 (the 19th of February 1789 in the western calendar) and ended the 5th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1801 (the 19th of March 1801 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kansei were Tenmei and Ky˘wa.

In Japanese: 寛政


A unique Kabuki-dedicated, roundish, bold calligraphy used for example to make the maneki kanban.

In Japanese: 勘亭流



In Japanese: 姦通


Kabuki dramas whose main theme is adultery (kantsű in Japanese). In the Tokugawa legal code, adultery was a serious crime, which was punishable by death. The dramas "Nami no Tsuzumi", "Osan Mohei" and "Yari no Gonza" are good examples of kantsűmono.

In Japanese: 姦通物


warmed sake.

In Japanese: 燗酒


A shop or a man selling kanzake.

In Japanese: 燗酒屋

Kanzaki Noriyasu

Kanzaki Noriyasu (1666~1703) was one of the 47 r˘nin (shijűshichishi) of Ak˘ (Ak˘ R˘shi). His tsűsh˘ was Yogor˘. He was portrayed as Senzaki Yagor˘ in "Kanadehon Chűshingura". Like the others, he committed seppuku the 4th of the 2nd lunar month of the 16th year of the Genroku era (the 20th of March 1703 in the western calendar).

In Japanese: 神崎与五郎則休

Kanzaki Yogor˘ Noriyasu

==> Kanzaki Noriyasu


Kanzan is the Tang dynasty Chinese Buddhist poet and Taoist figure Hanshan in Japanese [more details].

In Japanese: 拾得

Kanze Motokiyo

==> Zeami Motokiyo

In Japanese: 観世元清

Kanzen Ch˘aku

The Confucian principle of "encouraging good and chastising evil".

In Japanese: 勧善徴悪


During the Edo period, a kaomise was the "face-showing" ceremony of a theater, which celebrated the opening of the new theatrical year and its new troupe. It was generally held in the 11th lunar month of the year and was a very important event in Edo, ďsaka or Ky˘to. Nowadays, there are still 3 symbolic kaomise in Japan: in Nagoya in October, at the Kabukiza in November and at the Minamiza in December.

In Japanese: 顔見世

Kaomise Banzuke

In the Edo period, they were published to announce a theatre's newly engaged company, shortly before the annual eleventh-month production called the kaomise, which highlighted these actors, playwrights and musicians. In Edo, large, single sheet prints were used for the kaomise banzuke in the late Genroku period (1688~1704). The upper half of the print presents the mon of the management (yagura mon) in the center, and the engaged names of actors in the two column format on either side of it. The lower half depicts the acting company and the actors' faces or figures, drawn by Torii school artists. The actors' respective ranks are indicated by their position and size. ďsaka used large, single sheet banzuke, and Ky˘to used a long, horizontal sheet called the kiwamari banzuke or kompon kiwamari. Neither of these usually had pictures (from the Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center).

In Japanese: 顔見世番付

Kaomise Buy˘

A spectacular dance-drama staged within or at the end of a kaomise program. The best examples are "Kumo no Hy˘shimai", "Kumo no Ito", "Seki no To" and "Utsubo Zaru".

In Japanese: 顔見世舞踊


Literally the master of faces. A makeup artist ==> kewaishi.

In Japanese: 顔師


Legendary flesh-eating creature inhabiting ponds or rivers, hybrid of a human and a tortoise. The word kappa also means a traditional straw raincoat worn by farmers.

In Japanese: 河童

Kappore Odori

The kappore odori was a form of popular dance performed by the so-called gannin b˘zu. It was a corrupted form of the gannin b˘zuĺs earlier Sumiyoshi Odori dance, and was a part of the gannin b˘zu repertory along with other popular dances such as fukagawa bushi and h˘nen odori. The kappore odori became very popular from the end of the Edo period through the early Meiji years.

In Japanese: かっぽれ踊

Karakasa Koz˘

==> kasa ippon ashi

In Japanese: 唐傘小僧


A Chinese child/boy; a famous design of Hirado ware of pottery [more details].

In Japanese: 唐子


Karakuri means a mechanical device (a doll or a puppet for example) to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise. During the Edo period, a karakuriya was a shop (or the owner of a shop) displaying karakuri devices to his customers. A famous example was the tea-cup karakuri doll: putting a tea cup on the tray held by the doll made the doll move and it stopped when the tea cup was removed.

In Japanese: からくり屋


A crow.

In Japanese:

Karasu Tengu

A karasu tengu. A crow-billed goblin in Japanese legends.

In Japanese: 烏天狗


A hunting field.

In Japanese: 狩場


The Karigane-ryű is a school of Buy˘, which was founded by Nakamura Ganjir˘ III in December 1992. He was the first iemoto and his name as a Buy˘ master was Karigane Kasen I. He gave in June 2018 the title of iemoto to his son Nakamura Senjaku III, who became Karigane Kasen II [more details].

In Japanese: 雁音流


It literally means "hunting garment". A silk garment of the Heian period. Originally, it was used by noblemen to go hunting. As it enabled the person to move freely, it became the daily casual piece of clothes for noblemen. Nowadays, it is still used by Shint˘ priests.

In Japanese: 狩衣


A subsidiary hanamichi, which is occasionally built on the audience's right for specific dramas requiring the use of 2 hanamichi (the best example is "Yoshinogawa").

In Japanese: 仮花道


The senior retainer of a daimy˘.

In Japanese: 家老

Kar˘ Ny˘b˘

The spouse of a senior retainer.

In Japanese: 家老女房


A famous sekky˘-bushi tale, which became later a dance-drama, a j˘jűri, a Kabuki drama ("Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto") or a novel (written by Takizawa Bakin in 1806):

"It was popularly believed in olden times that jealous women appeared with hair like snakes [..] Another well-known personage Kat˘ Saemon Shigeuji, daimy˘ in Kyűshű (Tsukushi), who was also a much-married man, fled from his house one day because the hair of his wife and mistresses took the shape of writhing serpents. He took refuge in the mountains, where he lived an hermit's life under the new name Karukaya D˘shin. There is a story relating how he met wandering in K˘yasan a young man named Ishid˘maru; struck with the adolescent's face, he asked him various questions, and found that Ishid˘ was looking for his father. Karukaya then became aware of the fact that the boy was his own son, but worldly matters were for ever forgotten by the hermit, and telling the boy to return home he passed on his way." (Henri L. Joly in "Legend in Japanese art; a description of historical episodes, legendary characters, folklore myths, religious symbolism")

In Japanese: 苅萱

Karukaya D˘shin

==> Kat˘ Saemon Shigeuji

In Japanese: 苅萱道心

Karukaya D˘shin Monogatari

A j˘jűri based on the famous sekky˘-bushi entitled "Karukaya".

In Japanese: 苅萱道心物語


An acrobat; a tumbler.

In Japanese: 軽業師

Kasa Ippon Ashi

A traditional y˘kai which is a living 1-legged old oiled-paper umbrella. Also called karakasa koz˘ or kasa obake [more details].

In Japanese: 傘一本足

Kasa Obake

==> kasa ippon ashi

In Japanese: 傘おばけ


The Kasama Domain. An important domain of the Edo period in the province of Hitachi. The capital of this domain was the city of Kasama centered around Kasama Castle. It belonged to the Matsui-Matsudaira, Ogasawara, Toda-Matsudaira, Nagai, Asano, Inoue and Makino clans [more details].

In Japanese: 笠間藩


The Castle of Kasama. The castle of the Kasama Domain, located in the castle town of Kasama in the province of Hitachi, nowadays the city of Kasama in the prefecture of Ibaraki [more details].

In Japanese: 笠間城


Play whose main characters are the cursed and disfigured woman Kasane and her husband Yoemon, both from the Hanyű village. Yoemon kills Kasane with a sickle on the Kinugawa river bank, turning her into a vengeful ghost [more details].

In Japanese: 累物


Term synonymous with fukeoyama, which fell into disuse.

In Japanese: 花車方 (花車形)


Sweets; confection; cake; confectionery.

In Japanese: 菓子


A book rental shop or the owner of a book rental shop.

In Japanese: 貸本屋


A rental shop, especially for bedding items, during the Edo period.

In Japanese: 貨物屋


A retainer; a vassal.

In Japanese: 家臣


A store (or a business) making and selling sweets. The owner of such a store/business.

In Japanese: 菓子屋


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the Eastern part of the current ďsaka Prefecture [more details]. It was also called Kawachi.

In Japanese: 河州


A crematory; a crematorium.

In Japanese: 火葬場

Kasuga Taisha

The Kasuga Shrine in the city of Nara. It was the Shint˘ shrine of the Fujiwara clan and it was established in 768 [more details].

In Japanese: 春日大社


A set of stylized forms designed for one specific role and transmitted from generation to generation.

In Japanese:

Katada Kaid˘

An old highway in the province of ďmi built along the western side of Lake Biwa.

In Japanese: 堅田街道

Katagiri Katsumoto

Katagiri Katsumoto (1556~1615) was a daimy˘ of the Azuchi-Momoyama period through early Edo period. He faithfully served the Toyotomi clan. After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Katagiri Katsumoto tried to negotiate a compromise between the ruthless Tokugawa Ieyasu and Yodogimi, mother of young Toyotomi Hideyori. He was finally banished from ďsaka Castle [more details].

In Japanese: 片桐且元


In Japan feudal times, the samurai class upheld the honour of their family, clan, or lord through the practice of revenge killings (katakiuchi). These vendettas could also involve the relatives of an offender. It was a custom to ask local authorities for the permission to track down and take revenge upon the murderers. Synonym: adauchi.

In Japanese: 敵討


Katakiuchimono is a subgenre of Kabuki or puppet drama featuring a samurai revenge-killing vendetta (katakiuchi). The best examples are the sogamono based on the Soga Brothers vendetta. Synonim: adauchimono.

In Japanese: 敵討物


Actor specialized in villain roles; a villain role.

In Japanese: 敵役


A Japanese sword.

In Japanese:


A swordsmith.

In Japanese: 刀鍛冶


A sword shop. A person working in a sword shop.

In Japanese: 刀屋

Kataoka Gengoemon

==> Kataoka Takafusa

In Japanese: 片岡源五右衛門

Kataoka Gengoemon Takafusa

==> Kataoka Takafusa

In Japanese: 片岡源五右衛門高房

Kataoka Jűnishű

A special collection of roles gathered by the star Kataoka Nizaemon XI and transmitted to his heirs [more details].

In Japanese: 片岡十二集

Kataoka Takafusa

Kataoka Takafusa (1667~1703) was a bushi at the service of Lord Asano Naganori in Ak˘. He was one of the 47 r˘nin of Ak˘ (Ak˘ R˘shi). Like the others, he committed seppuku the 4th of the 2nd lunar month of the 16th year of the Genroku era (the 20th of March 1703 in the western calendar). His tsűsh˘ was Gengoemon.

In Japanese: 片岡高房

Kat˘ Kiyomasa

Kat˘ Kiyomasa, also called Toranosuke, was a Japanese daimy˘ of the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo period. He was born the 25th of July 1562 in Nakamura in the Owari province. A relative of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Kat˘ Kiyomasa entered his service upon reaching manhood and soon distinguished himself in battle. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea in 1592, Kat˘ Kiyomasa spearheaded the campaign and fought so ferociously that the Koreans nicknamed him "Devil Kiyomasa". Upon Hideyoshiĺs death in 1598, Kat˘ Kiyomasa returned to Japan and aided Tokugawa Ieyasu, who as chief regent to Hideyoshiĺs young son Toyotomi Hideyori. For his services, he received the Castle of Kumamoto as his provincial residence. He also brutally suppressed Christianity in Kyűshű. In his later years, he tried to work as a mediator for the increasingly complicated relationship between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori. In 1611, en route by sea to Kumamoto, he fell ill, and died shortly after his arrival. It was rumored that he was poisoned by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He died the 2nd of August 1611 [more details]. He became, under the thinly disguised name of Sat˘ Masakiyo, the hero of many Kabuki dramas, the most famous one being "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘".

In Japanese: 加藤清正


Kabuki dramas whose main character is the ruthless warrior Kat˘ Kiyomasa. In the Edo period, Kat˘ Kiyomasa always appeared on stage under the thinly disguised name of Sat˘ Masakiyo (or similar names) because of the Shogunate censorship. The best example of these dramas focusing on Sat˘ Masakiyo was "Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘". The best examples in Shinkabuki are the 4 dramas, written for Nakamura Kichiemon I who loved protraying Kat˘ Kiyomasa, belonging to the Shűzan Jisshu collection: "Nij˘-j˘ no Kiyomasa", "Urusanj˘ no Kiyomasa", "Kumamotoj˘ no Kiyomasa" or "Kiyomasa Seichűroku".

In Japanese: 加藤清正物

Kat˘ Saemon Shigeuji

A legendary daimy˘ in the province of Tsukushi, who was the main hero of the tale entitled "Karukaya" (later in the Kabuki drama "Karukaya D˘shin Tsukushi no Iezuto"). He was also called Karukaya D˘shin when he became a Buddhist monk.

In Japanese: 加藤左衛門重氏 | 加藤左衛門繁氏

Katoku S˘zoku

Succession to family headship.

In Japanese: 家督相続

Katsu Awa

==> Katsu Kaishű

In Japanese: 勝安房

Katsu Kaishű

Katsu Kaishű was the famous nickname of Katsu Yasuyoshi (1823 ~ 1899), son of Katsu Kokichi and a Japanese statesman and naval engineer during the late Tokugawa shogunate and early Meiji era. He went through a series of given names throughout his life; his childhood name was Katsu Rintar˘. Then he was called Katsu Yoshikuni. He was often called Katsu Awa during the late Tokugawa shogunate and later changed his name to Katsu Yasuyoshi after the Meiji Restoration. Katsu Kaishű eventually rose to occupy the position of naval commissioner in the Tokugawa navy. He is particularly known for his role in the surrender of Edo during the Meiji Restoration. He was one of the three Bakumatsu no Sanshű [more details].

In Japanese: 勝海舟

Katsu Kokichi

Katsu Kokichi (1802 ~ 1850) was a low-ranking samurai. Son of Otani Heiz˘, his childhood name was Otani Kamematsu. Then, he was called Otani Kokichi. He was adopted by his father-in-law Katsu Jinzabur˘ and became Katsu Kokichi. He was also called Katsu Saemon Tar˘. Katsu Kokichi led a life of idleness, never achieving an official post at the service of the Shogunate. He was the father of Katsu Kaishű [more details].

In Japanese: 勝小吉

Katsu Rintar˘

==> Katsu Kaishű

In Japanese: 勝麟太郎

Katsu Saemon Tar˘

==> Katsu Kokichi

In Japanese: 勝左衛門太郎

Katsu Yasuyoshi

==> Katsu Kaishű

In Japanese: 勝安芳

Katsu Yoshikuni

==> Katsu Kaishű

In Japanese: 勝義邦


A wig.

In Japanese:


The Katsura River. This river flows near Ky˘to. It starts at the Togetsuky˘ Bridge in Arashiyama as the continuation of two other rivers, the Hozu and the ďi rivers, and flows until it joins the Kamo and Uji rivers [more details].

In Japanese: 桂川


"Plays of Living History". New genre of jidaimono dramas, created by the star Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX during the Meiji era.

"These plays were enactments of historical incidents performed in every detail with all the accuracy that extensive research could reveal. Their popularity was moderate, and only Danjűr˘'s brilliant acting sustained them." (Faubion Bowers in "Japanese Theatre")

The word katsureki is a contraction of the words katsu (action) and rekishi (history).

In Japanese: 活歴

Katsuta Shinzaemon Taketaka

==> Katsuta Taketaka.

In Japanese: 勝田新左衛門武尭

Katsuta Taketaka

Katsuta Taketaka (1680~1703) was one of the shijűshichishi. His tsűsh˘ was Shinzaemon.

In Japanese: 勝田武尭

Katsuta Teruko

==> Gekk˘in

In Japanese: 勝田輝子


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the Eastern part of the current ďsaka Prefecture [more details]. It was also called Kashű.

In Japanese: 河内


Guild name (yag˘) for the Jitsukawa Enjaku line of actors [more details].

In Japanese: 河内屋

Kawagoe Shigeyori

Kawagoe Tar˘ Shigeyori was a bush˘ at the end of the Heian period. He was the father of Sato Gozen. He died in 1185.

In Japanese: 河越重頼

Kawagoe Tar˘ Shigeyori

==> Kawagoe Shigeyori

In Japanese: 河越太郎重頼

Kawamura Kary˘

Kawamura Kary˘, real name Kawamura Kyűsuke, was born in T˘ky˘ in Ushigome Ward the 21st of February 1884. He was a writer, a director and a screenwriter, working for the stage or for the movies. He was the author of the drama "J˘shű Miyage Hyakury˘ Kubi". He died the 1st of September 1954 [more details].

In Japanese: 川村花菱

Kawamura Kyűsuke

==> Kawamura Kary˘

In Japanese: 川村久輔

Kawamura Zuiken

Kawamura Zuiken (1617 or 1618 ~ 1699) was a 17th century figure who was famous for his engineering water works (chisui k˘ji).

In Japanese: 河村瑞賢

Kawanakajima no Tatakai

A series of battles which took place during the Sengoku Period from 1553 to 1564. These battles were fought between Takeda Shingen, lord of the Kai province, and Uesugi Kenshin, lord of Echigo province [more details].

In Japanese: 川中島の戦い


A dry riverbed.

In Japanese: 河原


A famous wooden bridge in the center of ďsaka originally built during the Genroku period over the Higashi Yokobori River. It has been frequently rebuilt during the Edo period and modern times. It became a metal and concrete bridge in 1932. The current structure was built in 1966.

In Japanese: 瓦屋橋


Pejorative term used for Kabuki actors and meaning beggars (literally "riverbed people").

In Japanese: 河原者

Kawari Ky˘gen

In Kabuki, a new drama which is staged during the performance period to replace the previous one. A substitute drama.

In Japanese: 替り狂言


Kawasaki-juku or Kawasaki-shuku. The 2nd (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 18 km from Edo and 473.2 km from Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 川崎宿


A traditional mosquito netting.

"Mosquito nets were hung over sleeping areas in aristocratic households since early times, though the practice was probably extremely limited overall. From the Muromachi period (1392~1482), however, the custom gradually trickled down to the common classes, so that by the Edo period, mosquito nets were in popular use. Edo period kaya were made of such materials as linen, silk, cotton, and even paper, with linen being the most prevalent. The fabric was a rough broadcloth weave of green linen threads, which was then pieced together into a rectangular "tent" of four walls, a ceiling, and no floor, bordered in red at the seams. The ceiling sheet would have loops at the four comers for suspension from nails in the structural posts. Kaya were fashioned according to the size of the room. Silk nets were luxury items, dyed light blue and having white borders along the seams. Cotton kaya were the poor person's article, generally afforded by farmers and hired business help. Paper kaya were glued together out of large sheets of Japanese paper (washi). They were commonly used by the poor, not only as mosquito netting, but as insulation to trap heat during the winter."
Koizumi Kazuko in "Traditional Japanese Furniture").

In Japanese: 蚊屋


A maker of metallic ornaments.

In Japanese: 錺屋


A store selling during the Edo period meat and skins of wild beasts such as wild boars, monkeys or deer; the owner of such a store.

In Japanese: 獣屋


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 15th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1648 (the 7th of April 1648 in the western calendar) and ended the 18th day of the 9th lunar month of 1652 (the 20th of October 1652 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Keian were Sh˘h˘ and J˘˘.

In Japanese: 慶安

Keian Jiken

The Keian Uprising (jiken means incident in Japanese). A failed coup d'etat attempt masterminded by Yui Sh˘setsu and Marubashi Chűya and carried out against the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan in 1651, the 4th year of the Keian era, by a number of r˘nin [more details].

In Japanese: 慶安事件


A stepmother.

In Japanese: 継母


In Japanese history, the Keich˘ era is an imperial era which started the 27th day of the 10th lunar month of 1596 (the 16th of December 1596 in the western calendar) and ended the 13th day of the 7th lunar month of 1615 (the 5th of September 1615 in the western calendar). The era after Keich˘ was Genna.

In Japanese: 慶長


An execution ground.

In Japanese: 刑場


In Japanese history, the Kei˘ period is an imperial era which started the 7th day of the 4th lunar month of 1865 (the 1st of May 1865 in the western calendar) and ended the 8th day of the 9th lunar month of 1868 (the 23rd of October 1868 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Kei˘ were Genji and Meiji.

In Japanese: 慶応


High-ranking courtesan. The word keisei means literally "castle-destroyer". For more details on Japanese courtesan and their history, check immortalgeisha.com or the Geisha of Japan.

In Japanese: 傾城 (契情)


A play with the pleasure quarters as background and a high-ranking courtesan (keisei) as main character.

In Japanese: 傾城事


Keiseikai or keiseigai, both reading are possible. Literally keisei-buying. A keiseikai is a Kamigata drama, whose main character is a young man who has fallen in love with a beautiful keisei and is desperately looking for the money to redeem her from her contract at her house of assignment in the pleasure quarter.

In Japanese: 傾城買い


A Kabuki dance with a pleasure quarter (kuruwa) as background and a high-ranking courtesan (keisei) as main character.

In Japanese: 傾城物


"The way of the Sword". Kend˘ is the martial art of Japanese traditional fencing.

In Japanese: 剣道


A fencing master.

In Japanese: 剣豪


The highest official court rank for m˘kan belonging to the T˘d˘za. They were allowed to wear special clothes with a hood and carry a special walking stick.

In Japanese: 検校



In Japanese: 剣術


A swordman, a fencer.

In Japanese: 剣術使い


A floral tribute.

In Japanese: 献花


A quarrel, a dispute with sword-fighting.

In Japanese: 喧嘩


A scene in a Kabuki drama with a kenka.

In Japanese: 喧嘩場


A fencer. A man who lived by the sword.

In Japanese: 剣客


Investigation; probe; inspector; examiner; investigator.

In Japanese: 検使


The Kenshun Gate. An important gate which is located at the south-east in the Ky˘to Imperial Palace [picture].

In Japanese: 建春門


The name in Japanese of Emperor Xian [more details].

In Japanese: 献帝


Sealed with blood.

In Japanese: 血判


A retainer.

In Japanese: 家来


Generic term used for stage tricks like chűnori, hayagawari, yatai kuzushi or honmizu.

"Rapid 'trick' appearances and disappearances of the actor are relatively few and are held in low esteem by the Kabuki connoisseur, who refers to them as keren (playing to the gallery)" (Earle Ernst in "The Kabuki Theatre", written in 1956, some years before the keren boom led by Ichikawa Ennosuke!).

In Japanese: ケレン (外連)


Parting; leave-taking; farewell.

In Japanese: 訣別


A duel.

In Japanese: 決闘


A makeup artist ==> kaoshi.

In Japanese: 化粧師


One of the seven entrances to the city of Kamakura. The Kewaizaka hill and pass was linking Kamakura to Fujisawa-juku. Militarily and economically important, this pass protected the Kamakura Shogunate. Its pleasure quarter (kuruwa) was also very famous.

In Japanese: 化粧坂


A feather-topped lance used by the footman (yakko) leading the travelling procession of his master.

In Japanese: 毛槍

Ki Aritsune

Ki no Aritsune (815 ~ 877) was a court noble of the Heian period.

In Japanese: 紀有常


Kigeki is the Japanese translation of Comedy. This word was coined in 1901.

In Japanese: 喜劇


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current Wakayama prefecture and the southern part of the Mie prefecture. It was also called Kishű.

In Japanese: 紀伊

Kiju Kinen

The traditional commemoration of one's seventy-seventh birthday.

In Japanese: 喜寿記念


An ogress; a female demon.

In Japanese: 鬼女


The Kikaku school. A school of haiku poetry founded by Takarai Kikaku.

In Japanese: 其角流


Literally the "Devil's Island". The name of this remote and desolated island appeared in the "Heike Monogatari" and it was used as a place of exile for Taira no Kiyomori's opponents who failed to get rid of him during the Shishigatani plot. Here is the description of this island in the book: "Boats rarely passed, and people were scared. Residents were dark colored and their words were incomprehensible. Men did not wear eboshi, and women did not wear their hair down. There were no farmers or grain, not even clothing. In the center of the island was a tall mountain, and it was constantly in flames. Due to the large amounts of sulfur, the island was also known as Sulfur Island". An important act of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's masterpiece "Heike Nyogo no Shima" was set on this island ("Shunkan"). The present location of this island is not clear. There are 3 possibilities: I˘jima Island (Kagoshima), I˘jima Island (Nagasaki) or Kikai Island (Kagoshima).

In Japanese: 鬼界島


A woodcutter; a lumberjack; a logger.

In Japanese: 木樵 | 木こり |  | 樵夫



In Japanese:


The duo made up of Onoe Kikugor˘ VI and Nakamura Kichiemon I, which made from 1908 the success of the Ichimuraza, under the management of Tamura Nariyoshi, who had the brilliant idea to stimulate an artificial rivalry between the 2 young actors in order to make them surpass themselves, just like the dangiku duo of the Meiji era (a duo which was made up of Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX and Onoe Kikugor˘ V). Onoe Kikugor˘ VI was the specialist of sewamono and Nakamura Kichiemon I was the specialist of jidaimono. The programs were mainly made up of gidayű ky˘gen or Kawatake Mokuami's masterpieces, helping for the preservation and transmission of many classics. This golden age lasted a little bit more than 10 years. A series of misfortunes hit the theater: the deaths of the onnagata Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ IV and Onoe Kikujir˘ III in 1919, the death of Tamura Nariyoshi in 1920 and ... Nakamura Kichiemon I leaving the Ichimuraza for the Sh˘chiku Company in 1921.

In Japanese: 菊吉

Kimura Shigenari

Kimura Shigenari (1593 ~ 1615) was a young warlord of the early Edo period. He was a faithful retainer of the Toyotomi clan and a leading commander at the Siege of ďsaka Castle. He died in battle [more details].

In Japanese: 木村重成

Kinezumi Kichigor˘

In k˘dan, one of the 5 members of the Kumokiri Gonin Otoko gang.

In Japanese: 木鼠吉五郎

Kinezumi Kishigor˘

In Kabuki, one of the 6 members of the Kumokiri Gonin Otoko gang.

In Japanese: 木鼠岸五郎


==> Nagoya-j˘

In Japanese: 金城


The famous Golden Pavilion in Ky˘to.

In Japanese: 金閣寺


A deity in Ryűkyű Islands.

In Japanese: 君真物


The River of Ki. It is a 136 km long river flowing in Nara and Wakayama Prefectures, from Mount ďdai-ga-Hara to Kii Channel. It is called Yoshino River in the city of Nara [more details].

In Japanese: 紀ノ川 | 紀の川


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Sawamura Tanosuke, Sawamura T˘jűr˘, Sawamura Tetsunosuke, Sawamura Yoshijir˘ and Sawamura S˘nosuke.

In Japanese: 紀伊国屋

Kinokuniya Bunzaemon

Kinokuniya Bunzaemon (1669~1734) was a rich merchant in Edo. His trading house was specialized in citrus, lumber, and salmon among other goods. He was one of the biggest and most respected daijin in Edo history. His nickname was Kibun, Ki for Kinokuniya and Bun for Bunzaemon [more details].

In Japanese: 紀伊國屋文左衛門

Kinoshita T˘kichir˘

The first name of the future Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He became, under the thinly disguised name of Konoshita T˘kichi, the hero of many Taik˘ki-related Kabuki dramas.

In Japanese: 木下藤吉郎


The Kinpusanji Temple is an old and famous temple in Yoshinoyama [more details].

In Japanese: 金峯山寺


A golden shachihoko. The two most famous kinshachi are the ones on top of the main tower of Nagoya Castle.

In Japanese: 金鯱


Sakata no Kintar˘ is a folk hero from Japanese folklore. A child of superhuman strength, he was raised by the yamanba on Mount Ashigara. He became the warrior Sakata Kintoki, one of the four retainers (shitenn˘) of Minamoto Yorimitsu [more details].

In Japanese: 金太郎


==> Ashigarayama

In Japanese: 金時山


==> Ashigarayama

In Japanese: 金時山


A castle built in 1062 by Miura Tamemichi in the province of Sagami, in nowadays Yokosuka. It was destroyed in 1247.

In Japanese: 衣笠城

Kira Yoshihisa

Kira Yoshihisa (1641~1703) was a master of ceremonies at the Edo Castle during the Tokugawa Shogunate. His court title was K˘zuke-no-Suke and his first name could also be read Yoshinaka. He was famous as the adversary of the daimy˘ Asano Naganori, who attempted to kill Kira at Edo Castle the 21st of April 1701 and was forced to commit seppuku by the Sh˘gun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi the same day. This was the beginning of the famous story of the Ak˘ R˘shi, the 47 masterless retainers who avenged the unfair death of their late master by killing Kira Yoshihisa the 31st of January 1703 [more details].

In Japanese: 吉良義央


It literally means "cut". This is the last scene of an act in the puppet theater (Bunraku). The word kiri was also used in Kabuki to nickname some famous scenes, like "Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata" in "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura", which is nicknamed "Shi no Kiri" (shi means 4 in Japanese so shi no kiri means the kiri scene of the 4th act).

In Japanese:


A paulownia; a foxglove tree.

In Japanese:

Kiri Ky˘gen

The kiri ky˘gen was originally a single-act afterpiece, which was performed at the end of the multi-act historical play (jidaimono). The expression was first used in Kamigata during the Genroku era and the single-act was a short sewamono drama, with characters and thema related to the sekai used in the jidaimono drama. Later, this drama became the nibanme (while the jidaimono was the ichibanme). The expression kiri ky˘gen was later used for a short dance ending a program. It is still used nowadays in the Kabuki world with the same meaning.

In Japanese: 切狂言

Kiriko T˘r˘

A traditional square-shaped festival paper lantern.

In Japanese: 切子燈籠


A cheap brothel.

In Japanese: 切見世

Kirino Toshiaki

Kirino Toshiaki (1838 ~ 1877) was a samurai of the late Edo period and a general of the Imperial Army of the early Meiji era. He was also known as Nakamura Hanjir˘ and he was one of the Four Hitokiri of the Bakumatsu [more details].

In Japanese: 桐野利秋


A puppet or Kabuki drama including themes related to christianity (forbidden in Japan from 1639 up to the end of the Edo period) or the Shimabara Rebellion.

In Japanese: 切支丹物

Kisen H˘shi

Kisen H˘shi or Kisen was an early Heian period buddhist monk and poet. He was one of the six Rokkasen [more details].

In Japanese: 喜撰法師


A long-stemmed traditional Japanese pipe. One of the most important stage props in Kabuki.

In Japanese: 煙管


A kish˘mon was a sworn oath in Japan, written on a paper document, in which people pledge to Buddha or gods that they would not break a contract or a vow. It could be a way to swear an allegiance to a new master, for some retainers to sign a sworn oath of loyalty to a family, or even a mutual vow of love signed by two lovers.

In Japanese: 起請文


Old province, which was made up of the current Wakayama prefecture and the southern part of the Mie prefecture. It was also called Kii.

In Japanese: 紀州

Kiso Yoshikata

==> Minamoto Yoshikata

In Japanese: 木曾義賢

Kiso Yoshinaka

Minamoto no Yoshinaka (1154~1184), who was also called Kiso no Yoshinaka, was a general of the late Heian period, playing an important role during the wars between the Genji and the Heike clans. Returning to Ky˘to after a battle, Yoshinaka was angered to find out that the Emperor had sided with his cousin (and rival) Minamoto no Yoritomo. He extended military control over the city, pillaging it and forcing the Emperor to bestow upon him the title of Sh˘gun. Minamoto no Yoritomo, angry at Yoshinaka's actions, ordered his brothers Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Minamoto no Noriyori to attack and kill Yoshinaka. Yoshinaka was quickly defeated, driven out of Ky˘to and killed by his cousins at the Battle of Awazu in 1184 [more details].

In Japanese: 木曾義仲

Kita Machi Bugy˘

One of the three machi bugy˘ in the city of Edo. Literally the North machi bugy˘. His official residence was physically to the north of the official location of his counterpart, the minami machi bugy˘.

In Japanese: 北町奉行


The title of Nene, the first spouse of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

In Japanese: 北政所


A fox.

In Japanese:


Literally a fox fire. A Japanese will-o'-the-wisp.

In Japanese: 狐火

Kiyari Ondo

A kiyari ondo was at the beginning a chant used by the lumber-carriers to bring good luck. It was also a custom for geisha dressed in tekomai to perform kiyari ondo during the major Edo festival. It can still be heard today at wedding ceremonies, celebrations for the completion of the framework of a building (house, shrine, ...) or some religious festivals.

In Japanese: 木遣り音頭


One of the most famous and beautiful temples in Ky˘to [more details].

In Japanese: 清水寺


One style of narrative music, originating in the Tomimoto style, and created by Kiyomoto Enjudayű I in 1814. The current head of the Kiyomoto school is Kiyomoto Enjudayű VII.

In Japanese: 清元


Raw-life sewamono drama, depicting the lower strata of the Edo society. The hero is a thief, a gambler or a prostitute. The kizewamono genre was created by the playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV and popularized by Kawatake Mokuami.

In Japanese: 生世話物


A (Buddhist) lecture meeting.

In Japanese:


A henchman; a follower.

In Japanese: 子分

K˘chiyama S˘shun

K˘chiyama S˘shun was a 19th century servant at Edo Castle in Japan. He served as a cha b˘zu in the administrative headquarters of the Tokugawa Shogunate. His role was to oversee the provision of personal service and serving of meals, and to run errands, for high-ranking officials like the Sh˘gun or daimy˘ at the castle. In 1808, he lost his assignment, and formed a band of outlaws, engaging in extortion and other activities. He was arrested in 1823, and died in custody. He became a model for characters in k˘dan, Kabuki ("Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana"), films and television dramas.

In Japanese: 河内山宗春


A butterfly.

In Japanese: 胡蝶


==> Nene.

In Japanese: 高台院


A traditional form of story-telling in Japan, which began in the 17th century. While tapping a small table called a shakudai with a paper-covered folded fan, the professional storyteller relates tales of war and martial valor and the occasional ghost story in a unique tone to make the audience imagine the picture he wishes to convey.

In Japanese: 講談


Funeral gift; condolatory money; condolence gift; incense money.

In Japanese: 香典

Kodomo Shibai

Troupes of Kabuki children-actors.

In Japanese: 子供芝居


Hand-held stage properties.

In Japanese: 小道具


One of the most important temples in the city of Nara [more details].

In Japanese: 興福寺

K˘ga Jisshu

A special collection of roles gathered by the star Sawamura S˘jűr˘ VII and transmitted to his heirs [more details].

In Japanese: 高賀十種

K˘ga Sabur˘

K˘ga Sabur˘ was a legendary man from Suwa (in nowadays Nagano Prefecture). He was said to have successfully traveled to the Underground World, where he rescued a princess.

In Japanese: 甲賀三郎


A small skeleton; a y˘kai shaped as a small skeleton.

In Japanese: 小骸骨


A shop or a man selling incense.

In Japanese: 香具屋

Kohata Koheiji

Kohata Koheiji was said to have been a former servant of a Kabuki actor. He later became an itinerant actor, but he was betrayed and murdered by his wife Otsuka and and her lover Adachi Sakur˘. This story was handled as a ghost play in Tsuruya Nanboku's drama "Iroeiri Otogi Z˘shi" in 1808 and has been taken up since in various forms, mainly as kaidanmono. We could find different possible readings for the name of Kohata Koheiji : not only Kohata Koheiji but also Obata Koheiji (Samuel Leiter in "New Kabuki Encyclopedia"), Kohada Koheiji or Kobata Koheiji [more details].

In Japanese: 小幡小平次


Kabuki dramas whose main character is Kohata Koheiji, a travelling actor who was murdered by his unfaithful wife. The most famous example in the current Kabuki repertoire is "Ikite-iru Koheiji".

In Japanese: 小幡小平次物


Kabuki dramas whose main characters are Inanoya Hanbŕ and the geigi Koina from the Shibaya-ch˘ pleasure quarter in ďtsu. Their ill-fated love story ended with a shinjű between 1704 and 1710. It was said that they committed suicide near a famous old pine tree in Karasaki on Lake Biwa. Koina was sometimes called Kohina.

In Japanese: 小稲半兵衛物


Koishikawa was an important neighbourhood in Edo, historically located in the Yamanote. It became one of the 15 official T˘ky˘ wards from 1878 to 1932, one of the 35 wards from 1932 and 1947. It was integrated within the Bunky˘ Ward in 1947 [more details].

In Japanese: 小石川


Kabuki dramas whose main characters are the courtesan Koito and her lover Sashichi (a fireman). Their sad love story leads to the murder of Koito by Sashichi. The most famous koito-sashichimono is "Omatsuri Sashichi".

In Japanese: 小糸佐七物

Koi Tsukami

A spectacular giant carp-catching scene in a Kabuki drama.

In Japanese: 鯉つかみ


A member of a k˘jű.

In Japanese: 講員


The Japanese form of the Hindi word ghra-pati meaning a householder, trader or farmer. In Japan, a koji was a devoted but secular follower of the Buddha.

In Japanese: 居士


A rice and mold mixture used to make sake [more details].

In Japanese:


A beggar.

In Japanese: 乞食


Prior to the arrival of Tokugawa Shogunate, there was a village named K˘ji-mura near the Castle. The area developed as townspeople settled along the K˘shű Kaid˘. K˘jimachi became an important neighbourhood in Edo, historically located in the Yamanote. Encompassing the Tokugawa Castle, it became one of the 15 official T˘ky˘ wards from 1878 to 1932, one of the 35 wards from 1932 and 1947. It was integrated within the Chiyoda Ward in 1947 [more details].

In Japanese: 麴町


Formal stage announcement. "There are often announcements from the stage, showing the close relationship between the actors and the audience in Kabuki. When the occasion is especially important, like the taking of a distinguished acting name, or commemorating the death of a great actor, the announcement becomes a separate act. The top members of the company assemble in formal costume to offer their congratulations and the audience is always delighted by this blend of kabuki style and glimpses of the private lives of their favorite actors" (from Earphone Guide website)

In Japanese: 口上


[Visual]. A prestigious rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: meritorious - superior - superior - excellent.

In Japanese: 功上上吉


The old j˘jűri. All the j˘jűri done in Japan before Chikamatsu Monzaemon's 1685 drama "Shusse Kagekiyo".
"Puppet plays of a sort go back in Japan at least as far as the twelfth century. The puppeteers, a gipsy-like people, wandered about the country, performing at festivals and wherever else there was a demand. The plays put on were probably elementary skits, perhaps incorporating legends of the shrines where they were performed. By the seventeenth century, when the puppet theater assumed much of its modern form, moralistic plays on Buddhist themes constituted the bulk of the repertory. Most puppet plays (or j˘jűri, as they were called) before "Shusse Kagekiyo" were crudely constructed and filled with stereotyped expressions." Donald Keene in "Major Plays of Chikamatsu")

In Japanese: 古浄瑠璃


A religious association.

In Japanese: 講中


An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 2nd day of the 12th lunar month of its first year (the 9th of January 1844 in the western calendar) and ended the 28th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1848 (the 1st of April 1848 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after K˘ka were Tenp˘ and Kaei.

In Japanese: 弘化


A Kabuki actor assistant on stage. He wears formal stage dress, decorated with the mon of his master. He has to make himself as inconspicuous as possible. This is another big difference with the kurogo, who is a prominent part of the composition on the stage.

Outside Kabuki, a k˘ken is a guardian. somebody acting as guardian of a person or looking after a business.

In Japanese: 後見

Kokera Otoshi

The opening ceremony for a new Kabuki theater.

In Japanese: 杮落し

Kokon Shibai Irokurabe Hyakunin Isshu

Title of an illustrated book, which was published in 1693. It can be translated as "Beauty Contest of One Hundred Actors of All Ages". The pictures were made by Torii Kiyonobu I. Starting with Nakamura Kanzabur˘ V and ending with Morita Kan'ya II, it listed 100 actors from Edo, ďsaka, Ky˘to or Ise.

In Japanese: 古今四場居色競百人一首

Kokon Yakusha Monogatari

An illustrated book which was published in Edo in 1678. "Kokon Yakusha Monogatari" ("Tales of Actors Past and Present") was a guide to the world of Kabuki, with pictures of theatres, actor's mon and famous scenes.

In Japanese: 古今役者物語


Kokubunji were Buddhist temples established in each of the provinces of Japan by Emperor Sh˘mu during the Nara period [more details].

In Japanese: 国分寺 | 國分寺


The Kokura Castle in Kyűshű. Built in 1602, he was in the hands of the Ogasawara clan between 1632 and 1860. It was destroyed in 1865 [more details].

In Japanese: 小倉城

Kokusai Kekkon

International wedding (one of the spouses being Japanese). Still a hot topic in nowadays Japan. Wat˘nai's father and mother in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's masterpiece "Kokusen'ya Gassen" were the first and only "international wedding" couple depicted in a theater drama. His father R˘ikkan was Chinese and his mother Nagisa was Japanese.

In Japanese: 国際結婚


An oriental fiddle.

In Japanese: 鼓弓


Literally the small dance. An old type of Kabuki dance, which originated from Ky˘gen dances derived from the theater. It was popular during the Yar˘ Kabuki ('Adult Kabuki') period and up to the end of the 17th century.

In Japanese: 小舞


During the Edo period, a komamonoya was a shop selling small everyday items.

In Japanese: 小間物屋

Komatsu Naifu Shigemori

==> Taira no Shigemori

In Japanese: 小松内府重盛


A famous pine grove in the city of Nara near the Kasuga Shrine. Literally the 'Little Pines Plain".

In Japanese: 小松原

Kome Arai

Washing the rice.

In Japanese: 米洗い


A rice seller/dealer; a shop selling rice.

In Japanese: 米屋


A babysitter in Old Japan.

In Japanese: 子守


A wandering and mendicant Zen priest with a flute, wearing a deep sedge hat that covers the face.

In Japanese: 虚無僧

Konchiin Sűden

==> Ishin Sűden

In Japanese: 金地院崇伝

Konjaku Monogatari

Konjaku Monogatari or Konjaku Monogatarishű. Literally the "Anthology of Tales from the Past". A collection of more than one thousand tales written during the late Heian period [more details].

In Japanese: 今昔物語

Konoe Hiroko

==> Ten'eiin

In Japanese: 近衛熙子

Konoshita T˘kichi

The Kabuki role name of Kinoshita T˘kichir˘ during the Edo period. Because of strict Shogunate censorship, the playwrights had to change the names. However, the changes were quite light and the audience had no problem to understand who was who.

In Japanese: 此下藤吉


Konpira or Konpira-san is name of a famous shrine in Japan dedicated to the God of the Mariners. The more official names are Kotohira-gű or Konpira Daigongen. It is located in the town of Kotohira in the Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku Island, near the famous Kanamaruza theater.

In Japanese: 金比羅


The first ideogram is a color: a dark/navy blue. A kon'ya is a dyer or a dyer's shop. Also called k˘ya.

In Japanese: 紺屋


K˘rai was in Japanese the Korean kingdom of Goryeo. It was located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula and was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Baekje (Hakusai) and Silla (Shinra) [more details].

In Japanese: 高麗


Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Matsumoto Haku˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Matsumoto Kingo, Matsumoto K˘jaku, Matsumoto K˘z˘ and Matsumoto K˘emon.

In Japanese: 高麗屋

K˘raiya Sandai Shűmei

A great shűmei for 3 generations of actors belonging to the K˘raiya guild. So far, it happened twice in Kabuki history. The first time was in October/November 1981 at the Kabukiza for Matsumoto Haku˘ I, Matsumoto K˘shir˘ IX and Ichikawa Somegor˘ VII. The second time was in January 2018/February 2018 at the Kabukiza for Matsumoto Haku˘ II, Matsumoto K˘shir˘ X and Ichikawa Somegor˘ VIII.

In Japanese: 高麗屋三代襲名


The K˘riyama Domain. An important domain of the Edo period in the province of Yamato. The capital of this domain was the city of K˘riyama centered around K˘riyama Castle. It belonged to the Mizuno, Matsudaira, Honda and Yanagisawa clans.

In Japanese: 郡山藩


The Castle of K˘riyama. The castle of the K˘riyama Domain, located in the castle town of K˘riyama in the province of Yamato, nowadays the city of Yamato K˘riyama in the prefecture of Nara [more details].

In Japanese: 郡山城


An incense burner.

In Japanese: 香炉


Spectacular murder scene in a Kabuki play. The most famous koroshiba is in the Kamigata play "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami".

In Japanese: 殺し場

Koroshi no Mie

A special set of 13 fixed mie done by the actor playing the role of Danshichi Kurobŕ in the famous murder scene of the play "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami".

In Japanese: 殺しの見得


Dances or dramas whose main characters are the lovers Kosan, a bathouse girl, and Kanaya Kingor˘, an ďsaka Kabuki actor. Both really existed (Genroku era).

In Japanese: 小三金五郎物


Strangulation of a person with a rope or one's hands.

In Japanese: 絞殺


A word without equivalent in English. K˘seki combines articulation, elocution and declamation.

In Japanese: 口跡


Medium trapdoor and lift located in the center of the stage and used to bring actors on stage. The koseri is set within the ˘seri.

In Japanese: 小セリ


A lecture; storytelling.

In Japanese: 講釈


Minor unlicensed Kabuki Theatres. Many Edo actors started their career and gained experience at Koshibai before being accepted in the major theatres.

In Japanese: 小芝居


A lady's maid (usually a low-ranking samurai's wive in the service of a daimy˘'s wife).

In Japanese: 腰元


The 57th day in the 60 days of the traditional Japanese sexagenary cycle. One of the 5 saru (other reading being shin) days in this cycle linked to the jűnishi (traditional zodiac). It is also synonymous of K˘shin Shink˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 庚申

K˘shin Machi

An important event related to the K˘shin Shink˘ belief. Also called yoi g˘shin.

ôK˘shin Machi was a vigil requiring members to stay awake for the entire night of days of the monkey designated as k˘shin by the sexagenary calendar. On this night, members of the believed that three worms existing in the body, and capable of producing great harm if one let down her moral and spiritual guard, reported the personĺs past conduct to Taishakuten the deity charged with guarding the integrity of the Dharma and juding peopleĺs behavior as being in compliance with Buddahĺs teachings. If the worms freed themselves and reported misconduct, then the person suffered the consequences of her actions. However, by staying awake to wait for the dawn and purifying herself through listening to sutras, observing taboos, and making offerings to k˘shin a person could keep the worms from departing her body.ö (William Lindsey in "Religion and the Good Life: Motivation, Myth, and Metaphor in a Tokugawa Female Lifestyle Guide", published by Nanzan University in "Japanese Journal of Religious Studies" in 2005).

In Japanese: 庚申待

K˘shin Shink˘

A folk belief in Japan with Taoist origins from China, introduced to japan during the Heian period and influenced by Shint˘, Buddhism and other local beliefs. The core of this belief is the concept that 3 spiritual corpses live in every human body. These corpses keep track of the deeds of the person they inhabit. On the k˘shin day, the 3 spiritual corpses leave the physical body and go to the Heavenly God to report the deeds of that person. The God punishes bad people, making them ill, shortening their lifespans or even ending their lives. therefore, K˘shin Shink˘ believers try to live without performing bad deeds. If they have reason to fear that they might be punished, they stay awake during k˘shin nights (an event called k˘shin machi or yoi g˘shin) [more details].

In Japanese: 庚申信仰


A little religious shrine dedicated to K˘shin Shink˘.

In Japanese: 庚申塚


A widow; a dowager.

In Japanese: 後室


A page.

In Japanese: 小姓


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current prefecture of Yamanashi. It was also called Kai.

In Japanese: 甲州


==> Hyűga

In Japanese: 向州

K˘shű Kaid˘

The K˘shű Kaid˘ was one of the five routes of the Edo period and it was built to connect Edo with the province of K˘shű [more details].

In Japanese: 甲州街道


A traditional Japanese winter leg warmer made up with a wooden frame making a table, a heavy blanket cover and a heat source within the table.

In Japanese: 炬燵


A Japanese horizontal harp.

In Japanese:


Literally the "old sword". The Kot˘ period, a long period in the history of Japan swordsmanship, started in 800 and ended in 1596 [more details].

In Japanese: 古刀


The third official court rank for m˘kan belonging to the T˘d˘za.

In Japanese: 勾当 | 勾當


Short ballads with shamisen, flute and percussion ensemble, which were used to accompany all kind of Kabuki dances at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. It was replaced by Nagauta.

In Japanese: 小唄


A drama with a mother and child sad separation scene.

In Japanese: 子別れ


The first ideogram is a color: a dark/navy blue. A k˘ya is a dyer or a dyer's shop. Also called kon'ya.

In Japanese: 紺屋


Child role.

In Japanese: 子役


Literally Mount K˘ya. Not the name of a real moutain but the name (sang˘) of sacred mountains with 120 temples located in Wakayama prefecture. The request to establish a mountain retreat made by the priest Kűkai was accepted by the emperor in 816 and the ground was officially consecrated in 819, K˘yasan is the center of the K˘yasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. The head temple is the Kong˘buji [more details].

In Japanese: 高野山


A small knife stored in the groove of the sheath of a Japanese sword.

In Japanese: 小柄


The K˘zu Shrine. A famous shrine in ďsaka (in the district of K˘zu in Chű˘-ku). It was founded in 866 and is renowned for its matsuri, which happens every 18th of July. This summer festival is part of the drama "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami".

In Japanese: 高津宮


Old province, which grosso modo corresponds to the current prefecture of Gumma. It was also called J˘shű.

In Japanese: 上野

Kubi jikken

Inspection of the decapitated head of a samurai, a prince or a lord. The climax of many epic dramas like "Terakoya" or "Kumagai Jin'ya".

In Japanese: 首実検


Standard wooden box, cylindrical in shape, used for a kubi jikken.

In Japanese: 首桶


Literally a mouth. The opening scene of an act in a gidayű ky˘gen.

In Japanese:


The 9th generation; the 9th holder of a name; the 9th actor in a lineage.

In Japanese: 九代目


Literally the Nine Levels Slope. The name of a famous slope in Edo/T˘ky˘.

ôIn the Edo period, there was a big hill that led up from Iidamachi. Keeping in mind the Yamanote [mountain hand] vs. Shitamachi [low city] geographical dynamic of Tokyo, Iidamachi was a shitamachi town for commoners; the top of the hill was a yamanote area for samurai. Originally, the hillĺs name was Iidamachi Nakazaka. The shogunate built a residence for officials who were working in nearby Edo Castle. The pitch of the hill was so steep that it had to be reinforced with stone walls and nine steps of stairs and the hill came to be called ĹKudanzakaĺ, the Nine-Levels Hill. After the Restoration in 1868, the daimy˘ were evicted and all the Sh˘gunĺs holdings in Edo were confiscated by imperial court. The Edo-era Kudan Residence was either demolished or repurposed, and the top of the hill was cleared for the construction of two new important structures. The first to be built was Yasukuni Shrine, the national shrine built atop Kudanzaka to enshrine those who had died fighting in service of the emperor during the Boshin War (1868-1869). The second was the t˘my˘dai, a lighthouse built in 1871 to help safely guide fishing boats into T˘ky˘ Bay and to showcase Japanĺs growing mastery of foreign technology." (JapanThis!)

In Japanese: 九段坂


highly dramatic scene in which an onnagata actor depicts a woman's sighs, tears, love, passion or regrets for the past. Somehow the equivalent of an aria for Kabuki female roles.

In Japanese: 口説き

Kud˘ Saemon Suketsune

Kud˘ Saemon Suketsune (1147~1193) was an important official of the Kamakura Shogunate and the head of the Kud˘ clan. His retainers murdered Kawazu Sabur˘ Sukeyasu and was he killed as a revenge by Kawazu's sons Soga Jűr˘ Sukenari and Soga Gor˘ Tokimune the 28th of the 5th lunar month of 1193 (the 28th of June 1193 in the western calendar). This revenge became of the of most popular stories in Kabuki (sogamono).

In Japanese: 工藤左衛門祐経


A noble man.

In Japanese: 公家


A noble villain in Kabuki who plots to usurp the power of the emperor.

In Japanese: 公家悪


Kugy˘ is the collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the Emperor of Japan from the Nara period to pre-Meiji times [more details].

In Japanese: 公卿


Kűkai (774 ~ 835), also known posthumously as K˘b˘ Daishi, was a Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet and the founder of the Shingon (literally "True Word") school of Buddhism. Kűkai was also famous as an artist, a calligrapher and engineer [more details].

In Japanese: 空海


Distinctive Kabuki make-up used for aragoto roles.

In Japanese: 隈取

Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane

==> Kumagai Naozane

In Japanese: 熊谷次郎直実 | 熊谷次郎直實

Kumagai Kojir˘ Naoie

==> Kumagai Naoie

In Japanese: 熊谷小次郎直家

Kumagai Naoie

Kumagai Naoie (1169 ~ 1221) was a bush˘ of the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura period. He was the eldest son of Kumagai Naozane. His tsűsh˘ was Kojir˘.

In Japanese: 熊谷直家

Kumagai Naozane

Kumagai Naozane (1141 ~ 1208) was a famous warrior at the service of the Genji clan at the end of the Heian period and the beginning of the Kamakura period. He killed the young Heike warrior Taira no Atsumori at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani in 1184. Later in life, he became a Buddhist priest. His tsűsh˘ was Jir˘ [more details].

In Japanese: 熊谷直実 | 熊谷直實


The 27th (from Edo) shukuba (post station) on the Nakasend˘ Highway.

In Japanese: 熊谷宿


The Castle of Kumamoto, one of the 3 most famous castles in Japan [more details].

In Japanese: 熊本城

Kumi Odori

Kumi Wudui in Okinawan. A form of traditional musical and narrative Theatre in the Ryűkyű Islands, which was created at the beginning of the 18th century by Tamagusuku Ch˘kun (1684~1734) in Shuri, the capital of the Ryűkyű Kingdom, and was inscribed in 2010 on the UNESCO representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity [more details].

In Japanese: 組踊


A spider.

In Japanese: 蜘蛛

Kumo no Sei

The spirit of a spider. An evil monster in legends and Kabuki dance-dramas: "Kumo no Hy˘shimai", "Kumo no Ito" and "Tsuchi-gumo".

In Japanese: 蜘蛛の精

Kumokiri Gonin Otoko

Kumokiri Gonin Otoko means literally the Five Men of Kumokiri. In k˘dan or Kabuki dramas, it was a gang of Edo thieves led by Kumokiri Nizaemon.

  • In k˘dan, Kumokiri Nizaemon had four henchmen, who were Inga Koz˘ Rokunosuke, Kinezumi Kichigor˘, Osaraba Denji and Subashiri Kumagor˘. Including the boss, we had indeed 5 men in this gang.
  • In Kabuki, Kumokiri Nizaemon had five henchmen, who were Inga Koz˘ Rokunosuke, Kinezumi Kishigor˘, Osaraba Denji, Subashiri Kumagor˘ and Yamaneko Sanji. Excluding the boss, we had indeed 5 men in this gang.
  • In Japanese: 雲霧五人男

    Kumokiri Nizaemon

    A famous thief who was active during the Ky˘h˘ era. He was the hero of many tales/dramas during the Bakumatsu period and at the beginning of the Meiji era. In these tales or dramas, he was the leader of the Kumokiri Gonin Otoko gang.

    In Japanese: 雲霧仁左衛門 | 雲切仁左衛門


    Unskilled laborers, colourful and unruly characters, who frequented the great highways (like the T˘kaid˘) during the Edo period.

    In Japanese: 雲助

    Kumo Taiji

    The extermination of the Spider. Not a little unoffensive spider but the giant evil kumo no sei.

    In Japanese: 蜘蛛退治

    Kumode Takoashi no Hikkomi

    A special technique used by the actor playing the role of the ferryman Tonbŕ in the "Tonbŕ Sumika" scene of the drama "Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi" to move forward by moving his hands like a spider (kumode, literally spider hand) and his legs like an octopus (takoashi, literally octopus leg), which expresses an old man who is in a hurry, but whose body does not move as fast as he wants it to.

    In Japanese: 蜘手蛸足の引っ込み

    Kumo Yoten

    A type of yoten costumes. Worn only (and occasionally) in "Kumo no Ito", the main pattern symbolizes spider threads.

    In Japanese: 蜘蛛四天

    Kuni Kuzushi

    Literally a nation demolisher. A larger than life jitsuaku aiming at destroying the ruling Emperor and taking over the Empire of Japan.

    In Japanese: 国崩し | 國崩し


    A traditional storehouse to store treasures and others valuables.

    In Japanese:

    Kuragari T˘ge

    A famous pass (t˘ge) at 455m at the frontier between the Nara Prefecture and the ďsaka Prefecture.

    In Japanese: 暗峠


    The village of Kurama, located on Mount Kurama.

    In Japanese: 鞍馬山


    Kurama Temple. Located in the village of Kurama on Mount Kurama near Ky˘to [more details].

    In Japanese: 鞍馬山


    Mount Kurama is a mountain to the north-west of the city of Ky˘to. The tengu who taught swordsmanship to Ushiwakamaru, used to live on Mount Kurama [more details].

    In Japanese: 鞍馬山


    Kuranosuke was the tsűsh˘ of the warrior ďishi Yoshio.

    In Japanese: 内蔵助


    The darkness.

    In Japanese: 暗闇


    The quarters of a head priest (and his family) in a Buddhist temple; a temple kitchen; a monastery kitchen.

    In Japanese: 庫裡

    Kuroda S˘d˘

    Literally the Kuroda Troubles. The daimy˘ of the province of Chikuzen Kuroda Tadayuki was denounced to the Shogunate by one of his kar˘, a samurai named Kuriyama Daizen. He reported to the authorities that his lord was establishing policies in his domain, the Fukuoka Domain, which could potentially undermine the Shogunate. As the domain was a rich one and Kuroda Tadayuki a powerful daimy˘, it quickly became the scandal of the year 1632 and kept many people busy for months. The final judgement was against Kuroda Tadayuki but he could manage to keep his domain.

    In Japanese: 黒田騒動


    Kabuki dramas about the Kuroda S˘d˘.

    In Japanese: 黒田騒動物


    Kabuki or j˘jűri dramas whose main character is the ďsaka otokodate Kurofune Chűemon, fighting against his arch-enemy Gokumon Sh˘bei. Kurofune Chűemon was based on a real life kyokaku named Nezu Shir˘emon (or Sumiyoshiya Shir˘emon) who lived and worked in ďsaka D˘jima during the H˘ei, Sh˘toku and Ky˘h˘ eras. The most famous kurofune-chűemonmono was "Kurofune Deiri Minato".

    In Japanese: 黒船忠右衛門物


    Kabuki stage attendants completely dressed in a black costum with a san-benito look-alike black cloth covering the face, the convention for invisibility on stage. If the background is a snowy landscape, they are dressed in white. If the background is the Sea, they are dressed in blue. Their roles are multiple: they bring or remove stage props, help actors during the costums/roles changes, animate fake animals or will-o'-the-wisps... Their technical skills and efficiency are essential for the success of many stage tricks. They are also called kuromb˘ (literally black fellows). The word kurogo itself is used for either the stage assistant or his black costum.

    In Japanese: 黒衣

    Kuro Yoten

    One of the five main yoten costumes. "The kuro yoten is a totally black costume except for the obi, which displays a striped design on a white ground. Kuro yoten carry a metal stick called a jitte which theoretically does the work of ten hands. The implement is the symbol of the kuro yoten role: that of a policeman in jidaimono and sewamono." (Ruth Shaver in "Kabuki Costume")

    In Japanese: 黒四天


    Literally the black mound. The place where repose the remains of the Demon-hag of Adachi-ga-Hara. "Kurozuka" is also the title of a famous Kabuki dance-drama.

    In Japanese: 黒塚


    An important domain in Chikugo, which was prosperous and ruled by the Arima Clan during the Edo period.

    In Japanese: 久留米藩


    Pleasure quarters. The most famous ones were Yoshiwara in Edo (T˘ky˘), Shinmachi in ďsaka and Shimabara in Ky˘to.

    In Japanese:


    Kusatsu-juku or Kusatsu-shuku. The 52nd (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 465.2 km from Edo and 26 km from Ky˘to [more details].

    In Japanese: 草津宿


    The kusaz˘shi are popular novels which heavily rely on illustrations to tell the story. They were published in Japan from the middle of the Edo period. The first kusaz˘shi writer was Ryűtei Tanehiko and his followers were Ryűtei Senka, Takahata Ransen, Okamoto Kisen, Ryűsuitei Tanekiyo, Mishina Rankei, Maeda Kosetsu or Aiba Koson.

    In Japanese: 草双子


    A bombastic tug-of-war involving Soga Gor˘ Tokimune and Kobayashi no Asahina, who pull the tassets of an armor. In the current Kabuki repertoire, the most famous play on this subject is the Nagauta-based dance-drama "Sh˘fudatsuki Kongen Kusazuri", which was staged for the first time in the 1st lunar month of 1814 at the Moritaza.

    In Japanese: 草摺引


    An old and traditional form of song and dance with a strong irregular beat originating from medieval times in Japan. It started during the Kamakura era and was particularly popular during the Nanbokuch˘ period up through the end of the Muromachi period. [more details].

    In Japanese: 曲舞 | 久世舞 | 九世舞

    Kushida Kazuyoshi

    Born in 1942, Kushida Kazuyoshi is an actor and director. After studying in the Haiyűza actorĺs school, he joined the Bungakuza theater company in 1965. He formed with others the company Jiyű Gekij˘ (literally "Free Theater") that would use the eponymous underground theater as its performance base. In 1975 the name was changed to On-Theater Jiyű Gekij˘ and Kushida continued to present a series of popular productions. From 1985 he began working in preparation for the opening of the Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon from the architectural planning stage in the capacity of artistic director. With the opening of the theater in 1989, he signed a franchise agreement with On-Theater Jiyű Gekij˘, which he also led, and introduced a repertoire system. Since then he has worked actively on behalf of Theatre Cocoon, bringing such programs as an annual production of A Midsummer Nightĺs Dream directed by different directors each year and initiating the Cocoon Kabuki series in collaboration with Nakamura Kanzabur˘. The Cocoon Kabuki remains a popular ongoing series today. At the conclusion of his term as artistic director of Theatre Cocoon in 1996, Kushida also dissolved the company On-Theater Jiyű Gekij˘. Since 2000, he has served as a professor of the Arts Dept, of Nihon University, and since April 2003 he has served as artistic and administrative director of the Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre [more details in performingarts.jp | more details in the Japan Times].

    In Japanese: 串田和美

    Kusunoki Masashige

    Kusunoki Masashige (1294~1336) was a 14th century warrior and strategist who fought for Emperor Godaigo against the Kamakura Shogunate during the Genk˘ War (1331~1336). His side lost the war and he was killed in action at the last desperate battle of this war. He was the father of Kusunoki Masatsura [more details].

    In Japanese: 楠木正成 | 楠正成

    Kusunoki Masatsura

    Kusunoki Masatsura (1326~1348) was the eldest son of Kusunoki Masashige and the head of the Kusunoki clan from 1336. He was a supporter of the Southern Imperial Court during the Nanbokuch˘ period [more details].

    In Japanese: 楠木正行 | 楠正行


    A drug/medicinal herbs (kusuri) peddler.

    In Japanese: 薬売り


    Four possible meanings for this word/ideogram:

  • A horse's bit.
  • A horse's bridle.
  • The 'horse's bit' mon: in the Kabuki world, this is the mon used by ďtani Hiroemon/ďtani Hiroji/ďtani Tomoemon lines of actors.
  • A brothel or a brothel owner (kutsuwaya).
  • In Japanese:


    A brothel/house of assignation/house of pleasure; the owner/manager of such a business.

    In Japanese: 轡屋


    Kuwana-juku or Kuwana-shuku. The 42nd (from Edo) of the 53 shukuba (post station) on the T˘kaid˘. 377.7 km from Edo and 113.5 km from Ky˘to [more details].

    In Japanese: 桑名宿


    A Buddhist memorial service.

    In Japanese: 供養


    A guest hall.

    In Japanese: 客殿


    Literally 'Capital Bridge'. The name of a famous bridge and a famous district in Edo/T˘ky˘. Ky˘bashi, together with Nihonbashi and Kanda, was the commercial core of Edo. When the canal under the bridge was filled in 1959, the bridge was simply removed and only a pillar stands to mark the site of the old bridge [more details].

    In Japanese: 京橋

    Ky˘gen (1)

    A comical farce in the theater.

    In Japanese: 狂言

    Ky˘gen (2)

    A generic term for a Kabuki drama.

    In Japanese: 狂言


    Literally a play script. The summary of a Kabuki drama with a list of actors who have performed it at the beginning of the pamphlet.

    In Japanese: 狂言本


    A ky˘genkata used to be during the Edo period a low-ranking playwright. Nowadays, a ky˘genkata is a Kabuki stage assistant, who is dressed in black, like the black-robed kurogo. "Ky˘genkata literally means people of the play, and they perform a multitude of duties which range from prompting to wielding the hy˘shigi, or wooden clappers, when the curtain is drawn." (A. C. Scott in "The Kabuki Theatre of Japan")

    In Japanese: 狂言方


    A Ky˘gen peformer.

    In Japanese: 狂言師


    An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 22nd day of the 6th lunar month of 1716 (the 9th of August 1716 in the western calendar) and ended the 28th day of the 4th lunar month of 1736 (the 7th of June 1736 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Ky˘h˘ were Sh˘toku and Genbun.

    In Japanese: 享保


    A popular and parodic subgenre of tanka, a form of Japanese poetry with a metre of 5-7-5-7-7. The form flourished during the Edo period and reached its zenith during the Tenmei era [more details].

    In Japanese: 狂歌


    A man of chivalrous spirit; a street knight.

    In Japanese: 侠客


    A Kabuki drama focusing on ky˘kaku.

    In Japanese: 侠客物


    An important, prestigious and rare rank in a hy˘banki. Possible translation: fast - superior - superior - excellent.

    In Japanese: 亟上上吉


    ==> Sato Gozen

    In Japanese: 卿の君


    A state of madness in a dance. The main character is frantically searching for somebody (a lover, a lost child) in a dazed state. The dance describes his/her mental disorder.

    In Japanese: 狂乱


    Dramas or dances dealing with ky˘ran. The most famous ones are "Onatsu Ky˘ran", "Yasuna", "Sumidagawa" and "Ninin Wankyű".

    In Japanese: 狂乱物


    An imperial era in Japanese history which started the 5th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1801 (the 19th of March 1801 in the western calendar) and ended the 11th day of the 2nd lunar month of 1804 (the 22nd of March 1804 in the western calendar). The 2 eras before and after Ky˘wa were Kansei and Bunka.

    In Japanese: 享和


    Guild name (yag˘) for the actors Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Ky˘z˘ and Nakamura Shibajaku.

    In Japanese: 京屋

    Kyűbi no Kitsune

    Literally the nine-tailed fox. This fox spirit loaded with magic powers is a common motif in the mythology of East Asian countries [more details].

    In Japanese: 九尾の狐


    Literally the "Old Yodo River". The main stream of the Yodo River before 1907. It was subdivided into 4 rivers: ď River (from the Kema Lock to the Tenjin Bridge), D˘jima River (from the Tenjin Bridge to the Funatsu Bridge along the north shore of Nakanoshima Island), Tosabori River (from the Tenjin Bridge to the Funatsu Bridge along the south shore of Nakanoshima Island) and Aji River (from the Funatsu Bridge to ďsaka Bay) [more details].

    In Japanese: 旧淀川

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