JANUARY 2014

1 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 6 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Asakusa K˘kaid˘, Shinbashi Enbuj˘) and 1 show in Ky˘to (Minamiza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2014 (Kokera Otoshi Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
Opening Ceremony Congratulation Early Spring Grand Kabuki
MatinÚe

Tenmangű Natane no Gokű
(Shihei no Nana Warai)

Kajiwara Heiz˘ Homare no Ishikiri
(Ishikiri Kajiwara)

Matsuura no Taiko

Oshi no Fusuma Koi no Mutsugoto (Oshidori)

Evening

Kanadehon Chűshingura
(Yamashina Kankyo)

Noriaibune Eh˘ Manzai

T˘keiji Hanadayori

Casting

Sakata T˘jűr˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Kaishun, Kataoka Takatar˘, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Matagor˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Band˘ Shűch˘, Nakamura Kash˘, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Sawamura Yoshijir˘, Nakamura Matsue, ďtani Keiz˘, Nakamura Kotar˘, Nakamura Yonekichi, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Nakamura Hayato

Comments

10th month celebrating the opening of the new Kabukiza within a 1-year long cycle of kokera otoshi programs.

  • Shihei no Nana Warai:
    (Shihei's Seven Laughs)
    The Heian period court minister Sugawara no Michizane is famous for being exiled to Kyushu by a political rival. He died angry and vengeful and was said to be transformed into a thunder god. His angry spirit was placated by making him a god and now Michizane is worshipped as Tenjin, the god of learning. This is the subject of one of the most famous plays of Bunraku and Kabuki ("Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami") and Michizane's political rival, Fujiwara no Shihei, is always depicted as a larger-than-life villain, an evil courtier with magical powers. This play, a rarely performed classic of the Kansai style of Kabuki, and reverses the story totally. Michizane (Nakamura Karoku) is the victim of slander and Shihei (Kataoka Gat˘) does his best to try to mend the situation, but unfortunately Michizane is exiled. But after Michizane leaves, Shihei shows his true self and in a famous scene, laughs triumphantly. Shihei engineered Michizane's exile himself.
  • Ishikiri Kajiwara: the Heike general Kajiwara (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) is asked to test the sharpness of a sword by slicing two live human beings in half. He deliberately makes the sword fail the test to keep the sword, a priceless heirloom belonging to the enemy Genji clan, from falling into the hands of his Taira clan. A miracle has convinced Kajiwara to change sides. Kajiwara finally demonstrates the true power of the sword by cutting a large stone basin in two. Featuring also Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura T˘z˘ and Ichikawa Komaz˘.
  • Matsuura no Taiko: Lord Matsuura (Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon) 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 is especially upset because he studied with the same fighting teacher as Kuranosuke, the senior retainer who should be leading the vendetta. Moreover, he learns from the haiku teacher Takarai Kikaku (Nakamura Karoku) that his student ďtaka Gengo (Nakamura Baigyoku) 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. Gengo's sister Onui (Nakamura Yonekichi) serves Lord Matsuura and in disgust he is about to dismiss her, when there is a disturbance from next door. The attack has begun, and in joy, Lord Matsuura counts out the strokes of the drum, struck in a pattern that is only known by students of his fighting teacher.
  • Oshidori:
    (The Lovebirds)
    A rare performance of a dance showing two men fighting over a beautiful woman in the guise of a sum˘ match only to show that the woman and one of the men are actually the spirits of birds, conjugal birds that are an image of faithful love. Starring Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Kaishun and Ichikawa Somegor˘.
  • Yamashina Kankyo: this is an act of the epic play based on a sensational incident in the early 17th century. Lord En'ya Hangan's attack on the senior official K˘ no Moron˘ affected people even outside his own household. When Honz˘, the senior retainer of another lord, stopped En'ya from killing Moron˘, he thought that he was doing a good thing. But his actions earned him the scorn of Enya's retainers and brought personal tragedy to his daughter who was engaged to Rikiya, the son of Yuranosuke, En'ya's head retainer. The scene shows the tragedy as it affects Honz˘'s wife and daughter and how ultimately Honz˘ sacrifices his life to atone for his misjudgement. Starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Honz˘, Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ as his wife Tonase and Nakamura Senjaku as his daughter Konami, with Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon as Yuranosuke, Nakamura Kaishun as his wife Oishi and Nakamura Baigyoku as his son Rikiya.
  • Noriaibune: at the new year a group of merrymakers happen to meet on a ferry boat. They include a pair of manzai entertainers, who would go from door to door performing auspicious songs and dances. Featuring Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Nakamura Matagor˘.
  • T˘keiji Hanadayori:
    (News on Flowers from T˘keiji Temple)
    It is originally written as a series of historical novels by Inoue Hisashi (1934~2010), adapted for Kabuki and first performed this month. T˘keiji is a temple in Kamakura, built in Kamakura period and famous for beautiful flowers of all seasons. It was a place of refuge for women in Edo era who wanted to divorce their husbands; women in Japan were not allowed to do so then. The scene is set in winter in Edo period in Kamakura. An apprentice doctor Shinjir˘ who also writes humorous novels lodges at the Kashiwaya inn which has those women under its charge. He talks with a merry woman Osen (Kataoka Takatar˘), a timid man S˘emon (Nakamura Kanjaku) and his wife Oriku (Kataoka Hidetar˘) who visit there hoping to get divorced, and learns the subtleties and warmth of human nature and the women' strong will who intend to start a new life.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2014
    Program

    Sanzen Ry˘ Haru no Komahiki
    t˘shi ky˘gen production including the famous "Umagiri" scene

    Casting

    Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Sawamura Tanosuke, Ichikawa Danz˘, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘, Ichimura Manjir˘, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Band˘ Kametoshi, Onoe Matsuya, Nakamura Baishi, Onoe Ukon, Ichimura Takematsu, Fujima Taiga

    Comments

    Tatsuoka Mansaku's drama "Keisei Haru no Tori", which is famous for the "Umagiri" scene, is revived at the National Theatre as a t˘shi ky˘gen in 5 acts (9 scenes), which is entitled "Sanzen Ry˘ Haru no Komahiki". The "Umagiri" scene, a scene where a horseman is cut down with a single slash by Oda Nobutaka at the Yamato bridge, is still part of the current Kabuki repertoire but it is not often performed. The stars of "Sanzen Ry˘ Haru no Komahiki" are Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke and Onoe Sh˘roku. This revival features also Living National Treasure Sawamura Tanosuke [more details]. By the way, 2014 is the Year of the Horse in the traditional calendar.

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 2 ~ 27 January 2014 (Hatsuharu Tokubetsu Buy˘ K˘en)
    Early Spring Special Dance Performances
    Program

    Mura no Matsukaze Ninin Shiokumi

    Ayatsuri Sanbas˘

    Ninin Fuji Musume

    Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri
    (Shinjű Asu no Uwasa)

    Casting

    Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Band˘ Shinsha, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Tsukinosuke

    Comments

    A special new year dance program at the Sh˘chikuza starring Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘:

  • Ninin Shiokumi: in the classical Theatre, there are few plays as evocative as Matsukaze, the story of a court noble exiled to the seacoast where he falls in love with two fisher women. The women make their living scooping up heavy buckets of sea water to make salt and this has become a famous dance. Starring Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke as the two fisher women.
  • Ayatsuri Sanbas˘:
    (The Puppet Sanbas˘)
    The Sanbas˘ is part of the ritual play "Okina", a prayer for prosperity and in Kabuki the vigorous Sanbas˘ dance is often performed separately. To make the dance especially auspicious, the old man Okina and attendant Senzai appear as well. In Kabuki, the Sanbas˘ dance appears in all kinds of versions. In this particular version, the Sanbas˘ is actually a giant marionette (Ichikawa En'ya), dancing lightly until his antics tangle his strings, creating problems for his puppeteer (Band˘ Shinsha). To make the dance especially auspicious, the old man Okina (Ichikawa Tsukinosuke) and attendant Senzai (Ichikawa Emisabur˘) appear as well.
  • Ninin Fuji Musume: the spirit of wisteria blossoms dances of love in the form of a beautiful young maiden. The scene is set in ďtsu City near the Lake Biwa. This dance is one of Kabuki's most famous and colorful dances. Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ will give his definitive performance of this dance in a special double version together with young onnagata star Nakamura Shichinosuke.
  • Shinjű Ashita no Uwasa:
    (News of Love Suicide)
    The story of the love suicide of Osome, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and Hisamatsu, a handsome young man that was an apprentice in her family's shop, is one of the most popular stories in Kabuki and was dramatized countless times. In 1813, Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~829) wrote up this story as a showpiece for Iwai Hanshir˘ V, an onnagata specialist in female roles. An actor acts several roles including the fastest fast change (hayagawari). This performance is a dance scene from it. Hisamatsu's fiancee Omitsu (a country girl) appears holding bamboo grass on her shoulder. She is shocked to hear that Hisamatsu is intimate with Osome and falls on the spot. A female monkey trainer (Ichikawa Emisabur˘) and a boatman (Ichikawa Tsukinosuke) come across her. The boatman raises her, but she tries to pick a quarrel with him as she is confused. They are perplexed at her madness and exorcise the evil spirit with the bamboo grass to calm her. As the female monkey trainer dances, Omitsu runs off chasing after Hisamatsu. Osome and Hisamatsu meet again, only to commit love suicide. The roles of Osome, Hisamatsu and Omitsu are played by Nakamura Shichinosuke. Starring Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in the role of Oroku.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 25 January 2014 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)
    Early Spring Young Actors Kabuki
    Program

    Kotohoide Mimasu Kagekiyo

    Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Shid˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, Ichimura Kakitsu, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Mantar˘, ďtani Hiromatsu

    Comments

    This drama presents the world of Akushichiby˘e Kagekiyo with new perspectives. He was a warrior in 12th century and famous for the episode in "The Tale of Heike" which depicts Heike clan at the height of its prosperity, its defeat to the Genji clan and its downfall. Aku in his name means bravery which he demonstrates in wars against the Genji clan. Many legendary stories have been passed down about him as a rebellious hero: He is said to have planned to overthrow the Genji clan even after the downfall of the Heike clan and have tried to assassinate the Genji general Minamoto no Yoritomo 37 times. His mysterious stormy life is taken up as an attractive material in many genres such as , Bunraku and Kabuki. Kagekiyo appears in 4 of the collection of the Eighteen Favorite Plays of the Ichikawa Family (Kabuki Jűhachiban): "Kan U", "Kagekiyo" "Kamahige" and "Gedatsu". Ichikawa Ebiz˘, who is struggling energetically to revive and success it, will fascinate you with aragoto bombastic style of acting which is unique for it. Please look forward to a gorgeous stage which is typical of New Year. Featuring Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Shid˘ and Ichikawa Sadanji in the roles of Akoya (Kagekiyo's lover), Chichibu no Sh˘ji Shigetada (Kagekiyo's enemy) and Mionoya Shir˘.

    Asakusa K˘kaid˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2014 (Shinshun Hanagata Kabuki)
    New Year Young Actors Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Otoshidama (Nenshi Goaisatsu)

    Genpei Nunobiki no Taki
    (Yoshikata Saigo)

    J˘shű Miyage Hyakury˘ Kubi

    Evening

    Otoshidama (Nenshi Goaisatsu)

    Bakuchi Jű˘

    Koi Bikyaku Yamato ďrai (Ninokuchi-mura)

    Yashiki Musume

    Shakky˘

    Casting

    Ichikawa Ennosuke, Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Kikaku, Band˘ Minosuke, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘, Ichikawa Juen, Arashi Kitsusabur˘, Nakamura Kash˘, Ichikawa K˘tar˘, Nakamura Umemaru, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Nakamura Yonekichi, Ichikawa Enshir˘

    Comments

    The yearly show for young promising actors at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ in Asakusa, a lively and colorful neighboorhood that keeps the scent of old Edo.

  • Otoshidama: a special k˘j˘ for new year greetings (nenshi goaisatsu in Japanese) with all young stars on stage.
  • Yoshikata Saigo: the full-length play shows the early rise of the Genji clan after a time of oppression. Yoshikata (Kataoka Ainosuke) is the lone member of the Genji clan and pretends to have no interest in reviving its fortunes, but Yukitsuna (Nakamura Kikaku) a good-humored footman who is actually a spy, realizes his true intentions. Yoshikata is about to have a son, the general Yoshinaka, who will lead the Genji to victory, but Yoshikata himself is attacked and surrounded and dies in a spectacular scene where he falls from the top of a flight of stairs.
  • J˘shű Miyage Hyakury˘ Kubi: this modern play was made famous early in the 20th century by Onoe Kikugor˘ VI and Nakamura Kichiemon I. Two childhood friends meet for the first time in fifteen years. One prides himself on his skill as a pickpocket, the other has always been very clumsy. The clever pickpocket steals his friend's purse, only to find that there is nothing in it and that his clumsy friend has stolen his purse instead. The two meet again and decide to live honestly and vow to meet again in ten years. The play shows the lives of the two during the turbulent final years of the Tokugawa regime. Starring Ichikawa Ennosuke, Band˘ Minosuke, Nakamura Kikaku, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘ and Kamimura Kichiya.
  • Bakuchi Jű˘:
    (The Gambling King of Hell)
    A dance adaptation by Ichikawa Ennosuke III of a farce with the same title. The hell is visited with a famine, as most people live up to Buddhism and go to paradise. Enma Dai˘ (Ichikawa Omez˘) becomes impatient and goes out to the fork to the hell where he awaits sinners with his servants. A famous gambler (Ichikawa Ennosuke) comes long way there and demands sake as he is thirsty from long journey. Drinking, he tells the story of his life: He quarreled to death with another gambler. Seeing his evil deeds reflected in a mirror, Enma Dai˘ criticizes him for robbing people of money and valuables. But he insists that gamble is a game of chance. Hearing this, Enma Dai˘ gets interested and plays dice with him. Enma Dai˘ continues to lose and loses his crown, scepter, mirror and everything he bets. The gambler gets finally the passport to the paradise and leaves triumphantly for the Pure Land.
  • Ninokuchi-mura: in the pleasure quarters, the most important possessions were money and reputation. In danger of losing his lover, the courtesan Umegawa (Nakamura Kazutar˘), the money courier Chűbŕ (Kataoka Ainosuke) breaks the seals on a package of money entrusted to him after being taunted by a rival, even though the use of such money is punishable by death. In this scene, on their way to love suicide, the couple go through the snow covered landscape on their way to the man's home town where they will meet their end. Featuring also Arashi Kitsusabur˘ in the role of Chűbŕ's father Magoemon.
  • Yashiki Musume: this dance shows two young women who are service at a samurai mansion and are excitedly going home for their one break in service for the year. Starring Nakamura Kazutar˘, Nakamura Umemaru and Nakamura Yonekichi.
  • Shakky˘:
    (The Stone Bridge)
    There are many plays about shishi or lion spirits in the Asian tradition, but the shishi is not actually a lion, it is a mythical animal that guards the stone bridge (Shakky˘) leading to the Buddhist paradise of Monju, the god of wisdom. Featuring Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Tanenosuke and Nakamura Hayato in the roles of the shishi.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 4 ~ 17 January 2014 (Zenshinza Hatsuharu Tokubetsu K˘en)
    Zenshinza Early Spring Special Performances
    Program

    Ippon Gatana Dohy˘ Iri

    Sh˘chikubai Yushima no Kakegaku

    Casting

    Kawarazaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Arashi Yoshisabur˘, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘

    Comments

    The traditional Zenshinza New Year performances at the Minamiza:

  • Ippon Gatana Dohy˘ Iri: this is a modern play by Hasegawa Shin and shows Komagata Mohŕ (Fujikawa Yanosuke), a starving, would-be sum˘ wrestler. He encounters a courtesan Otsuta (Kawarazaki Kunitar˘), who gives him her purse and hair ornaments and makes him promise to become a champion sum˘ wrestler. In turn, she promises to go see him make his ceremonial entry into the ring. But ten years later, Mohŕ has become a gangster instead. Now a powerful fighter, he rescues Otsuta and her family. Ironically, this has become the only way that he can repay her kindness and the shameful form that his entry into the ring has taken.
  • Yushima no Kakegaku: Oshichi was a grocer's daughter who fell in love with a temple page named Kichisabur˘ when her family took refuge in a temple after a fire. She so wanted to see him that she set a fire, even though the penalty for arson was death. The story of Oshichi is famous in many theatrical versions, but this particular one features the antics of the middle-aged man Beniya Ch˘bŕ (commonly called Bench˘) who is in love with her. Starring Fujikawa Yanosuke as Bench˘, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘ as Oshichi and Arashi Yoshisabur˘ as Kichisabur˘.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

     
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