Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Shibajaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Band˘ Yajűr˘,
Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Matagor˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Kamimura Kichiya, Matsumoto Kingo, Ichikawa Juen, Sawamura Yoshijir˘, ďtani Keiz˘, Sawamura S˘nosuke,
Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Matsue, Nakamura Kotar˘, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Matsumoto Kintar˘, Onoe Sakon, ďtani Hirotar˘, Ichikawa Otora, Nakamura Kichinosuke
The traditional two programs for the New Year Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza
with a troupe led by two Living National Treasures,
Nakamura Kichiemon and Band˘ Tamasabur˘!
Kuruwa Sanbas˘: the sanbas˘ is an auspicious dance based on the
ritual play Okina in the classical N˘ theater which shows an old man as a symbol
of longevity and the energetic sanbas˘ as a symbol of fertility and prosperity.
In Kabuki there are many different versions, but this particular one sets the dance
in the pleasure quarters and has a beautiful top-ranking courtesan in place of
the old man and a taiko mochi
entertainer instead of the boisterous sanbas˘.
To celebrate the New Year, this dance features Kataoka Takatar˘
as the courtesan and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as the taiko mochi.
(In Front of the Fushimi Inari Shrine)
This is a short scene showing the troubles of Yoshitsune after his brother Yoritomo, the Sh˘gun,
turns against him. Yoshitsune (Ichikawa Monnosuke) is forced to flee from the troops sent by his brother Yoritomo.
The trip will be hard and he decides he must leave behind his lover Shizuka Gozen (Nakamura Kotar˘), despite her passionate
pleas to remain with him. As a reminder of himself, he presents her with a precious hand drum that he had
received from the emperor. Yoshitsune's retainer Tadanobu (Nakamura Hashinosuke) rescues Shizuka from Yoritomo's troops and Yoshitsune decides to have Tadanobu protect her on the road, not knowing that this Tadanobu is actually a
magical fox in disguise. Featuring also Band˘ Yajűr˘ as Musashib˘ Benkei.
Ishikiri Kajiwara: the Heike general Kajiwara (Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon) 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 Shibajaku, Nakamura Karoku and Nakamura Matagor˘.
Ibaraki: there are many legends about the demon-quelling warrior Watanabe Tsuna.
He struggled with a demon on top of the Rash˘mon gate into Ky˘to and only
escaped by cutting the demon's arm off. This dance shows Tsuna (Onoe Sh˘roku)
as he is staying locked up in his house on the instructions of a fortune-teller
since the demon is sure to come to try to recover the arm. Tsuna's old
nurse (Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘) appears and at first he must turn her away, but finally
Tsuna relents and lets her in. She dances of the years she took care of
the young Tsuna, but oddly enough, she only uses one hand as she dances.
Finally she reveals that she is actually the demon, come back to recover
its arm. Featuring also Nakamura Ganjir˘ and Ichikawa Monnosuke.
Sh˘j˘: the sh˘j˘ is a
mythical sake-loving spirit that lives in the sea. In this dance, a
sake seller has a mysterious customer
that appears daily and drinks enormous amounts with great satisfaction.
The sake seller has a dream with
instructions to go by the beach with a large tub of sake.
As it turns out, the customer has actually been the sh˘j˘
in disguise. The dance shows two sh˘j˘ as they drink and dance joyfully.
Starring Nakamura Hashinosuke and Nakamura Baigyoku as the sh˘j˘ and
Onoe Sh˘roku as the sake seller.
Nij˘-j˘ no Kiyomasa: in the early Edo period,
the first Sh˘gun had a great problem in dealing with Toyotomi Hideyori,
the young son of Hideyoshi. Even though Tokugawa Ieyasu took control of Japan
away from Hideyoriĺs clan, it remained very influential and powerful.
Although the Tokugawa Sh˘gun was respectful and cordial on the surface,
he constantly searched for an opportunity to destroy Hideyori and his clan.
This play is one of many that focuses on Hideyoriĺs loyal retainer,
the elderly but still powerful Kat˘ Kiyomasa. Tokugawa Ieyasu (Ichikawa Sadanji)
invites Hideyori (Matsumoto Kintar˘) to a banquet at the Nij˘ Castle in Ky˘to.
Hideyori is at constant risk and is only protected by the constant vigilance of
Kiyomasa (Matsumoto K˘shir˘). Featuring also Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Kaishun and Ichikawa Komaz˘.
Yoshidaya: the roots of this play go back to the earliest days of
Kabuki. Izaemon, the son of a wealthy family, has been disowned for loving a
courtesan and now has nothing but a paper kimono. This role is a classic
example of the wagoto or soft style of
acting that is one of the representative acting styles of the Kansai region.
Nakamura Ganjir˘ stars as Izaemon, a role that is a specialty of his family's Kansai
acting style. Featuring Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as his lover, the courtesan ďgiya Yűgiri (Izaemon's lover),
Nakamura Karoku and Kamimura Kichiya as the proprietor and proprietress of the Yoshidaya teahouse.
Naozamurai: the thief Naozamurai has been betrayed and is on the
run. He risks one last meeting with his lover, the courtesan Michitose,
but he has never revealed his true identity to her and as far as she knows,
he is a wealthy merchant. On a freezing, snow-bound night, in a romantic scene
accompanied by the lush and erotic singing of Kiyomoto narrative music,
the two lovers Naozamurai and Michitose meet and part forever.
Starring Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Naozamurai and Nakamura Shibajaku as Michitose.
Featuring also Nakamura T˘z˘ as the anma J˘ga.
Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website