JANUARY 2016

2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 6 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Asakusa K˘kaid˘, Shinbashi Enbuj˘) and 1 tour (Zenshinza)!

Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2016 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
Congratulation Early Spring Grand Kabuki
MatinÚe

Narukami

Makura Jishi

Rakuda

Evening

Katsuragawa Renri no Shigarami (Obiya)

Togitatsu no Utare

Shibahama no Kawazaifu

Casting

Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Chűsha, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Band˘ Shűch˘, Nakamura Kikaku, Nakamura Jűjir˘, Arashi Kitsusabur˘, Kataoka Matsunosuke, Nakamura Kamenoj˘

Comments

The traditional two programs for the New Year Grand Kabuki at the Sh˘chikuza with a troupe led by Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘!

  • Narukami: one of the most popular and universally appealing plays in the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection of plays featuring the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The holy man Narukami (Kataoka Ainosuke) is angry at the Imperial Court and has taken refuge in the mountains where he has imprisoned inside a waterfall the dragon that brings rain, bringing a severe drought to the country. Princess Taema (Nakamura Kazutar˘) is sent by the Imperial Court to try to seduce Narukami, destroying his magical powers and release the rain. When he finds that he has been betrayed, anger transforms Narukami into a Thunder God.
  • Makura Jishi: the keisei Yayoi performs a dance expressing her bitterness toward her dreary life in the gay quarters, but she gradually finds herself under the control of the lion spirit. In the second half of the dance, the lion spirit itself appears and performs its crazed dance among peonies and fluttering butterflies. Starring Nakamura Senjaku as both the courtesan Yayoi and the spirit of the lion.
  • Rakuda: this is a popular dramatization of a rakugo comic story. A petty gang boss named Rakuda (Nakamura Kikaku) has died after eating blowfish. Kumagor˘ (Kataoka Ainosuke), one of his gang members, finds him and hopes to bury him, but has no money. When he tries to get the neighbors to contribute, everyone is overjoyed that such a nuisance is dead, but won't contribute a cent towards his burial. Finally Hanji pulls in a passing waste paper collector named Kyűroku (Ichikawa Chűsha) and forces him to carry around Rakuda's body and threaten to make it dance if the neighbors won't pay up. They get a great sum of money and start drinking together. But as he drinks, the hapless Kyűroku becomes surprisingly aggressive.
  • Obiya: one of the most famous love stories in Kabuki is the love of the young girl Ohan for her middle-aged neighbour Ch˘emon, finally culminating in a love suicide between the two. This month at the Sh˘chikuza features the drama leading up to the romance between the two. Ch˘emon (Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘) is the proprietor of an obiya (a kimono belt shop) and his wife (Nakamura Senjaku) is very understanding, but the pressures of his family and the lustful jealousy of the boy apprentice next door (Nakamura Kazutar˘) finally drive Ch˘emon and Ohan (also Nakamura Kazutar˘), the beautiful young daughter of the family next door, together. This eventually leads to tragedy. Starring Nakamura Kazutar˘ in two contrasting roles, this play is a specialty of the Kansai style of Kabuki represented Nakamura Kazutar˘'s family. Featuring also Kataoka Ainosuke in the role of Ch˘emon's stepbrother Gihŕ.
  • Togitatsu no Utare:
    (Togitatsu's Revenge)
    This is a 20th century comedy originally written as one of many plays questioning the tradition of revenge plays. A skilled sword polisher named Moriyama Tatsuji and nicknamed Togitatsu (Kataoka Ainosuke) gets promoted to a high position in a samurai clan, but cannot stand the constant criticism of the chief retainer Hirai Ichir˘emon (Arashi Kitsusabur˘) and he finally kills him. The man's sons, a pair of brothers, Hirai Saijir˘ (Nakamura Kazutar˘) and Hirai Kuichir˘ (Ichikawa Chűsha), are forced by the samurai ethic to pursue their father's murderer, but as the murderer constantly flees, the brothers must continue their quest endlessly, putting their own lives on hold.
  • Shibahama no Kawazaifu: this is a play adapted from a rakugo story by San'yűtei Ench˘ which was originally performed in vaudeville by a solo performer. This tells the story of a man who is a drunk and good for nothing who picks up a leather purse full of coins while fishing. He takes it home and celebrates with a big drinking party. In the morning he asks his wife for the purse, but she insists that it was all a dream and shows how much money he has wasted with his drunken party. He decides to reform and becomes a hard worker. Three years later, the couple now lives comfortably and the wife says that she must apologize. She lied and hid the purse because she felt that this was the only way to get her husband on the right path. He thanks her and this purse which has given them so much. Starring Ichikawa Chűsha as the man and Nakamura Senjaku as his wife.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2016 (Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    Early Spring Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Kuruwa Sanbas˘

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura
    (Torii Mae)

    Kajiwara Heiz˘ Homare no Ishikiri
    (Ishikiri Kajiwara)

    Ibaraki

    Evening

    Sh˘j˘

    Nij˘-j˘ no Kiyomasa

    Kuruwa Bunsh˘ (Yoshidaya)

    Yuki no Yűbe Iriya no Azemichi (Naozamurai)

    Casting

    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

    Comments

    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 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.
  • Torii Mae:
    (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

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2016
    Program

    Koharunagi Okitsu Shiranami (Kogitsune Reiza)

    Casting

    Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Ichikawa Danz˘, Ichimura Manjir˘, Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Ichimura Kitsutar˘, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Band˘ Kametoshi, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Mantar˘, Ichimura Takematsu, Onoe Ukon

    Comments

    Revival in 4 acts (10 scenes) at the National Theatre of Kawatake Shinshichi II's drama "Koharunagi Okitsu Shiranami". This drama was successfully revived in January 2002 at the National Theatre.

  • Kogitsune Reiza: The illusory masterpiece by Kawatake Mokuami, a Kabuki writer dubbed Ĺthe great warehouse of Edo dramaĺ, will be restaged at the National Theatre in 2016 for the first time in ages to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mokuami. "Koharunagi Okitsu Shiranami", which was premiered at the Edo Ichimuraza back in 1864, was performed at the National Theatre in January 2002. Marking the first appearance after 138 years since its premiere, the revival in the form of t˘shi ky˘gen (full-length play) at the ďkabuki (grand Kabuki) was well-received by the public and repeat performance has been anticipated. And now, it will be rendered by recasting the characters as well as improving the stage setting and the grand-scale devices, the main attraction of the play. Against the backdrop of the internal squabbles of the Tsukimoto daimy˘ family over a missing butterfly incense container, unfolds a story that is a mix of jidaimono and sewamono full of good scenes with the attracting characters such as a legendary thief Nippon Daemon; a voluptuous, undaunted female thief Funadama Osai; and a handsome thief Kogitsune Reiza, a skillful manipulator of the fox magic. The opening act represents a spectacular flower-viewing scene depicting the origin of the family squabbles. In the second act, commonly known by the name of Setsugetsuka danmari (a dumb show of snow, moon and flower), the three main characters get in complete attendance. The fox magic by Reiza changes a lone house in the mountain (Snow) into the pampas grass fields (Moon) and then into the scene of cherry blossoms in full bloom (Flower). In the third act, the stage is transformed into a scene of everyday life of the licensed quarters with a lot of atmosphere. The act depicts a brilliant metamorphosis in which Reiza, posing as a young master, shows his true colors as a villain, wicked thief; an unexpected behavior of Osai, who racketeers by disguising herself as a mysterious conjurator; Osaiĺs reunion with Nippon Daemon composed by the flowing, elegant lines peculiar to Mokuami. In the final act, Reiza goes berserk against a group of arresting officials with the fox magic inside the torii (front guard frame) of the fox-deity Inari shrine, unfolding an action-packed fight scene. Starring Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ as Nippon Daemon, Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Funadama Osai and Onoe Kikunosuke as Kogitsune Reiza.
  • Source: National Theatre

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 24 January 2016 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)
    Early Spring Young Actors Kabuki
    Program

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Kurumabiki)

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Gokurakuji Yane Rippuku
  • Sanmon
  • Namerigawa Dobashi
  • Nanatsu Men

    Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Ichikawa Ukon, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, ďtani Tomoemon, Ichimura Kakitsu, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, ďtani Hiromatsu, Kataoka Takatar˘

    Comments

    The traditional Kabuki show for the New Year Young Actors Kabuki at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ with a troupe led by the young star Ichikawa Ebiz˘.

  • Kurumabiki: this short scene shows the three brothers that dominate the drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami", each with a distinctive personality. Sakuramaru (Ichikawa Shun'en) and Ume˘maru (Ichikawa Ukon) have been rendered masterless by Kan Sh˘j˘'s exile. The third brother Matsu˘maru (Nakamura Shid˘) serves the villain Shihei (Kataoka Ichiz˘), who is responsible for the downfall of Kan Sh˘j˘. Sakuramaru and Ume˘maru try to destroy Shihei's carriage but are stopped by Matsu˘maru and the magical glare of Shihei. Finally the brothers agree to suspend their disputes until they all meet at their father's seventieth birthday party.
  • Benten Musume: written by Kawatake Mokuami in 1862, this play was inspired by a woodblock print of a sexy young man with tattoos covering his body with a woman's hairstyle and kimono. A beautiful young woman comes to a clothing store with her servant, but is discovered shoplifting and beaten. When she proves that she was not stealing, her servant demands compensation. However, a samurai who happens to be in the store reveals that the young woman is actually a man, and he proudly announces his name as Benten Koz˘ (Ichikawa Ebiz˘), the thief. The servant is his fellow gang member Nang˘ Rikimaru (Nakamura Shid˘) and the samurai is actually the head of the gang Nippon Daemon (Ichikawa Ukon). The scene showing the five members of the gang in their finest kimonos under the cherry blossoms in full bloom is a kind of spectacle. In elaborate speeches, they each announce their name in the poetic diction for which the playwright Mokuami is famous. Benten, the thief drops the precious gold-lacquered incense container with plovers drawn on it into the Namerigawa River as he is surrounded by police officers betrayed by one of his fellows. He then commits suicide by stabbing himself with his sword in the stomach. Nippon Daemon is pursued by other police officers. The magistrate Aoto Saemon Fujitsuna (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) picks up the precious incense container from the Namerigawa River and parts with Nippon Daemon in the hope of meeting again in some day. Featuring also Kataoka Ichiz˘ as Tadanobu Rihei and Ichikawa Emisabur˘ as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • Nanatsu Men: A rare play from Kabuki Jűhachiban, the collection of the Eighteen Favorite Plays of the Ichikawa Family, that shows the mask maker Gagoze Akaemon (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) whose masks show roles for which the Ichikawa Danjűr˘ line of actors are famous. As disturbing incidents occur one after another, the Shogunate decided to perform a ceremony using Akaemon's masks to expel evil spirits. Akaemon who is famous also as a dancer begins to dance with his masks. Other mask makers join him enacting shichi fukujin, Seven Deities of Good Luck, and celebrate the New Year. Featuring also ďtani Tomoemon, Ichimura Kakitsu, Ichikawa Emisabur˘ and Ichikawa Ukon.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Asakusa K˘kaid˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2016 (Shinshun Hanagata Kabuki)
    New Year Young Actors Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Otoshidama (Nenshi Goaisatsu)

    Sannin Kichisa Tomoe no Shiranami

    Tosae

    Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi (Genjidana)

    Evening

    Otoshidama (Nenshi Goaisatsu)

    Kenuki

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura
    (Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata)

    Casting

    Nakamura Kinnosuke, Onoe Matsuya, Band˘ Minosuke, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Yonekichi, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Kunio

    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).
  • Sannin Kichisa:
    (Three Thieves Named Kichisa)
    The playwright Kawatake Mokuami excelled at portrayals of thieves and this short scene, with its music and poetic lines, is one of his most famous. A beautiful young woman helps out a woman who is lost on the road. But she is actually Oj˘ Kichisa, a male thief who is disguised as a woman. He steals an immense sum of money that the woman is carrying and this leads to an encounter on this riverbank of three thieves, all with the name Kichisa. The two others Kichisa are Osh˘ Kichisa, a bonze turned thief, and Ob˘ Kichisa, an ex-samurai turned thief Though they start out as rivals, they decide to become blood brothers and form a gang. Featuring Nakamura Hayato as Oj˘ Kichisa, Nakamura Kinnosuke as Osh˘ Kichisa and Band˘ Minosuke as Ob˘ Kichisa.
  • Tosae: a rarely-staged Kiyomoto-based dance-drama which belongs to the Band˘ school of Buy˘. It was premiered in 1973. This dance is about two dashing young Edo males, Nagoya Sanza (Nakamura Kunio) and Fuwa Banzemon (Band˘ Minosuke), who are full of swaggering manners and rivals in love in the colorful Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. They fight through dances for the love of Unemedayű (Band˘ Shingo), one of the top Yoshiwara courtesans.
  • Genjidana: Yosabur˘ (Onoe Matsuya) fell in love with Otomi (Nakamura Yonekichi) the moment he first saw her on the beach. Otomi was the mistress of a powerful gangster and, when their relationship was discovered, Yosabur˘ was cut from head to toe and the two were dumped into the sea. Otomi lived and was taken in by a rich merchant (Nakamura Kinnosuke). Yosabur˘, who is now covered with scars, turns into a petty thief and extortionist but one day, finds that the woman he is about to blackmail is none other than Otomi, alive and well.
  • Kenuki: in this play, which retains the light, festive atmosphere of early-period Kabuki, a princess has a mysterious ailment that makes her hair stand on end, an ailment that prevents her from carrying out her long-awaited marriage. Kumedera Danj˘ comes from the groom's household to investigate and finds a plot to take over the household when his tweezers float in mid-air. Band˘ Minosuke stars in a play that features the bombastic aragoto style of acting. Featuring also Nakamura Kinnosuke in the role of Ono no Harumichi.
  • Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata: the epic "Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees" ("Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura") features many characters around the famous general Yoshitsune, but none more memorable than a magic fox that takes the guise of Tadanobu, one of Yoshitsune's most trusted retainers. The fox wants to get close to a precious drum that Yoshitsune has made from the skins of his fox parents. In this excerpt from the longer play, the fox reveals his true identity with a series of spectacular stage tricks and Yoshitsune is moved to grant him the drum. Starring Onoe Matsuya as the fox Tadanobu. Also featuring Nakamura Hayato and Band˘ Shingo as Shizuka Gozen and Minamoto no Yoshitsune.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Zenshinza Tour
    Dates 13 ~ 31 January 2016
    Program

    Musume Gonomi Ukina no Yokogushi (Kirare Otomi)

    Casting

    Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Arashi Yoshisabur˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘, Anegawa Shinnosuke, Matsunami Kihachir˘, Masuki Hiroshi

    Comments

    A 2-month 34-date (17 in January and 17 in February) tour all over Japan:

  • Kirare Otomi: there are many plays in Kabuki that take some famous classic and change it around so that a very masculine character becomes a female character with both the strength of the original and a feminine delicacy and grace. The story of scarfaced Yosabur˘ is popular in Kabuki. Yosabur˘ is the handsome young son of a wealthy family, but he falls in love with Otomi, the mistress of a gang boss and ends up being cut up and tossed overboard at sea, together with Otomi. He survives, terribly scarred, and becomes a criminal. He goes to blackmail a woman who seems to be kept by a wealthy merchant only to discover that it is Otomi. In this version, it is Otomi that is scarred and who becomes a blackmailer. Starring Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ as Otomi, Masuki Hiroshi as the gang boss and Arashi Yoshisabur˘ as Yosabur˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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