The great yearly Dankiku festival
for the Naritaya and Otowaya guilds, which commemorates 2 great stars of
the Meiji era: Dan = Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX
and Kiku = Onoe Kikugor˘ V.
This is also the hatsubutai of Onoe Kikunosuke's son Terajima Kazufumi, who is also the grandson of both Living National Treasures Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Kichiemon.
This young boy receives the name of Onoe Ushinosuke VII, a name unheld for 23 years, in May 2019 at the Kabukiza.
The new Ushinosuke performs in the dance-drama "Ehon Ushiwakamaru", which was written by the novelist Murakami Genz˘ and was premiered in February 1984 for the hatsubutai of Onoe Ushinosuke VI.
Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all
Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta
carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship.
In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for
their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important
Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto
style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style
of Jűr˘. This month features a cast of young actors headed by Onoe Sh˘roku as Kud˘
and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Nakamura Mantar˘ as Gor˘ and
Nakamura Baishi as Jűr˘.
Featuring Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Yonekichi, Onoe Ukon and Band˘ Kamez˘ as
Kobayashi no Asahina, the courtesan Kewaizaka no Sh˘sh˘ (Gor˘'s lover),
the courtesan ďiso no Tora (Jűr˘'s lover) and Oni˘ Shinzaemon (Jűr˘'s retainer).
Kanjinch˘: probably the most popular Kabuki play today,
it includes dance, comedy and the heart-warming pathos of a band of heroes
during their last days. Disguised as a band of traveling priests the
fugitive general Yoshitsune and his small band of retainers are stopped at a
road barrier. They escape only through the quick thinking of the head retainer,
a warrior priest named Musashib˘ Benkei, who improvises the text of an elaborate imperial
decree. Having escaped danger Benkei and the others describe their days of
glory and hardships on the road to escape in a moving dance.
This program stars Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the role of Benkei,
with Onoe Kikunosuke and Onoe Sh˘roku as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
Megumi no Kenka: they used to say that fights and fires were the
flowers of the city of Edo and many plays feature the gallent members of
firefighting troupes, who were popular heroes. This particular play depicts a
rivalry between the members of the Megumi firefighting band and a group of
sum˘ wrestlers, which ultimately is
a confrontation between the firefighters, who represent the commoner class and
the samurai patrons of the sum˘ wrestlers.
The fight begins with a minor incident, but grows into a situation of such tension,
that when Tatsugor˘, the leader of the firefighting gang, goes to his final fight,
he goes with the full intention that this may be a fight to the death.
Before he leaves, he has an emotional parting from his family.
Featuring Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ as Tatsugor˘ and Ichikawa Sadanji as the
leader of the group of sum˘ wrestlers.
Featuring also Nakamura Tokiz˘ (Tatsugor˘'s wife Onaka), Nakamura Jakuemon, Onoe Kikunosuke, Ichikawa Danz˘, Band˘ Rakuzen, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Matagor˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Band˘ Kamez˘, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘ and Ichimura Manjir˘.
Kakuju Senzai: this is a dance first performed in 1928 to commemorate the enthronement of Emperor Hirohito.
The crane is an auspicious bird which is believed to live happily with its partner and to live a thousand years.
Two cranes dance together to celebrate a peaceful new era. This will be performed to commemorate the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito on the 1st of May 2019.
Featuring Nakamura Tokiz˘ as the female crane and Onoe Sh˘roku as the male crane.
Ehon Ushiwakamaru: As the Heike clan is at the height of its prosperity,
Ushiwakamaru, son of the late Minamoto no Yoshitomo (general of the Genji clan,
the Heike's enemy), is on Mount Kurama
where he has become an apprentice swordsman. He is accompanied by his retainer, Benkei and together
they embark on a journey to the northern province of ďshű. Kiichi H˘gen, Ushiwakamaru's master,
gives him a book of military strategy as a parting gift. Onoe Ushinosuke will make
his debut this month performing the role of Ushiwakamaru,
with Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon,
Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Band˘ Rakuzen, Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku.
Musume D˘j˘ji: a beautiful young woman dances under cherry blossoms
at a dedication ceremony for a temple bell. She dances the many aspects of a
woman in love, but is actually the spirit of a serpent, driven to destroy the
bell out of jealousy. In addition to being the most famous of all Kabuki dances,
"Musume D˘j˘ji" is considered to be the pinnacle of the art of the onnagata.
The role of the shiraby˘shi
is played by Onoe Kikunosuke.
Gosho no Goroz˘: a portrait of the Yoshiwara
pleasure quarters at the height of its splendor. Rival gangs dressed
in the height of fashion exchange stately speeches before fighting
in the elaborate poetic cadences of Kawatake Mokuami, the last great playwright of Kabuki.
Goroz˘ is the handsome leader of a gang, but his lover, the top courtesan
Satsuki pretends to reject him to save his life. Tragedy strikes when Goroz˘
is driven to revenge. Starring Onoe Matsuya as Goroz˘, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ as his rival in love,
Nakamura Baishi as Goroz˘'s lover, the courtesan Satsuki and Onoe Ukon as ďshű,
a courtesan who is tragically killed.
Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website