NEWS FROM THE KABUKI WORLD
20 July
2016

An official panel has recommenended five artists to be named Living National Treasure in 2016. One of them is the Kabuki wakiyaku actor Nakamura T˘z˘ VI. He will be officially designated this year in September. This is the seventh Kabuki Living National Treasure. There are 4 tachiyaku (Sakata T˘jűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Kataoka Nizaemon), 1 onnagata (Band˘ Tamasabur˘) and 1 wakiyaku (Sawamura Tanosuke).

The 9th edition in T˘ky˘ of a special program called "Shűzan Matsuri" (the festival of Shűzan) will be staged at the Kabukiza in September 2016. It will commemorate the great actor Nakamura Kichiemon I, whose's haimy˘ was Shűzan. The zagashira will be his adopted son, the Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon II and the top guest star will be Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘. The two highlights will be "Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari" in the afternoon program and "Yoshinogawa" in the evening program. "Goban Tadanobu", which was staged only one time since the end of the WWII (in December 2011 at the Nissay Theatre), will also be staged. The rarely-staged dance-drama "Genroku Hanami Odori" will close the evening program with Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in the leading role. Nakamura Kichiemon II's disciple Nakamura Kichinosuke III will join the first league of Kabuki actors ("kanbu sh˘shin") and will receive the name of Nakamura Kichinoj˘ III [more details].

All the scenes from "Ochiudo" to "Gion Ichiriki Jaya" of the classic "Kanadehon Chűshingura" will be staged in November 2016 at the National Theatre [more details]. It will be the second month of a 3-month t˘shi ky˘gen production of the most important Kabuki drama to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the National Theatre!

"Ishikawa Goemon", which was premiered in January 2015 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘, will be staged in November 2016 in Fukuoka at the Hakataza [more details].

There will be a special 3-city Autumn Kabuki Buy˘ tour in November 2016 sponsored by the Sh˘chiku with Kataoka Ainosuke and Kamimura Kichiya [more details].

Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Nakamura Shid˘ will be on tour in October 2016. It will be an original tour, which will mix and Kabuki. The drama "Ataka" and the famous Kabuki dance-drama "Kanjinch˘", the Kabuki version of "Ataka", will be staged [more details]. This tour will be entitled Koten he no Izanai, literally "Invitation to the Classics". Among others dates, it will be staged from the 8th to the 11th at the Yachiyoza, from the 18th to the 19th at the NHK ďsaka Hall and from the 25th to the 26th at the Asakusa.

Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will be on tour from the 17th to the 24th of September 2016 in Narita, Maebashi, Nagano, Akita and Aomori [more details].

The 1st edition of the Kudanji no Kai, a special gala which stars Ichikawa Ebiz˘'s disciple Ichikawa Kudanji, will happen in two cities:

  • The 1st and 2nd of September 2016 in T˘ky˘ at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ [more details].
  • The 10th of September 2016 in ďsaka at the Morinomiya Piloti Hall [more details].
  • 3 new flyers for the coming shűmei performances at the Kabukiza of Nakamura Shikan VIII:

    2nd edition of the gala of the Sora no Kai (literally "the Sky Association"), which stars Kataoka Matsujűr˘, Kataoka Senjir˘, Kataoka Senju. They will perform from the 29th of July to the 1st of August 2016 in ďsaka at the Kintetsu Art Kan in a newly-created drama entitled "Ise Sangű Kami no Nigiwai" [more details]. These performances are entitled Abeno Kabuki (Abeno is the name of a famous district in ďsaka).

    Opening the 1st of July 2016 of a special concept room, the Kabuki Room, at the Hotel Gracery Ky˘to Sanj˘ [more details in Japanese | picture]. For the die-hard Kabuki fans only.

    A few interesting links for the July Kabuki programs at the Kabukiza or the Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre:

    30 June
    2016

    Waterways occupy as much as ten percent of ďsaka's city area, and have played a crucial role in its development as a strategic point in land and water transportation. One of the most picturesque among the city's numerous rivers and canals is the D˘tonbori, which flows today through ďsaka's vibrant entertainment district. From the Edo period in the 17th century, rows of theaters formed along the river, and the area became the center for both Kabuki and Bunraku. It is a custom to do funa norikomi before July Grand Kabuki at the Sh˘chikuza [more details]. Actors, including Nakamura Jakuemon V who will celebrate next month his shűmei in ďsaka, in the July casting arrived at the theater the 29th of June 2016 in a colorful boat parade, applauded by fans and spectators on the bridges or the banks [pictures and more details in Japanese].

    All the scenes for the first three acts of the classic "Kanadehon Chűshingura" will be staged in October 2016 at the National Theatre [more details]. It will be the first month of a 3-month t˘shi ky˘gen production of the most important Kabuki drama to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the National Theatre!

    The October 2016 kaomise programs in Nagoya have been published. The zagashira will be Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon. As the Misonoza closed in Spring 2013, these programs will be staged at the Nihon Tokushu T˘gy˘ Shimin Kaikan for the fourth time, a venue commonly called NTK Hall in Nagoya [more details]. The hightlights will be the following ones:

  • "Jiisan Baasan" with Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon and Nakamura Tokiz˘ in the leading roles.
  • The classic "Terakoya" with Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Takatar˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Nakamura Baishi in the roles of Matsu˘maru, Chiyo, Takebe Genz˘ and Tonami.
  • The revival of the rarely-staged drama "Shinagawa Shinjű". This drama was premiered in October 1961 at the T˘yoko Hall. It was also staged in May 1962 at the ďsaka Shinkabukiza. No staging for more than 54 years!
  • The August 2016 Cool-Breeze Kabuki programs at the Kabukiza have been published! The leading actors will be Nakamura Hashinosuke, Ichikawa Ennosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Shid˘ and Kataoka Kamez˘. There will be a non-Kabuki guest: Suruga Tar˘. Nakamura Senjaku will play the role of Oginoya Yaegiri in "Yaegiri Kuruwa Banashi". The rarely-staged dance-drama "Benikan" will be staged in the afternoon program. A newly-created Kabuki drama, which is entitled "Kuruwa Banashi Yamanaya Urazato", and "Tsuchi Gumo", with Nakamura Hashinosuke in the role of the spirit of the ground spider, will be staged in the evening program [more details].

    Sh˘chiku Grand Kabuki Tour in Japan in October 2016. The spectacular drama "Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi", which belongs to the Ennosuke Jűhachiban collection of plays, will be staged for the very first time on tour. This drama full of keren will be produced in a lighter version (less roles to be performed) but the amazing chűnori with the huge cat-spirit will be part of the production. Depending on the city, there will be either one program (A prog) or two programs (A prog in the afternoon, B prog in the evening). In A prog, Ichikawa Ennosuke will play the roles of Yurugi Shirabenosuke and the old woman Osan, in reality the cat-spirit of Okazaki. Band˘ Minosuke will play 13 roles. In B prog, it will be the opposite [more details].

    The 2nd edition of the S˘ch˘kai (literally "the Two Butterflies Association"), which stars Nakamura Kash˘ and his brother Nakamura Tanenosuke, will happen the 24th and the 25th of August 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the National Theatre [more details].

    The 3rd edition of the Sh˘ no Kai, a gala program which stars Nakamura Tomijűr˘ V's son Nakamura Takanosuke, will happen in T˘ky˘ at the National N˘ Theatre the 8th of August 2016. Nakamura Takanosuke will perform in "Kakitsubata" and "Sukeroku". His sister Watanabe Aiko will perform in "Shiokumi". The long-time NHK announcer Kasai Seiji will be a guest in charge of all the talking [more details].

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will perform the 22nd of September 2016 in a special Kabuki program in the precincts of the Kanjizai˘in, which belongs to the historic monuments and religious sites of Hiraizumi, temples, gardens and archaeological sites in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture [more details].

    Pictures for the Opening Days at the Kabukiza or the Cocoon Kabuki, interesting posters for the July programs, ... here they are below:

    The 1st of July 2016 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza, there will be a special charity event to help the relief efforts following the terrible Kumamoto earthquakes. It will be possible to watch a stage rehearsal, a really rare opportunity [more details in Japanese].

    Onoe Matsuya will perform outside Kabuki in August 2016 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘. He will perform in the musical drama "Tanuki Goten".

    At the Kabukiza Gallery (5th floor of the Kabukiza building), there will be the 17th of July 2016 a session entitled "HOW TO ENJOY KABUKIZA THEATRE" [flyer | more details]. This is the second edition. The 1st edition occurred the 26th of June 2016 at the same place.

    31 May
    2016

    Obituary: the director Ninagawa Yukio passed away the 12th of May 2016 of complications from pneumonia. He was known throughout the world for productions of Shakespeare plays or Greek tragedies and his blending of traditional and modern theatrical techniques. He directed Kabuki actors in a famous adaptation of Shakespeareĺs "Twelfth Night", which was entitled "Ninagawa Jűniya" and was premiered in July 2005 at the Kabukiza. It was staged in July 2007 at the Kabukiza [more details], in March 2009 at the Barbican Theater (London), in June 2009 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ and in July 2009 at the Sh˘chikuza.

    Obituary: the actor Kataoka Ichimatsu (1927 ~ 2016) passed away the 20th of May 2016. He was, since the passing away of Ichimura Tsuruz˘ (1924~2015) the 26th of December 2015, the oldest Kabuki actor.

    The National Theatre will celebrate its 50th anniversary from October 2016. "Kanadehon Chűshingura" will be staged over 3 months as a t˘shi ky˘gen:

  • October 2016: the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th acts will be staged with Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Yuranosuke and Nakamura Baigyoku as En'ya Hangan.
  • November 2016: "Ochiudo" and the 5th, 6th and 7th acts will be staged with Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon as Yuranosuke and Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ as Kanpei.
  • December 2016: the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th acts will be staged with Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Honz˘ and Nakamura Baigyoku as Yuranosuke.
  • The roles performed by Nakamura Shikan VIII for his 2-month shűmei in T˘ky˘ at the Kabukiza have been selected! In October 2016, Nakamura Shikan VIII will play the roles of Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane and Banzuiin Ch˘bŕ in "Kumagai Jin'ya" and "Kiwametsuki Banzui Ch˘bŕ". In November 2016, he will play the roles of Sasaki Moritsuna and the father shishi in "Moritsuna Jin'ya" and "Renjishi". The dance-drama "Renjishi" will be a special version with 3 shishi cubs, played by Nakamura Hashinosuke IV, Nakamura Fukunosuke III and Nakamura Utanosuke IV, who are the 3 sons of Nakamura Shikan VIII.

    Ichikawa Ukon will take the name of Ichikawa Udanji III in January 2017 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘. His son will make his debut on stage (hatsubutai) and will receive the name of Ichikawa Ukon II. The name of Ichikawa Udanji has not been used for almost 80 years. Both Ichikawa Udanji I and Ichikawa Udanji II were Kamigata actors and they were famous for their keren performances. The new Udanji was born in Kansai and he is also accustomed to spectacular stage tricks. He will change his yag˘ to Takashimaya but he will keep on performing with the Omodakaya guild.

    The programs for the July 2016 Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza have been published [more details]. The zagashira will be Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and the main performing troupe will be the Omodakaya (under the command of Ichikawa Ennosuke). Ichikawa Sadanji will be an important guest. A lighter version of "Kotohoide Mimasu Kagekiyo", which was premiered in January 2014 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ [more details], will be staged. It will be made up of two spectacular dramas, "Kamahige" and "Kagekiyo", which belongs to the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection.

    Nakamura Senjaku, who will play the role of Oiwa (and Oiwa ghost) in "Yotsuya Kaidan" in June 2016 at the Cocoon Kabuki, went, along with Nakamura Shichinosuke and the playwright Kushida Kazuyoshi, at the Oiwa Inari Tamiya Shrine, the shrine dedicated to the spirit of Oiwa, in Yotsuya (T˘ky˘) the 6th of May 2016 to pray for the success of the coming performances and to get some protection from the spirit of Oiwa. Kabuki actors do believe that there is always the risk of Oiwa curse when they perform "Yotsuya Kaidan". To avoid the curse, the only way is to go to the Oiwa Inari Tamiya Shrine and pray for safe acting [pictures and more details in Japanese].

    Nakamura Jakuemon V will celebrate his shűmei in the western provinces in September 2016 [more details].

    An important funa norikomi was scheduled on the Hakata River in Fukuoka the 29th of May 2016, before June Grand Kabuki at the Hakataza which will celebrate the shűmei of Nakamura Jakuemon V in Fukuoka [more details]. Due to heavy rains, the actors could not board the colorful boats in order to be applauded by fans and spectators on the bridges or the banks of the Hakata river. No funa norikomi but there was the traditional ceremonial hand-clapping (koshiki tejimeshiki in Japanese) in the Hakata Riverain Square [more details with pictures].

    Nakamura Jakuemon V went the 28th of May in the ďsaka Minami Cemetery to pray in front of the tombstone of Nakamura Jakuemon II and Nakamura Jakuemon III [picture].

    The two latest releases (25th and 26th) in the Shinema Kabuki ("Cinema Kabuki") series, "ONE PIECE" and "Akoya", which were shot live in high definition in November 2015 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ and in October 2015 at the Kabukiza, will be released all over Japan from the 22nd of October 2016 ("ONE PIECE") and from the 7th of January 2017 ("Akoya").

    5th edition in July 2016 in the city of Matsumoto of a Kabuki program called Shinshű Matsumoto Grand Kabuki (Shinshű is an old name for the province of Nagano, whose main city is Matsumoto), which happens every two year since July 2008. It will be the same program as the 15th edition of the Cocoon Kabuki in T˘ky˘ [more details].

    The 2nd edition of the Ken no Kai, which stars Onoe Kikugor˘ VI's great-grandson Onoe Ukon, will happen the 6th and the 7th of August 2016 in T˘ky˘ at the National Theatre. Ken no Kai literally means "Ken's Association" with Ken being the first ideogram in Onoe Ukon's real first name Kensuke. Ichikawa Somegor˘ will be a guest star [more details].

    The special program starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and mixing Kabuki, and Opera, which was staged in April 2016 at the Ky˘to Gekij˘, will be staged in Nagoya at the Chűnichi Theatre from the 4th to the 7th of August 2016 [more details].

    Onoe Matsuya will perform from the 13th to the 15th of July 2016 at the Cerulean Tower Noh Theater in T˘ky˘ in the 8th edition of his yearly gala program, which is entitled IDOMU (Challenge in Japanese). His two guest stars will be the ky˘genshi Miyake Sukenori and Miyake Chikanari [more details].

    Kataoka Senju will perform in June 2016 at the Sh˘chikuza in the non-Kabuki comedy "Shichihenge Nezumi Koz˘ Torimonoch˘". He will play the role of the onnagata actor Arashi Hinasuke.

    Please do find below the link an interesting flyer for the June Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza:

    30 April
    2016

    Nakamura Jakuemon V will play the roles of ďgiya Yűgiri, Otomi and Osome in "Yűgiri Nagori no Sh˘gatsu", "Kirare Yosa" and "Toribeyama Shinjű" to celebrate his shűmei in July 2016 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza [more details].

    The 2nd of April 2016, the young star Ichikawa Ennosuke IV did his 800th chűnori. It happened at the Hakataza in the Super Kabuki II drama "ONE PIECE". His first chűnori occurred in October 1985 at the Kabukiza in the drama "Futago Sumidagawa". He was still a child and did the chűnori along with his uncle Ichikawa Ennosuke III and Onoe Kikugor˘ VII. His next challenge might be to do more chűnori than his uncle but there is a long way to go as his uncle did it more than 5000 times.

    The 14th of April at the Hakataza, the 16th of April at the Kabukiza, Meijiza and Kanamaruza, actors personally collected donations from audience members to help the relief efforts following the terrible Kumamoto earthquakes [pictures and more details in Japanese]. The 14th of April, Ichikawa Ennosuke made a speech on stage and ended it with the lyrics of the ONE PIECE song: "Even in the darkest of times, there's no such thing as an endless night, let's join hands and wish on a star".

    7 actors led by Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ went to the Konpira Shrine the 8th of April 2016 to pray for the success of April 2016 performances at the Kanamaruza, where Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV was about to celebrate his shűmei from the 9th of April. Afterwards, The 7 stars were paraded in the streets of Kotohira in rickshaws [pictures and more details in Japanese|more details about the performances].

    Please do find below the links to the latest playbills of coming Kabuki programs. The one for Cocoon Kabuki is both original and mind-disturbing:

    A few articles about Kabuki in Las Vegas in May 2016:

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will perform the 29th of May 2016 longevity dance (suodori) of Musashib˘ Benkei, a famous section from the dance-drama "Kanjinch˘", on the stage of the Itsukushima Shrine.

    Nakamura Ganjir˘ was the big chief of the Police Station in Kotohira for 1 day the 14th of April 2016 [pictures and more details in Japanese].

    Ichikawa Ennosuke will perform in a modern drama in May 2016, from the 20th to the 22nd of May at the Shunjűza (a theater located within the Ky˘to University of Arts and Design) and from the 24th to the 26th of May at the Yachiyoza. The drama is entitled "Otokotachi no Sumika - Dokkoi! Oretachi ha koko ni Iru" ("The Home of Men - Hold on! We are here"). The script was written by Osabe S˘suke, who will also be the director.

    Nakamura Kazutar˘ will perform outside Kabuki in Noda Hideki's drama "Sandaime, RichÔdo" ("Sandaime, Richard") which is not an adaptation of William Shakespeare's masterpiece "Richard III" but a a playful take on the Shakespearean play in which the Bard himself is put on trial for defaming the royal schemer through his works. He will play the role of Richard Sandaime in this comedy at the Fuji no Kuni World Theater Festival 2016 at the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center from the 29th of April to the 1st of May 2016. The play will be directed by Ong Keng Sen and Nakamura Kazutar˘ will share the stage with the actress Janice Koh. It will also be staged in Singapore from the 8th to the 10th of September 2016 at the Victoria Theatre [more details about "Sandaime, Richard"].

    There will be an exhibition of Kabuki costumes in the city of Narita at the Narita Cultural Art Center from the 12th to the 22nd of May 2016 [flyer].

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Anthony Roth Costanzo went to the Ky˘to Tower to pray at the Tawawa-chan Shrine for the success of April 2016 performances at the Ky˘to Gekij˘. The Tawawa-chan Shrine was built in 2014, as part of the 50th anniversary project of the tower's inauguration, in the observation deck of the tower. It is dedicated to Tawawa-chan, the mascot of the tower ... [pictures and more details in Japanese].

    Actress Fujiwara Norika and Kabuki actor Kataoka Ainosuke have registered their marriage according to their management agencies.

    31 March
    2016

    Obituary: : the actor Nakamura Utae (1932~2016) passed away the 26th of March 2016.

    There will be a Kabuki tour in Europe in May 2016: Band˘ Yajűr˘ and his son Band˘ Shingo will perform in Paris from the 12th to the 14th of May at the Maison de la Culture du Japon Ó Paris, in Geneva from the 17th to the 18th of May at the BFM (ThÚodore Turrettini Hall) and in Madrid from the 21st to the 22nd of May at the Circulo Bellas Artes. It will be the second edition of a gala program called Yago no Kai for Band˘ Yajűr˘ and his son Band˘ Shingo (Ya comes from Yajűr˘ and Go from Shingo). There will be 3 items in the program: the dance "Omatsuri", a talk about "how to appreciate Kabuki" and the dance-drama "Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Seki no To" [flyer for the performances in Geneva].

    The world of Kabuki and the world of Otaku will collide at the end of April 2016! A new style will result from this spectacular collision: Ch˘kabuki (literally Ultra-Kabuki)! Nakamura Shid˘, performing the role of Sat˘ Shiroby˘e Tadanobu (in reality the fox Genkur˘), will share the stage with the virtual 3D creature Hatsune Miku. They will perform together in a Ch˘kabuki dance-drama which will be choreographed by Fujima Kanjűr˘ VIII and will be entitled "Hana Kurabe Senbon Zakura". It will staged at the Makuhari Messe the 29th and the 30th of April 2016, as part of the Niconico Ch˘kaigi 2016 event, an important yearly event for the Otaku tribes [more details | the flyer | a video of Hatsune Miku | website].

    Onoe Kikunosuke's son Terashima Kazufumi, who is also the grandson of two Living National Treasures, Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Kichiemon, will make his first stage appearance (omemie) for the yearly Dankiku festival in May 2016 at the Kabukiza. This festival for the Naritaya and Otowaya guilds commemorates 2 great stars of the Meiji era: Dan = Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX and Kiku = Onoe Kikugor˘ V [more details]. Another interesting feature of these May Grand Kabuki performances will be the revival of Fukuchi ďchi's drama "Nue Taiji", which was staged for the last time more than 54 years ago, in January 1962 at the Kabukiza.

    The programs for the June 2016 Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza have been published [more details]. The sanbusei tripartite system, which is usually used only in August, will be used in June! The classic "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura" will be staged in 3 parts and Ichikawa Ukon's son Takeda Takeru will make his first stage appearance (omemie) in the role of Rokudai. Each part of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura" will be dedicated to one hero of this drama: Taira no Tomomori in the first part, Igami no Gonta in the second part and Tadanobu in the third part. In the first part, Masuyama Kinpachi I's Tokiwazu-based drama "Hototogisu Hana Aru Sato" will be revived. This dance-drama is commonly called "Tadanobu" and it will star Nakamura Baigyoku and Nakamura Kaishun in the roles of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and the shiraby˘shi Miyoshino.

  • Ikari Tomomori: the roles of Tomomori, Suke-no-Tsubone and Minamoto no Yoshitsune will be played by Ichikawa Somegor˘, Ichikawa Ennosuke and Onoe Matsuya.
  • Igami no Gonta: the roles of Gonta, Kokingo, Osato and Yasuke (in reality Taira no Koremori) will be played by Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Onoe Matsuya, Ichikawa Ennosuke and Ichikawa Somegor˘.
  • Kitsune Tadanobu: the role of Tadanobu (in reality the fox Genkur˘) will be played by Ichikawa Ennosuke. The role of Shizuka Gozen will be played by Ichikawa Somegor˘ in "Michiyuki Hatsune no Tabi" and Ichikawa Emiya in "Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata". The role of Minamoto no Yoshitsune will be played by Ichikawa Monnosuke. This program will end with a spectacular chűnori, which is a trademark of the Omodakaya guild.
  • Nakamura Kankur˘ VI's two sons, his elder son Namino Naoya and his younger son Namino Noriyuki, will make their debut on stage (hatsubutai) in February 2017 at the Kabukiza. They will receive the respective names of Nakamura Kantar˘ III and Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘ II. The first holder of the name Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘ was Nakamura Kanzabur˘ III, who held it between 1673 and 1674.

    The programs for the Grand Kabuki Tours in the Eastern and Central provinces in July 2016 have been published!

  • The troupe in the eastern provinces will be led by Ichikawa Somegor˘ [more details].
  • The troupe in the central provinces will be led by Nakamura Tokiz˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku [more details].
  • Ichikawa Ebiz˘ performed the 26th of March 2016 in Okinawa within the precincts of the Nakagusuku Castle. He performed the longevity dance of Musashib˘ Benkei, a famous section from the dance-drama "Kanjinch˘", and the leading role of "Renjishi". Ichikawa Kudanji performed the role of Soga Gor˘ Tokimune in "Ame no Gor˘" [more details].

    Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ fell ill (stomach ulcer) before the opening day of the March Grand Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza. He was replaced on the spot by his son Onoe Kikunosuke to play the role of Miuranosuke in "Kamakura Sandaiki" up to the 11th of March. He was back on stage the 12th of March.

    Ichikawa Ennosuke, Nakamura Kazutar˘ and Nakamura Umemaru will perform in the dance-drama "Ryűsei" within a special one-time only program, which will be staged in Kanazawa the 11th of May 2016 at the Ishikawa Ongakud˘ and will be entitled Iyo no Ai ~ Sono Yukue (literally "Different World of Love ~ The whereabouts") [more details].

    The drama "GOEMON-Ishikawa Goemon" (In Japanese), which was premiered in October 2014 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza [more details], will be staged in October 2016 in T˘ky˘ at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘, starring Kataoka Ainosuke in the role of Ishikawa Goemon [more details]. This drama is advertised by the Sh˘chiku Company as being ôa novel Kabuki dance which has taken in Flamencoö.

    Ichikawa Somegor˘ received the 19th of March 2016 at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ the Incentive Award (Sh˘reish˘) of the 32nd Asakusa Artistic Awards (Asakusa Gein˘ Sh˘) [pictures and more details in Japanese].

    Nakamura Hashinosuke will perform in May 2016 at the Meijiza in the non-Kabuki drama "On'yado Kawasemi", which is based on Hiraiwa Yumie's Edo period historical detective-story series "On'yado Kawasemi".

    Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Nakamura Karoku are two of the 9 award-winners of the 72nd Japan Art Academy Awards (Nihon Geijutsuin Sh˘) for the year 2015.

    Nakamura Shid˘ was a tobigashira for real for a day the 29th of February 2016. He symbolically became the head of the firehouse near the National Theatre and supervised the exercises [pictures and more details in Japanese].

    Nakamura Hashinosuke has started to work as a "navigator" on a cultural TV program for NHK-BS, a Satellite channel of the National TV network NHK, which will be entitled Ky˘to Burari Rekishi Tanb˘ (literally "Wandering off in Ky˘to - History Inquiry"). The first episode of this monthly series will be aired the 12th of April 2016. In each episode, Nakamura Hashinosuke will visit a temple, a shrine or a traditional craft artisan.

    The maintenance construction of Dankazura, the famous approach to the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura, was completed in March 2016. The renovation works started in November 2014 and a ceremony to celebrate this completion took place on the 30th of March 2016. There was procession led by Shint˘ priests and Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon from the second torii up to the lower worship hall of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine. Then, after the procession, Nakamura Kichiemon performed an auspicious celebration dance on a stage at the Lower Worship Hall.

    A new section in the Kabuki on the Web website has just opened: a Kabuki plays guide in English. 10 pages dedicated to dramas like "Jusshuk˘", "Kinkakuji" or "Narukami" have been put online:

    29 February
    2016

    The Minamiza has temporarily closed. An investigation is going on in order to determine whether or not the construction for anti-earthquake reinforcement of the theater is needed. Ky˘to's most famous theater will stay close for a while.

    There was a mamemaki ceremony for setsubun in ďsaka at Tsűtenkaku the 1st of February 2016 with the actor Nakamura Shibajaku [more details in Japanese and pictures].

    The two programs for the April Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza in April 2016 have been published [more details]. A newly-created Kabuki drama will be staged for the first time. It is entitled "Gens˘shin Kűkai" and it is about the stay in China of the priest Kűkai. This drama will be staged to celebrate the 1200 anniversary of the acceptation by the emperor of Japan in 816 of the request made by Kűkai to build K˘yasan. The role of Kűkai will be played by Ichikawa Somegor˘. His father Matsumoto K˘shir˘ will play the role of the Tang Emperor. Nakamura Jakuemon will play the role of Y˘kihi. The original story was written by the Japanese SF master Yumemakura Baku. Others highlights in April will be:

  • Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon and his son Kataoka Takatar˘ playing the roles of Rokusuke and Osono in "Keya-mura".
  • Matsumoto K˘shir˘ playing the role of the anma Tomi-no-Ichi, later Shiranui Kengy˘ II in Uno Nobuo's drama "Okitsu Nami Yami no Shiranui".
  • Nakamura Jakuemon V will play the roles of Sagami and Princess Yaegaki in "Kumagai Jin'ya" and "Jusshuk˘" to celebrate his shűmei in June 2016 in Fukuoka at the Hakataza [more details].

    There was a mamemaki ceremony for setsubun the 3rd of February 2016 at the Kabukiza. For the first time and for this ceremony only, Onoe Kikugor˘'s grandsons Kazufumi and Mahoro appeared on stage. Kazufumi is the son of Onoe Kikunosuke and also the grandson of Nakamura Kichiemon. Mahoro is the son of Onoe Kikugor˘'s daughter Terajima Shinobu [more details].

    The programs for the June 2016 and July 2016 educational Kabuki programs at the National Theatre, called Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitu ("Kabuki appreciation class") have been published. In June 2016, "Sakanaya S˘gor˘" will be staged with Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Mantar˘ and Nakamura Muneo [more details]. In July 2016, "Sanjűsangend˘ Munagi no Yurai" will be staged with Nakamura Kaishun and Band˘ Yajűr˘ [more details].

    The 15th edition of the original Cocoon Kabuki will happen in June 2016 at the Theatre Cocoon [more details]. These performances recreate the atmosphere of the Edo koshibai and brings the actors closer to the audience. The play "Yotsuya Kaidan" will be revised by the playwright Kushida Kazuyoshi and this new production will be based on the kitaban version, which was staged in March 2006/April 2006 in the same theater and included the rarely-staged act IV, with its 2 scenes "the Misumi house in Fukagawa" and "the refuge of the Oshioda family" [more details].

    A special program starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and mixing Kabuki, and Opera will be staged in April 2016 at the Ky˘to Gekij˘. The heir of the Naritaya guild will perform in a special version of "Genji Monogatari", along with the actors Katayama Kur˘emon X and Kanze Yoshimasa and the Opera Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. The script for this version of "Genji Monogatari" will focus on the story from Oborozukiyo to Suma/Akashi [more details].

    There was a mamemaki ceremony and a street parade for setsubun in Fukuoka the 3rd of February 2016 with the actors Nakamura Shid˘ and Nakamura Kotar˘ performing at the Hakataza in February 2016. The mamemaki ceremony happened in the precincts of the Kushida Shrine [more details in Japanese and pictures].

    Onoe Matsuya was the award-winner of the Theater "New Face" Prize (Engeki Shinjin Sh˘) of the 37th Matsuo Artistic Awards (Matsuo Gein˘ Sh˘). He received his prize the 29th of March 2016 at the ANA Intercontinental Hotel in T˘ky˘.

    Nakamura T˘z˘'s disciple Nakamura Toshijir˘, Nakamura Jakuemon IV's disciple Nakamura Ky˘zabur˘ and Nakamura Kaishun's disciple Nakamura Harunosuke celebrated their success at the nadai exam in January 2016 in T˘ky˘ at the Kabukiza. They passed successfully the nadai exam in September 2014. Nakamura Toshijir˘ and Nakamura Ky˘zabur˘ received respectively the names of Nakamura T˘zabur˘ and ďtani Akisabur˘. ďtani Akisabur˘ became a disciple of ďtani Tomoemon.

    Both Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and the production of the SűpÔ Kabuki Sekando drama "ONE PIECE" received the 8th of February 2016 an award for the 2015 Art Festival of Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, which happened from the 2nd of October 2015 to the 10th of November 2015. 52 events were part of this important festival. Matsumoto K˘shir˘ was award a prize in the stage art section for his performance in October 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the Imperial Theater in the Japanese version of the musical "Man of La Mancha".

    Nakamura Kash˘'s first child, a son, was born the 26th of February 2016.

    Nakamura Takanosuke, Nakamura Tamatar˘ and Nakamura Umemaru will perform, along with the dance masters Fujima Kanjűr˘ VIII and Onoe Kikunoj˘ III, at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre from the 25th to the 27th of March 2016 in a dance program which is entitled "SUGATA". The program is made up of a newly-created which is entitled "Sinsetsu Saiyűki ~ Chohakkai to Sagoj˘". This dance is related to the world of the Chinese novel "Journey to the West" (Saiyűki). The two main characters will be Chohakkai (Zhu Bajie) and Sagoj˘ (Sha Wujing).

    31 January
    2016

    Obituary: the actor Nakamura Umenosuke IV, 2nd generation leader of the Zenshinza troupe, passed away the 18th of January 2016, victim of a pneumonia. The troupe funeral service will be held the 3rd of March 2016 at T˘ky˘'s Aoyama Cemetery. The chief mourner will be his son Nakamura Baijaku II.

    Ichikawa Somegor˘ will perform in Las Vegas in May 2016, from the 3rd to the 7th, at the MGM Grand David Copperfield Theater. The show will be the "Panasonic presents Wonder KABUKI Spectacle at MGM Grand" and the newly-created drama, which will be staged, will be entitled "SHI-SHI-ď The Adventures of the Mythical Lion". We can assume it will be based on the story within the traditional shishimono. Ichikawa Somegor˘ will lead the troupe, sharing the stage with Nakamura Karoku, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Nakamura Kash˘, ďtani Hirotar˘, Nakamura Yonekichi and Nakamura Hayato [more details].

    Three Living National Treasures will share the stage with the Nakamura Jakuemon V to celebrate his shűmei in June 2016 in Fukuoka at the Hakataza : Sakata T˘jűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘ and Kataoka Nizaemon [playbill].

    The Zenshinza troupe will celebrate its 85th anniversary in May 2016 at the National Theatre by producing Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan" [more details].

    Nakamura Senjaku and Ichikawa Chűsha took part in a parade in ďsaka the 9th of January 2016, which was part of the T˘ka Ebisu Festival at the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, which is located in the Naniwa Ward of ďsaka. The T˘ka Ebisu Festival was held from the 9th to the 11th of January 2016. T˘ka meaning the 10th day in Japanese, this festival is usually held around the 10th of January and it is extremely popular in ďsaka. During this festival sacred bamboo branches are sold to business people. The branches, known as fukusasa, are decorated with lucky symbols. The two actors were paraded through shopping and entertainment districts on special palanquins called h˘e kago, surrounded by people singing a simple catchy folk song [more details in Japanese and pictures].

    Nakamura Shibajaku, ďtani Tomoemon, ďtani Hirotar˘ and ďtani Hiromatsu paraded the 27th of January 2016 in Asakusa ahead of the coming shűmei of Nakamura Jakuemon V in March 2016 at the Kabukiza [more details in Japanese and pictures].

    Imai Toyoshige and Yokouchi Kensuke received the 25th of January 2016 the 44th ďtani Takejir˘ Award (ďtani Takejir˘ Sh˘). The former was award this prize for the writing of the script of "Arashi no Yoru ni", which was staged in September 2015 at the Minamiza; The latter for the writing of the script of "ONE PIECE" (premiered in October 2015 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘).

    There will be at the 4F of the Kabukiza tower from the 2nd of February to the 27th of March 2016 an exhibition of pictures related to the coming shűmei of Nakamura Jakuemon V [more details in Japanese].

    The programs for the April Young Actors Kabuki performances at the Meijiza in April 2016 have been published [more details]. The rarely-staged matsubamemono "Suehirogari" will be revived. There are only 2 records in T˘ky˘: in December 1909 at the T˘ky˘ Gekij˘ with Ichikawa Ennosuke I and Onoe Baik˘ VI in the roles of Tar˘kaja and his master. In August 1992 at the National Theatre with Ichikawa Danz˘ and Nakamura Tomotar˘ in the roles of Tar˘kaja and his master. In April 2016, the role of Tar˘kaja will be played by Nakamura Kankur˘. There will be lots of hatsuyaku for the 3 young stars:

  • Nakamura Shichinosuke will play for the first time the prestigious role of Kuzu-no-Ha in the eponymous drama "Kuzu-no-Ha".
  • Onoe Kikunosuke and Nakamura Shichinosuke will play for the first time the roles of Kawachiya Yohŕ and Okichi in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's drama "Abura no Jigoku".
  • Nakamura Kankur˘ and Onoe Kikunosuke will also play for the first time the roles of Eijir˘ and Osuzu in "Ukare Shinjű", a drama which is closely associated to late Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVIII.
  • Nakamura Shichinosuke and Onoe Kikunosuke will also play for the first time the roles of the courtesan Matsuyama and Wankyű in "Ninin Wankyű". Onoe Kikunosuke had the opportunity to perform twice in the past the role of Matsuyama in this beautiful dance.
  • They are cute or creepy. They prance around street fairs, sporting events, community gatherings and tourist destinations. They reprensent prefectures, cities, museums, schools, institutions ... even militaries forces or prisons. If you go to Japan, you are very likely to meet a few of them. I am talking about the yuru-kyara, the mascots, which have invaded Japan during the 2010s and are still on the rise. The yuru-kyara was made up of two real words, yurui meaning loose or relaxed, and kyara, a word coming from English and meaning character. The mascots are everywhere ... and we would like to report the "birth" of Konpy-kun, the mascot symbolizing the Konpira Kabuki, which is produced every April at the Kanamaruza. Is Konpy-kun cute or creepy ? Check on the kabuki-bito.jp website ! It was spotted advertising for the April performances the 25th of January in ďsaka and the 26th of January in T˘ky˘.

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ met Detective Conan, the famous hero of the Anime series Meitantei Konan (Detective Conan), based on the eponymous Manga created by Aoyama G˘sh˘. The story in 2 episodes (804th and 805th) was about a murder case at the Kabukiza. As part of his investigations, Detective Conan met Ichikawa Ebiz˘, a character voiced by ... the real Ichikawa Ebiz˘. Episode 804 was aired the 9th of January 2016. Episode 805 was aired the 16th of January 2016. These two episodes were created to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Detective Conan Anime. They were entitled "Konan to Ebiz˘ Kabuki Jűhachiban Misuterţ", "Conan and Ebiz˘'s Kabuki Jűhachiban Mystery" [more details | picture 1 | picture 2].

    Four Kabuki films in high definition, belonging to the Shinema Kabuki ("Cinema Kabuki") series, will be screened in Toronto with English subtitles in February 2016 [more details]. This event will be sponsored by The Japan Foundation, Toronto:

    Day Drama
    Saturday, February 27 2009 Kagami Jishi [more details]
    Saturday, February 27 2014 Sannin Kichisa [more details]
    Sunday, February 28 2010 Kumagai Jin'ya [more details]
    Sunday, February 28 2010 Kagotsurube [more details]

    3 talks (kabuki yawa in Japanese, night talk about Kabuki) for Nakamura Shibajaku at the Kabukiza Gallery (5th floor of the Kabukiza building), every evening at 18:30 from the 8th to the 10th of February. The admission fee will be 3,000 JPY. There will be also at the same place the 27th of February at 19:00 another kabuki yawa in Japanese, night talk about Kabuki, with Nakamura Ky˘z˘, Nakamura Ky˘tae and Nakamura Ky˘shi. The subject will be the secrets of the Ky˘ya guild. Same admission fee as Nakamura Shibajaku's talks.

    Members of the Edo Firefighting Memorial Association performed kiyari ritual dances within the Kabukiza the 6th of January 2016 [more details in Japanese].

    Pictures for the Opening Days at the National Theatre of Kawatake Mokuami's drama "Koharunagi Okitsu Shiranami" in January 2016:

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