MAY 2015

7 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Meijiza, Heisei Nakamuraza), 1 show in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 1 show in Ky˘to (Minamiza) and 1 tour (New Green Leaves)!

  • Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Baigyoku, Ichikawa Sadanji and Onoe Sh˘roku perform at the Kabukiza!
  • Ichikawa Ennosuke, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Chűsha and Ichikawa Ukon perform at the Meijiza!
  • Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Nakamura Shid˘ perform at the Heisei Nakamuraza!
  • The Zenshinza troupe performs at the National Theatre!
  • Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke are on tour!
  • Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ performs at the Sh˘chikuza!
  • Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 May 2015 (Dankikusai Gogatsu ďkabuki)
    Dankikusai May Grand Kabuki

    Sesshű Gapp˘-ga-Tsuji (Gapp˘ Anshitsu)

    Ten'ichib˘ ďoka Seidan


    Keian Taiheiki (Marubashi Chűya)


    Kami no Megumi Wag˘ no Torikumi
    (Megumi no Kenka)


    Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Baigyoku, Ichikawa Sadanji, Onoe Sh˘roku, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Matagor˘, Ichimura Kakitsu, Ichikawa Unosuke, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘, Band˘ Shűch˘, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Band˘ Kametoshi, Sawamura Yoshijir˘, Sawamura S˘nosuke, Ichikawa Kudanji, Arashi Kitsusabur˘, Kataoka Matsunosuke, Ichimura Kitsutar˘, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Kash˘, Band˘ Minosuke, Nakamura Mantar˘, Ichimura Takematsu, ďtani Hirotar˘, ďtani Hiromatsu, Nakamura Yonekichi, Nakamura Takanosuke, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Ichikawa Otora, Onoe Ukon


    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.

  • Gapp˘ Anshitsu: frequently performed in Kabuki, this play shows the scandalous theme of a mother's passion for her son. Tamate Gozen (Onoe Kikunosuke) has become the second wife of a great lord, but has fallen in love with one of her stepsons, Takayasu Shuntokumaru (Nakamura Baishi). He has fled the mansion and now, disfigured by a strange illness, has taken refuge in the house of Tamate Gozen's parents. Tamate Gozen appears declaring her love and, enraged, her father Gapp˘ (Nakamura Karoku) stabs her. On the point of death, Tamate Gozen reveals that this was the only way that she could save the lives of her stepsons.
  • Ten'ichib˘: tales of wise magistrates are common in Asia and if China has Judge Dee, Japan has ďoka, Lord of Echizen. Became popular as k˘dan storytelling and have long been a staple of television. In the late 19th century, the success of these stories as k˘dan inspired Kabuki versions, including this one, written by Kawatake Mokuami. In remote province of Kishű, there is an old wet nurse. Her daughter fell in love with the Sh˘gun Yoshimune and bore his child. The mother and child soon died, but the old wet nurse has a sword and document signed by the Sh˘gun. An evil priest (Onoe Kikunosuke) learns her secret, kills her and takes the sword and document. He goes to Edo and poses as the son of Yoshimune under the name Ten'ichib˘. He gathers an army of out of work samurai and collects money from supporters, all eager for advantage when Ten'ichib˘ becomes Sh˘gun. Ten'ichib˘'s plot seems unstoppable until he meets the wise magistrate ďoka (Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘), Lord of Echizen. Featuring also Nakamura Tokiz˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku.
  • Marubashi Chűya: this is a classic play by Kawatake Mokuami written in the Meiji Period, when Kabuki could show historical events. This is the story of Marubashi Chűya (Onoe Sh˘roku), who plotted to overthrow the Edo government. He approaches Edo Castle pretending to be drunk, but has actually come to measure the depth of the moat. Unfortunately, he is observed by Izu-no-Kami (Onoe Kikunosuke), one of the top officials of the shogunate. Later, Chűya has a dispute with his wife and his wife's father, that eventually leads to the failure of his revolt.
  • Jayanagi: an extremely rare play from the original Kabuki Jűhachiban. High on holy Mt. K˘ya, there is a willow tree that attracts the vengeful spirits of jealous women which possesses a passing traveler. Starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the roles of Suketar˘ of Tanba Province (in reality the spirit of the willow tree) and the powerful warrior Kong˘maru in the oshimodoshi grand finale. Featuring also Onoe Sh˘roku in the role of the chief priest J˘ken.
  • 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 Baigyoku, Onoe Kikunosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ and Nakamura Matagor˘.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Meijiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 May 2015 (Gogatsu Hanagata Kabuki)
    May Young Actors Kabuki


    Otoko no Hanamichi


    Anma to Dorob˘

    Waki Noboru Mizu-ni Koi Taki (Koi Tsukami)


    Ichikawa Ennosuke, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Chűsha, Ichikawa Ukon, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Nakamura Kikaku, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Emiya, Nakamura Kikaku, Ichikawa Omez˘, Ichikawa Juen, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Ichikawa K˘tar˘


    A Kabuki program at the Meijiza with Ichikawa Ennosuke as zagashira.

  • Ya-no-Ne: like a picture come to life, this play combines the most exaggerated costumes and movements with leisurely humor. The aragoto hero Soga no Gor˘ is sharpening a giant arrow and sleeping in wishes of good fortune for the New Year when he sees his brother Jűr˘ in a dream asking him to come and rescue him. The two Soga brothers are part of one of the most popular vendetta stories in Kabuki, suffering for eighteen years before being able to avenge the death of their father. In this play, when Gor˘ finds out that his brother is in trouble, he jumps on the horse of a passing daikon vendor and, brandishing a giant daikon as a whip prepares to rush to his brother's side. Starring Ichikawa Ukon and Ichikawa Emiya as Gor˘ and Jűr˘.
  • Otoko no Hanamichi: this is a stage version of a popular movie. It is about the famous Kabuki actor, Kagaya Utaemon (Ichikawa Ennosuke). When he is about to lose his eyesight, he is saved when he happens to meet a doctor (Ichikawa Chűsha) who knows Western medicine at his inn. The two become fast friends. Several years later, when Utaemon is now the top star of the Kabuki theater, he gets an urgent summons from the doctor and the actor is faced with the dilemma of whether he should go to his friend and benefactor, even if it means missing his all important appearance on stage. Featuring also Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Ukon, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘, Nakamura Kikaku and Ichikawa Emiya.
  • Anma to Dorob˘:
    (The Blind Masseur and the Thief)
    This modern play by Murakami Genz˘ shows a thief (Ichikawa Ennosuke) who tries to rob a blind masseur (Ichikawa Chűsha) of his savings, thinking that he would be an easy target. But the masseur is more than a match for him and before the thief knows what has happened, the two are drinking together like old friends and the masseur begins to try to persuade him to give up his life of crime.
  • Koi Tsukami: Tawara no T˘ta Hidesato fights against a giant centipede at Mt. Mikami in ďmi Province. The guardian deity of Lake Biwa appears and gives him a sacred sword. T˘ta slays the centipede with the sword. In Lake Biwa the Golden Carp, Carps King's son, is about to turn into a dragon but it becomes cirrupt by the poisonous blood of the slain centipede flown into the lake. The Golden Carp loses its hope to turn into a dragon. The Carps King resents that and vows to curse the Tawara clan eternally. Years have passed and the sacred sword is now the family heirloom of the Tsuri clan, whose ancestors were from the Tawara clan. The yakko Setahei, at the service of the Tsuri clan, finds out that some evil retainers are plotting to take over the clan. He struggles to prevent it. Princess Kozakura of the Tsuri clan longs for Takimado Shiganosuke, a page whom she met in the Kiyomizu Temple. As they meet secretly at the Tsuri mansion, an envoy of the chief advisor to the emperor arrives. The sacred sword is presented to him. The magic of this sword results in the projection of the shadows of Princess Kozakura and a giant carp are projected on a paper sliding door. It means that Shiganosuke is in fact the incarnation of the spirit of a carp of Lake Biwa and it plots to destroy the Tsuri clan, as a revenge over the Tawara clan. The spirit of the carp is shot by an arrow. The archer is none other than the real Shiganosuke, who chases it up to Lake Biwa where he fights in real water (honmizu) with it under heavy rain, until at last he puts an end to its life. This scene is called koi tsukami and it is the spectacular highlight of this Kabuki drama, which is staged as a t˘shi ky˘gen. During the Edo period, it was developped by the Onoe clan, from Onoe Kikugor˘ I to Onoe Kikugor˘ III through Onoe Sh˘roku I. In modern times, it became the trademark of the Ichikawa Udanji line. Starring Kataoka Ainosuke in 6 roles (including the spirit of a giant carp)! Featuring Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the role of Princess Kozakura. Featuring also Kataoka Hidetar˘, Ichikawa Chűsha, Nakamura Kikaku, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘ and Ichikawa Ukon.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Heisei Nakamuraza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 April ~ 3 May 2015 (Y˘shun ďkabuki)
    Full Spring Merriness Grand Kabuki

    Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki (Sum˘ba)


    Shin Sarayashiki Tsuki no Amagasa
    (Sakanaya S˘gor˘)


    Imoseyama Onna Teikin
    (Mikasayama Goten)


    Kiwametsuki Banzui Ch˘bŕ


    Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Nakamura Kotar˘, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Nakamura Kunio, Nakamura Muneo, Nakamura Yoshio, Namino Naoya


    The Heisei Nakamuraza is back next year in T˘ky˘ in Asakusa. There was no Heisei Nakamuraza in T˘ky˘ for 3 years, following the sudden death of its creator Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVIII. The new zagashira is Nakamura Kankur˘.

  • Sum˘ba: "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘" means "two butterflies" and also comes from the fact that two sum˘ wrestlers who play important roles in the full length play have names beginning with "ch˘": Ch˘kichi and Ch˘gor˘. In order to help his master Yamazakiya Yogor˘ (Nakamura Shid˘) buy out the contract of the beautiful Azuma (Band˘ Shingo), the senior wrestler Nuregami Ch˘gor˘ throws a match, letting the younger wrestler Hanaregoma Ch˘kichi win, hoping to get his help. But Ch˘kichi loses his temper and the two end up competing in a test of pride. Starring popular actor Band˘ Yajűr˘ as Ch˘gor˘ and Nakamura Shid˘ as Ch˘kichi.
  • 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 Nakamura Hashinosuke in the role of Benkei, with Nakamura Shichinosuke and Nakamura Kankur˘ as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Sakanaya S˘gor˘: S˘gor˘ (Nakamura Kankur˘), a fish seller, has taken a vow to not drink, but when he learns about his sister's unjust murder at the hands of a daimy˘ lord, a death that they were told was execution for her wrongdoing, he starts to drink again. Drunk, he storms into the lord's mansion to seek an apology. This play by Meiji playwright Kawatake Mokuami is known for its realistic portrayal of members of the common class during the Edo period and highlights their fierce pride and frustration at the privileges of the dominant samurai class. Featuring also Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Shid˘ and Band˘ Yajűr˘.
  • Mikasayama Goten: a fantastic Kabuki period play showing intrigues in the imperial court in the earliest days of Japan. The dictator Soga no Iruka has set up his own court and now seeks to destroy his opponent Kamatari. A mysterious fisherman named Fukashichi (Nakamura Shid˘) comes as a messenger from Kamatari, claiming to bring a message of surrender. Meanwhile, Iruka's younger sister, Princess Tachibana (Nakamura Kotar˘) has fallen in love with a handsome young man named Motome (Nakamura Hashinosuke). But Motome is actually the son of Kamatari and says that he will only grant her love if she will cut off Iruka's head. Moreover, a country girl named Omiwa (Nakamura Shichinosuke) has also followed Motome. Omiwa's blood and the work of all these people combined are what is necessary to finally defeat the magical powers of the evil Iruka.
  • Takatsuki: in this relatively modern dance-comedy adapted from the style of classical Ky˘gen farces, the servant Jir˘kaja (Nakamura Kankur˘) is ordered by his lord (Kataoka Kamez˘) to buy a takatsuki, which is a kind of ceremonial sake cup on a stand. Jir˘kaja does not understand his lord's orders and is persuaded by a fast-talking geta clog salesman (Nakamura Kunio) to buy a pair of clogs instead, thinking that this is the stand for which he was sent. After drinking a good amount of sake, he brings his purchase to the lord and responds to the lord's anger with a dance on the clogs, a virtuoso routine inspired by tap dancing, showing off the dancing skills of Nakamura Kankur˘.
  • Banzui Ch˘bŕ: in the early Edo period, gallant men like Banzuiin Ch˘bŕ led the commoners. But this incurred the wrath of members of the samurai class, who were theoretically in control. This play begins with a recreation of Kabuki in its earliest days, then a fight breaks out which is settled by Ch˘bŕ (Nakamura Hashinosuke). But this frustrates the ambitions of the samurai Mizuno (Band˘ Yajűr˘) who invites Ch˘bŕ to visit. All of Ch˘bŕ's men tell him not to go because it is a trap, but Ch˘bŕ decides to meet his end and bids farewell to his wife (Nakamura Shichinosuke) and son. Finally, Ch˘bŕ is killed when he is defenseless in the bath.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 9 ~ 20 May 2015 (Zenshinza Gogatsu K˘en)
    Zenshinza May Performances

    Banch˘ Sarayashiki

    Ninj˘ Banashi Bunshichi Mottoi


    Nakamura Umenosuke, Arashi Keishi, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Arashi Yoshisabur˘, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘


    The usual Zenshinza May program at the National Theatre!

  • Banch˘ Sarayashiki: the story of Okiku, who became a ghost after breaking one of a precious set of plates and being killed in punishment by a quick-tempered lord, is one of the most famous in Japanese tradition. But this is a modern play, which transforms the ghost story into a portrait of the interaction of contrasting and incompatable personalities. The samurai lord Aoyama Harima (Arashi Yoshisabur˘) is passionate and quick to fight and is in the middle of a fight when he is stopped by his aunt. She has arranged a marriage for him and Harima is unable to admit that the reason he will not marry is because he is deeply in love with Okiku (the actress Imamura Ayami), a lady-in-waiting in his household. As strong as Harima is, his aunt's will is much stronger. But this makes Okiku wonder about the strength of Harima's love for her and she tests him by breaking one of a set of heirloom plates. When she tests Harima's feelings, this seals her fate and sets the tragedy of the play in motion. Featuring also Arashi Keishi in the role of Hanaregoma Shirobŕ.
  • Bunshichi Mottoi: Ch˘bŕ spends his days and nights gambling, but is finally made aware of his family's problems when his daughter takes a job in the pleasure quarters. Having received the money for her contract, he shows his good side to save a young man on the edge of suicide after losing a large sum of money, but nobody believes Ch˘bŕ, thinking that he has gambled the money away. The performance stars Fujikawa Yanosuke, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ and Tadamura Shin'ya in the roles of Ch˘bŕ, Ch˘bŕ's wife Okane and Bunshichi. Featuring also Nakamura Umenosuke and Arashi Keishi.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 8 ~ 14 May 2015 (Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Kabuki Appreciation Class

    Minamiza to Kabuki

    Iro Moy˘ Chotto Karimame (Kasane)


    Kamimura Kichiya, Nakamura Matsue


    23rd edition of a pedagogical show in Ky˘to combining explanation for beginners (done by the professional storyteller Katsura Kujaku) and the dance-drama "Iro Moy˘ Chotto Karimame".

  • Kasane: one can never escape past evils. Yoemon is fleeing to the countryside, but Kasane, the woman he abandoned, refuses to let him go. She catches up with him at a lonely river bank. A skull stabbed with a scythe appears and Kasane is possessed by its spirit, actually the spirit of her dead father, and her face suddenly becomes disfigured. She pours out her feelings of jealousy and resentment and Yoemon kills Kasane, but even after her death, he cannot escape her vengeful spirit. Starring Kamimura Kichiya as Kasane and Nakamura Matsue as Yoemon.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    New Green Leaves Tour
    Dates 14 ~ 31 May 2015 (Shinroku Tokubetsu K˘en)
    New Green Leaves Special Performances


    Onna Kurumabiki



    Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Tsurumatsu


    A special and short tour in 12 cities led by the two heirs of the Nakamuraya guild and their disciples.

  • Goaisatsu: a special greetings (goaisatsu) stage speech made by Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke.
  • Onna Kurumabiki: a usual practice was celebrated female impersonators to have famous male roles rewritten for them. Numerous titles of already popular plays to which the character onna (ôwomanö) was added appeared in the Kabuki repertory over the centuries, such as "Onna Narukami" ("Female Narukami") or "Onna Shibaraku" ("Female Shibaraku"). "Onna Kurumabiki" is a female parodic dance based on "Kurumabiki". The three brothers Matsu˘maru, Ume˘maru and Sakuramaru are replaced by their wives Chiyo, Haru and Yae. Featuring disciples of the Nakamuraya guild.
  • Adayume:
    (A False Dream)
    Nakamura Kankur˘ plays a badger in love with the beautiful courtesan Miyuki (Nakamura Shichinosuke) in the Shimabara pleasure quarters in Ky˘to. In order to woo her, the badger transforms into the dance teacher (Band˘ Shingo) that Miyuki loves, in a role originally created for Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke grandfather Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVII.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 3 ~ 26 May 2015 (Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Tokubetsu K˘en)
    Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Special Performances



    Band˘ Tamasabur˘


    Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and the Kod˘ taiko drummers revive "Amaterasu", which was staged for the first time in May 2006 at the Minamiza [more details].

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