MAY 2021
Japan's Central Government has declared a third state of emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with new restrictions imposed in several areas: T˘ky˘ Metropolis, ďsaka Prefecture, Ky˘to Prefecture and Hy˘go Prefecture. As a consequence, several Kabuki programs will have to begin the 12th or the 13th of May 2021

6 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Theatre Cocoon, Meijiza)!

  • Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Kaishun, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Ennosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Sadanji and Nakamura Matagor˘ perform at the Kabukiza!
  • The Zenshinza troupe performs at the National Theatre!
  • Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Onoe Matsuya and Kataoka Kamez˘ perform at the Theatre Cocoon!
  • Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Udanji, Ichikawa Sai'nyű, Kataoka Ichiz˘ and Nakamura Kotar˘ perform at the Meijiza!
  • Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 12 ~ 28 May 2021
    Gogatsu ďkabuki
    May Grand Kabuki
    1st program

    Sannin Kichisa Tomoe no Shiranami
    (ďkawabata K˘shinzuka)


    2nd program

    Kanadehon Chűshingura

  • Michiyuki Tabiji no Hanamuko
  • Kanpei Harakiri
  • 3rd program

    Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘ (Kosui Gozabune)

    Shunky˘ Kagami Jishi


    Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Kaishun, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Ennosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Matagor˘, Band˘ Minosuke, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Baishi, Onoe Ukon, Band˘ Kamez˘, Nakamura Mantar˘, Onoe Ushinosuke, Band˘ Kamesabur˘


    No great yearly Dankiku festival this year for the Naritaya and Otowaya guilds, which usually commemorates in May 2 great stars of the Meiji era: Dan = Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX and Kiku = Onoe Kikugor˘ V. The Otowaya guild is present with 3 generations of actors but not the Naritaya guild. The performances from the 3rd to the 11th of may 2021 are cancelled because of the third state of emergency declared by Japan's central government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 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 Onoe Ukon as Oj˘ Kichisa, Band˘ Minosuke as Osh˘ Kichisa and Nakamura Hayato as Ob˘ Kichisa.
  • Tsuchi-gumo: a dance play adapted from the classical theatre. The samurai Lord Minamoto Raik˘ is famous in legend for ridding Ky˘to of demons. While Raik˘ is confined to bed with illness, a priest (Onoe Sh˘roku) from a prominent temple comes to pray for his health. In fact, the priest is actually the spirit of the earth spider which has caused Raik˘'s illness in the first place and hopes to destroy him. The spider's plan to kill Raik˘ is defeated by his retainers (the famous shitenn˘) in an exciting fight. Featuring Ichikawa Ennosuke as Raik˘.
  • Michiyuki Tabiji no Hanamuko: here are few plays more popular in Kabuki than "Kanadehon Chűshingura" ('The Treasury of Loyal Retainers'). This is based on a true incident in which a feudal lord attacked another in the Sh˘gun's palace and was immediately sentenced to commit ritual suicide and his domain was confiscated. In this dance, after the death of his lord, the retainer Kanpei (Nakamura Kinnosuke) and his lover, the lady-in-waiting Okaru (Nakamura Baishi) flee to Okaru's home, a farmer's house in the country. Kanpei feels responsible for the calamity which befell his lord because at the crucial time he was having a romantic tryst and was not at his master's side. He tries to commit suicide but Okaru stops him and convinces him that they should go to her home as husband and wife and wait for the right moment for him to apologize.
  • Kanpei Harakiri: the retainer Kanpei (Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘) lives a poor life with Okaru at her parents' rural home. He desperately wants to take part in the vendetta against his lord's enemy, but must come up with the money necessary to finance his part in it. Secretly, Okaru (Nakamura Tokiz˘) and her family decide that the only way to raise the money is to sell her to the pleasure quarters. On a lonely highway, while Okaru's father is on his way home from sealing the deal a thief named Sadakur˘ kills him and steals the money. In a bizarre twist of events, however, Kanpei then kills the robber accidentally while out hunting and he finds the money. Later, the fabric of the wallet seems to prove that Kanpei has murdered his father-in-law. Kanpei takes responsibility for both the death of his father-in-law and also for being absent when his lord needed him, and commits ritual suicide. Featuring also Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Kaishun and Nakamura Matagor˘.
  • Hachijin: this is a jidaimono period piece that dramatizes true historical events. Kat˘ Kiyomasa (1562~1611) was one of the fiercest generals under Toyotomi Hideyoshi and continued to defend the family and Hideyoshiĺs young heir Hideyori even after the world came to be ruled by crafty Tokugawa Ieyasu, who searched for any excuse he could find to destroy the clan of his most powerful rival. In the Edo period, the Shogunate banned all mention of contemporary events on stage and was especially sensitive to all mention of the Toyotomi clan and anyone associated with it. On stage, Kat˘ Kiyomasa always appeared under the thinly disguised name of Sat˘ Masakiyo. In this play, the aged Masakiyo defends the young heir of his late lord when he is summoned to a meeting with an old feudal lord who now rules the land. Masakiyo does not budge from his post even when he is weakened by poison. Starring Nakamura Karoku (instead of Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon) and Nakamura Jakuemon as Masakiyo and Hinaginu (the wife of Masakiyo's son).
  • Kagami Jishi: one of the most important dances for onnagata female role specialists and is an audience favorite. The maidservant Yayoi performs an auspicious lion dance for the Sh˘gun in his opulent palace, 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 Onoe Kikunosuke as both Yayoi and the spirit of the lion.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 7 13 ~ 18 May 2021
    Zenshinza Gogatsu K˘en
    Zenshinza May Performances
    1st program

    Ayatsuri Sanbas˘

    Tagaya no Kinta

    2nd program


    Heike Nyogo no Shima (Shunkan)


    Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Arashi Yoshisabur˘


    The Zenshinza celebrates its 90th anniversary with two Kabuki programs at the National Theatre!

  • Ayatsuri Sanbas˘:
    (The Puppet Sanbas˘)
    The Sanbas˘ is part of the ritual play "Okina", a prayer for prosperity and in Kabuki the vigorous Sanbas˘ dance is often performed separately. To make the dance especially auspicious, the old man Okina and attendant Senzai appear as well. In Kabuki, the Sanbas˘ dance appears in all kinds of versions. In this particular version, the Sanbas˘ is actually a giant marionette (Arashi Yoshisabur˘), dancing lightly until his antics tangle his strings, creating problems for his puppeteer.
  • Tagaya no Kinta: A newly-created sewamono drama with a story based on 3 famous rakugo: "Tagaya", "Nagaya no Hanami" and "Hanami no Adauchi".
  • Chatsubo: the farces of the classical Ky˘gen theater have universal appeal, showing the relationships of masters and servants and husbands and wives. In this particular dance play, a servant (Arashi Yoshisabur˘) carries a precious tea caddy which a thief then claims is his. The servant and the thief must both explain who owns the treasure, first in words, then in dance.
  • Shunkan: the priest Shunkan (Fujikawa Yanosuke) has been exiled to Devil's Island for plotting against the dictator Kiyomori. A pardon is given to his fellow conspirators, but Shunkan is only saved by an additional pardon given by Kiyomori's compassionate son. Even so, he gives up his place on the boat to freedom so his companion's new wife can accompany her husband back to the capital. The boat leaves and Shunkan is left watching is disappear in the distance, knowing he will be left on the island forever.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 6 12 ~ 30 May 2021

    Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami


    Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Onoe Matsuya, Kataoka Kamez˘, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Nakamura Toranosuke, Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘, Sasano Takashi


    17th edition of the original Cocoon Kabuki performance, which recreates the atmosphere of the Edo koshibai and brings the actors closer to the audience. The play "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami" is revised by the playwright Kushida Kazuyoshi.

  • Natsu Matsuri: this grisly murder story became a smashing hit when it was first performed in 1745 because of the chivalrous spirit of the many ďsaka characters appearing in this story, the contrast between a brutal murder and the jovial mood of a summer festival, and the splashing of real water used on the stage. Danshichi, a gallant fishmonger, does everything he can to protect the weak young son of his patron with the help of his companion Tokubŕ and the older Sabu. Although even Tokubŕ's wife Otatsu heroically helps out, in the end, Danshichi is betrayed by his evil father-in-law Giheiji and, in the most famous scene of the play, must kill him in a mud-covered fight in a lonely alley with the shouts of the local festival nearby. This program stars Nakamura Kankur˘ as Danshichi, with Onoe Matsuya, Kataoka Kamez˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke as Tokubŕ/Otatsu, Sabu and Danshichi's wife Okaji.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Meijiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 29 ~ 30 May 2021
    Ebiz˘ Kabuki

    Genpei Nunobiki no Taki
    (Sanemori Monogatari)



    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Udanji, Ichikawa Sai'nyű, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Nakamura Kotar˘, Ichikawa Kudanji, ďtani Hiromatsu, Horikoshi Kangen


    A special Kabuki program at the Meijiza starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘.

  • Sanemori Monogatari: a play about the early days of the rivalry between the Genji and Heike warrior clans. The warrior Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) has been charged by the leaders of the dominant Heike clan with finding Aoi Gozen (ďtani Hiromatsu), the pregnant wife of the leader of the enemy Genji clan. He is to kill her child if it is a son who can succeed to head of the clan, but old loyalties to the Genji lead him to protect the boy. Sanemori tells the story of how Koman (Nakamura Kotar˘), the daughter of the old couple who is protecting Aoi Gozen, bravely fought to protect the sacred standard of the Genji from the Heike. Koman mysteriously comes back to life when her severed arm is rejoined to it. Featuring also Ichikawa Udanji as Senoo Jűr˘.
    (Behaving Oddly)
    This is a brand-new Kabuki dance based on audio chat first heard on the SNS app 'Clubhouse'. It's the end of the Edo period in the city of Ky˘to. A peddler of newssheets (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) appears in front of people who have fallen on hard times. With his bad drinking habit, the peddler causes a great disturbance as he turns nasty when drunk. Co-directed by Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Fujima Kanjűr˘ VIII and choreographed by Fujima Kanjűr˘ VIII, this work was originally created by the popular manga artist Kibayashi Shin.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

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