NEWS FROM THE KABUKI WORLD
30 April
2021

Important: 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 from the 25th of April to the 11th of May 2021: T˘ky˘ Metropolis, ďsaka Prefecture, Ky˘to Prefecture and Hy˘go Prefecture. As a consequence, Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza had to stop from the 25th of April 2021. Several Kabuki performances in May 2021 have been rescheduled from the 12th or the 13th of May 2021.

Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, who fell ill at the end of April 2021, will not perform as scheduled in May 2021 at the Kabukiza. He was expected to play the role of Sat˘ Masakiyo in the drama "Hachijin". He will be replaced by Nakamura Karoku.

The three programs for the June 2021 Grand Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza, have been published [more details]. There will be 3 Living National Treasures on stage: Onoe Kikugor˘, Kataoka Nizaemon and Band˘ Tamasabur˘. Onoe Kikugor˘ will play the role of the the old woman in "Yűgao Dana". Kataoka Nizaemon and Band˘ Tamasabur˘ will perform together in the second half of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "Sakura Hime". Others highlights will be "Gohiiki Kanjinch˘" with Nakamura Shikan in the role of Musashib˘ Benkei and "Nichiren", which will be staged to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the famous Buddhist priest Nichiren.

The two programs for the July 2021 Grand Kabuki in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza have been published [more details]. The troupe will be led by Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon. There will be a 3-generation Matsushimaya staging of the dance drama "Omatsuri" with Kataoka Nizaemon, his son Kataoka Takatar˘ and his grandson Kataoka Sennosuke.

The educational Kabuki program, Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitu ("Kabuki appreciation class"), at the National Theatre in June 2021 has been published [more details].

Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ will perform in July 2021 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza [more details].

Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ will perform in August 2021 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza [more details].

The 1st edition of a special Kabuki program under the guidance of Ichikawa Ebiz˘, entitled Ichikawa Ebiz˘ Kikaku K˘en ~ IBUKI ('Ichikawa Ebiz˘ Project Performances ~ Breath') and starring Nakamura Kotar˘, Ichikawa Kudanji and ďtani Hiromatsu, will be staged from the 17th to the 20th of June 2021 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza [more details].

Three new videos on the YouTube channel Kabuki In-Depth: In Praise of Shadows:

Short videos with English subtitles of Kabuki performances in January 2021 and March 2021 at the National Theatre have been uploaded on the Kabuki playlist of the National Theatre Official YouTube Channel:

Short videos with English subtitles of Kabuki performances in January 2021 at the Kabukiza have been uploaded on the Sh˘chiku Official YouTube Channel:

Two posters for the April 2021 performances at the Kabukiza have been published:

The Duty of Remembrance:

  • The 13th of April 2021, we could have celebrated the 200th anniversary of the premiere at the Kado no Shibai of the drama "Kajiwara Heiz˘ K˘bai Tazuna", a new version of the third act of "Miura no ďsuke ďbai Tazuna", which was revised by Kanazawa Ryűgoku I [casting]. This drama was premiered the 11th day of the 3rd lunar month of the 4th year of the Bunsei era, which was the 13th of April 1821 in the western calendar.
  • The 3rd of April 2021, we could have celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passing away of the actor Ichikawa Jukai III, who died the 3rd of April 1971.
  • We could not report earlier the following piece of news: the world of Kabuki and the world of otaku collided for the 8th time in Kabuki history in April 2021! Ch˘kabuki (literally Ultra-Kabuki) was back again! Nakamura Shid˘ once again shared the stage with the virtual 3D creature Hatsune Miku. They performed together in a Ch˘kabuki dance-drama entitled "Otogi Z˘shi Koi no Sugatae". It was staged at the Makuhari Messe the 24th and the 25th of April 2021, as part of the Niconico Ch˘kaigi 2021 event, an important yearly event for the otaku tribes [more details].

    Nakamura Hashinosuke performed for a few days outside Kabuki, the 23rd and the 24th of April 2021 in T˘ky˘ at the T˘ky˘ Tatemono Brillia Hall, where he played the role of Louis XVI in the drama "Sanson Rui Jűrokusei no Kubi o Haneta Otoko" (literally 'Sanson, the Man who Cut the Head of Louis XVI'). The role of Charles-Henri Sanson was played by Inagaki Gor˘. Here is the schedule of the performances to come:

  • In ďsaka at the Orix Theater from the 21st to the 24th of May 2021.
  • In Fukuoka at the Kurume City Plaza from the 11th to the 13th of June 2021.
  • In Yokohama at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre from the 25th to the 27th of June 2021.
  • A special program at the Minamiza in Ky˘to to explain stage mechanisms, from the tachimawari to the hanamichi. An interesting program to experience some of the unique stagecraft tricks used in Japanese Kabuki theatre. Tours will be organized from the 14th to the 20th of May 2021 [more details in Japanese]. This program started the 27th of March 2021 and was supposed to end the 26th of April 2021 before restarting the 1st of May and run up to the 20th of May. It had to stop from the 25th of April because of the third state of emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

    31 March
    2021

    The March 2021 Grand Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza were impacted by two incidents:

  • Due to illness, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon could not perform the 29th of March in the drama "Sanmon". He was replaced by Matsumoto K˘shir˘ for the role of Ishikawa Goemon and Matsumoto K˘shir˘, who used to play the role of Mashiba Hisayoshi up to the 28th of March, was replaced by Nakamura Ganjir˘.
  • The second program was cancelled the 26th and the 27th of March due to the confirmation a musician being infected with coronavirus. The performances were back to normal the 28th and the 29th of March.
  • The great yearly Dankiku festival for the Naritaya and Otowaya guilds will not happen at the Kabukiza in May 2021. The Otowaya guild will be present with 3 generations of actors but not the Naritaya guild. The troupe will be led by Living National Treasures Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Kichiemon. The highlights of the April 2021 Grand Kabuki will be:

  • "Tsuchi Gumo" with Onoe Sh˘roku and Ichikawa Ennosuke.
  • The 6th act of "Kanadehon Chűshingura" with Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Tokiz˘ in the roles of Kanpei and Okaru. It is interesting to not that the 6th act will be staged without the 5th act, a very unusual feature in a Kabuki program. Instead of the 5th act, "Ochiudo" will be staged.
  • "Kosui Gozabune" with Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon and Nakamura Jakuemon in the roles of Sat˘ Masakiyo and Hinaginu.
  • Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will perform in May 2021 in T˘ky˘ at the Meijiza. He will play the role of Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori in the drama "Sanemori Monogatari" and he will perform in a newly-created Kabuki drama entitled "KABUKU", which has been created by the manga storywriter, novelist and screenwriter Kibayashi Shin [more details].

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will perform in June 2021 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza. Same troupe and same program as the one in May 2021 at the Meijiza [more details].

    There will be the 14th of April 2021 an online talk about Kabuki, entitled "The Evolution of Kabuki to the Traditional Performing Arts" and organized by the Center for Japanese Studies at Berkeley University of California:

  • The Evolution of Kabuki to the Traditional Performing Arts.
  • Center for Japanese Studies | April 14 | 5-5:30 p.m. | Online - Zoom Webinar
  • Speaker: Jihye Kim, Visiting Graduate Student Researcher, ďsaka University
  • Sponsor: Center for Japanese Studies (CJS)
  • The Japan Arts Council has opened "National Theatre Online"! Clips of performances or videos to introduce the traditional performing arts are available, not only for Kabuki but also for Bunraku or . 3 new Kabuki clips have been uploaded:

    Three new videos on the YouTube channel Kabuki In-Depth: In Praise of Shadows:

    Kataoka Takatar˘ is one of the 4 performing artists who will receive the 2020 Nihon Geijutsuin Sh˘, the Japan Art Academy Prize. The ceremony will happen in June 2021 in Ueno at the Nihon Geijutsuin Kaikan (Japan Art Academy Hall).

    Nakamura Yonekichi was the award-winners of the "New Face" Award (Engeki Shinjin Sh˘) of the 42nd Matsuo Artistic Awards (Matsuo Gein˘ Sh˘).

    Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ will perform outside the Kabuki world in May 2021:

  • Singing recital from the 17th to the 19th of May 2021 in T˘ky˘ at the Blue Note.
  • A talk show along with the dancer Umekawa Ichinosuke (who used to be a disciple of Nakamura Shid˘ named Nakamura Shijir˘) the 27th of May 2021 in ďita at the Heiwa City Park N˘ Theater.
  • A talk show along with the dancer Umekawa Ichinosuke the 28th of May 2021 in Hita at the Patria Hita.
  • Band˘ Minosuke will perform outside the Kabuki world in April and May 2021, along with the Korean actress Shim Eun-kyung, in Nagahisa Makoto's musical "The Vanishing Girl &The Time Banker". From the 6th to the 25th of April 2021 in T˘kyo at the T˘kyo Metropolitan Theatre. From the 30th of April to the 1st of May 2021 in ďsaka at the Umeda Arts Theater.

    The Duty of Remembrance:

  • The 16th of March 2021, we could have celebrated the 300th anniversary of the passing away of the actor ďtani Hiroemon I (1666~1721). This actor, who was not only the founder of the ďtani clan and an outstanding Edo jitsuaku, died the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month of the 6th year of the Ky˘h˘ era was the 16th of March 1721 in the western calendar.
  • In March 2021, we could have celebrated the 100th anniversary of the premiere of the matsubamemono dance-drama "Chatsubo", which was staged for the first time in March 1921 at the Imperial Theater.
  • 28 February
    2021

    The three programs for the April 2021 Grand Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza, have been published [more details]. There will be 3 Living National Treasures on stage: Kataoka Nizaemon, Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Nakamura T˘z˘. The second item in the first program, the dance-drama "Kanjinch˘", will be divided into two subprograms, A and B. The roles of Musashib˘ Benkei and Togashi Saemon will be played by Matsumoto Haku˘ and Matsumoto K˘shir˘ in the A subprogram and by Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and Onoe Matsuya in the B subprogram. The A subprogram will be staged the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 25th and 27th of April 2021. The B subprogram will be staged the 4th, 6th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd, 24th, 26th and 28th of March 2021. There won't be any performance the 9th and the 19th of April 2021. The highlights of the April 2021 Grand Kabuki will be:

  • "Kokaji", a classic of the Omodakaya guild belonging to the En'˘ Jűshu collection, which was staged in ˘shibai for the last time in December 1997 at the Kabukiza.
  • "Kanjinch˘" with 2 generations of K˘raiya Benkei: Matsumoto Haku˘ and Matsumoto K˘shir˘.
  • "Taijű" with Nakamura Shikan in the role of Takechi Mitsuhide.
  • "Sakura Hime" with Living National Treasures Kataoka Nizaemon and Band˘ Tamasabur˘.
  • Due to heavy renovation works at the Kanamaruza, started in October 2020, the 37th edition of the Spring Kabuki performances called Shikoku Konpira Kabuki ďshibai, Shikoku Konpira Kabuki Grand Theatre, will not happen this year.

    The Nakamuraya brothers Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke will be on tour in March 2021 [more details] and April 2021 [more details]. This is the second edition of a Spring Tour called Shungy˘ Tokubetsu K˘en, literally 'The Dawn of Spring Special Performances'. The first edition happened in March 2018 and April 2018.

    Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke and Nakamura Baigyoku will perform in June 2021 in Fukuoka at the Hakataza [more details].

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, along with Ichikawa Udanji and with Nakamura Kotar˘, will be on tour all over Japan (14 cities) from the 5th to the 24th of March 2021. This tour will be as usual entitled Koten he no Izanai, literally "Invitation to the Classics" [more details].

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and his two children, Horikoshi Kangen and Ichikawa Botan, will perform from the 26th to the 29th of March 2021 in Yamaga at the Yachiyoza, a traditional wooden-built theater [more details].

    The Nakamuraya brothers Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke, ahead of the February Grand Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza commemorating the 32nd anniversary (33rd memorial services) of the passing away of Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVII [more details], went to the Edo Kabuki Hassh˘ no Chi monument in the district of Ky˘bashi [picture].

    The Duty of Remembrance:

  • The 11th of Feburay 2021, we could have celebrated the 250th anniversary of the premiere of Namiki Sh˘z˘ I's drama "Kuwanaya Tokuz˘ Irifune Monogatari". This drama was premiered in ďsaka at the Naka no Shibai the 27th day of the 12th lunar month of the Meiwa era, which was the 11th February of 1771 in the western calendar.
  • The 7th of February 2021, we could have celebrated the 150th anniversary of the passing away of the star Seki Sanjűr˘ III (1805~1871). This actor died the 18th day of the 12th lunar month of the 3rd year of the Meiji era, which was the 7th of February 1871 in the western calendar.
  • In Feburay 2021, we could have celebrated the 50th anniversary of the shűmei of the actor Kataoka Gat˘ V and the hatsubutai of Kataoka Gat˘ V's son Kataoka Shinnosuke.
  • 4 new videos on the YouTube channel Kabuki In-Depth: In Praise of Shadows:

    No Kabuki for Ichikawa Ennosuke in February and March 2021. He started to perform from the 10th of February 2021 in the drama "Yabuhara Kengy˘" [more details], which is scheduled in 4 theaters:

  • From the 10th of February to the 7th of March 2021 in T˘ky˘ at the PARCO Gekij˘.
  • From the 9th to the 10th of March 2021 in Nagoya at the NTK Hall (Village).
  • From the 13th to the 14th of March 2021 in Komatsu at the Urara Theater Komatsu.
  • From the 18th to the 21st of March 2021 in Ky˘to at the Ky˘to Art Theater Shunjűza.
  • The 2nd edition of the Yű no Kai, a gala which stars ďtani Keiz˘ and his son ďtani Ryűsei, was expected to happen the 23rd of February 2021 at the Nagame Yoky˘j˘ (Nagame Entertainment Theater), a traditional wooden-built theater (1937) in the city of Midori in Gunma Prefecture, but it was postponed one more time. It was initially expected to happen the 12th of April 2020 but it was postponed for the first time due to the COVID-19 crisis. This time, it was postponed to the 28th of February 2021 but it was staged without audience for sanitary reasons. The performance was videotaped. Moreover, this month, the actor ďtani Keiz˘ has also opened his own YouTube Channel.

    31 January
    2021

    The three programs for the March 2021 Grand Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza, have been published [more details]. There will be 5 Living National Treasures on stage: Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Kataoka Nizaemon and Nakamura T˘z˘. The 3rd program will be divided into two programs, A and B. Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ will perform either in "Sumidagawa" (A program) or in "Yuki"/"Kane-ga-Misaki" (B program). The A program will be staged the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th of March 2021. The B program will be staged the 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th of March 2021. There won't be any performance the 11th and the 22nd of March 2021. The highlights of the March 2021 Grand Kabuki will be:

  • "Kumagai Jin'ya" with Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon.
  • "Naozamurai" with Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Tokiz˘.
  • "Sanmon" with Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon and Matsumoto K˘shir˘.
  • "Sumidagawa" with Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Nakamura Ganjir˘.
  • The March 2021 Kabuki program at the National Theatre has been published. It will be entitled Kabuki Meisaku Nyűmon (literally 'Introduction to Kabuki Masterpieces'). The drama "Badarai no Mitsuhide" will be staged with Onoe Kikunosuke in the role of Takechi Mitsuhide. There will be no performance the 10th, the 11th and the 19th of March 2021 [more details].

    The Zenshinza celebrates its 90th anniversary in May 2021 at the National Theatre with two Kabuki programs instead of the usual one single program. The troupe will be led by the 3-generation leaders Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke and Arashi Yoshisabur˘ [more details].

    The 17th edition of the original Cocoon Kabuki will happen in May 2021 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 "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami" will be revised by the playwright Kushida Kazuyoshi.

    An application for smart phones or tablets was released the 15th of January 2021. It has been developped by the Sh˘chiku Company and it uses an AR technology called 'Reverse Reality' (AR meaning Augmented Reality). Adopting the theme of the famous Kabuki dance-drama "Shakkyo", this application shows a 6-minute performance in which the Kabuki actor Kataoka Ainosuke appears as the spirit of the shishi via the camera of your smartphone or your tablet and performs a dance just as he is in front of you. By using AR (Augmented Reality) technology, the place where the application is used instantly becomes a kind of stage, and before your very eyes, you can enjoy the Kataoka Ainosukeĺs performance at home. This application works with iOS (minimum 13.7) or Android (from version 10) [more details].

    Short videos with English subtitles of Kabuki performances in December 2020 at the Minamiza have been uploaded on the Sh˘chiku Official YouTube Channel:

    Short videos with English subtitles of Kabuki performances in December 2020 at the Kabukiza have been uploaded on the Sh˘chiku Official YouTube Channel:

    A new very interesting Kabuki-related YouTube Channel has just been created: Kabuki In-Depth: In Praise of Shadows. So far, two videos have been made and uploaded:

    A talk show entitled Utsukushiki Onnagata no Sekai (literally 'the world of beautiful onnagata') with Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Onoe Kikunosuke will be streamed online the 13th of February 2020 through the streaming service e+ Streaming+.

    We forgot at the end of last year to report a special one-day 2-performance Zenshinza Kabuki program the 27th of January 2021 in Koganei at the Koganei Miyaji Musical Hall (Koganei Citizens Exchange Center) [more details].

    Two actors performing at the Kabukiza in January 2021 had to stop acting for a few days:

  • Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon stopped acting the 17th and he was back on stage the 25th.
  • Nakamura Kangyoku stopped acting the 7th and he was back on stage the 17th.
  • Two posters for the February 2021 performances at the Kabukiza have been published:

    An opening ceremony for the Kabukiza tonbo training center happened the 28th of January 2021 [pictures and more details in Japanese].

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