Sunday, February 28, 2016

A last look at Kabukiza Theatre

Kabukiza Rooftop Garden

Kabukiza - English - Lunch - Shopping Information

The "Earphone-Guide" provides comments and explanations relating to the plot, music, actors, properties and other aspects of Kabuki which may be difficult for non-Japanese visitors to understand Comments are carefully timed to coincide with the action on stage. The receiver is rented at the Earphone-Guide counters to the right of the entrance, and the 4th floor (Single Act seats only). The receiver rent is Y700 (for Single Act : Y500). Refundable deposit is Y1,000.

Enjoy Japanese food in the restaurants in-between acts (please make reservations two or more days before your visit. Tel: +81 (0)3-3545-6820/10:00am - 17:00pm. reservation in Japanese only). Drinks and lunch boxes are also available in the shops on each floor. Customers are permitted to eat and drink at their seats during intermission. Restaurants inside the theatre are only accessible to those with full-length performance tickets (not available for those with Single Act ticket).

Various shops with food and drinks and handmade traditional Japanese sweets are located in the theatre. Also handcraft souvenirs and Japanese goods as well as Kabuki-related products such as books, DVDs, and photos are available in the shops. The shops located in the Basement Level 2 and the Fifth Floor of the Kabukiza Tower is open to the general public and accessible without a ticket to the performance.

A Brief History of Kabukiza Theatre

The Original Kabukiza Theatre (November 21, 1889) It was built decorated with a western style exterior and Japanese interior, centered on the ideas of Genichiro Fukuchi, a theater reformist. It was named after the genre it presented, and perhaps this may seem simple, but it was quite original at a time when venues were often named after people or locations. 

The Second Period (1911) Rebuilt with a traditional Japanese palatial exterior. The founders of Shochiku Co., Ltd. began to operate the theater in 1914. The building was completely destroyed in October 1921 by fire.

The Third Period During the reconstruction of the theater in 1923, work was interrupted due to the Great Kanto Earthquake on September 1. After three years, the building was completed with the combined decoration of the Nara and Momoyama period architectural design. In May 1945, an air raid almost completely destroyed the theatre.

The Fourth Period (January 1951) The theater was rebuilt using surviving sections, and also preserved the design of the Third Period while incorporating modern facilities. Kabuki developed along with the rapid changes in society, and regained its popularity as we see today, such as through various illustrious ceremonies of inheriting prestigious family names and also performing kabuki in various cities overseas. The theater closed in April 2010.

The Fifth Period (April 2013) The theater you see today was conceived under the motto of "reconstructing the theater retaining the spirit of the Fourth Period." The exterior hosts the beautiful decor of the two periods from its predecessor and displays traditional Japanese craftsmanship and designs in the interior.

The Phoenix The symbol of the phoenix is used in various places throughout the Kabukiza Theatre including banners, lanterns, the roof, and even seats. This mythical bird is a symbol of high virtue. The phoenix, who had taken off after its final performance in 2010, returns to welcome the audiences and watch over the first year of the performance celebrating the reopening, which will mark the first year of the next 100 years to come in kabuki.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Three plays at Kabukiza Theatre

STORY: There is no more important celebratory dance than Sambaso, a ritual showing the old man Okina and the vigorous Sambaso. The old man is a symbol of eternal youth and as the Sambaso stamps and shakes bells at the stage, he prays for agricultural fertility and prosperity for all. A good program to congratulate the opening of the all-star performance in the month of November.

STORY: Ii Naosuke was the head councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan in 1860 when there were pressures from inside and outside the country. Imperial loyalists demanded that the shogun step down and hand over rule to the emperor to resist the foreign barbarians. The United States and other countries insisted that Japan open its doors. On March 3, at the snow-covered gate to the shogun's castle, Ii Naosuke was assassinated by imperial loyalists. This modem play by Hojo Hideji features the last day before the assassination as Naosuke senses that his end is near. The deaths of an old friend and his newbom daughter make Naosuke and his mistress Oshizu think back to simpler times before he was burdened by such responsibilities.

KUMAGAI JINYA -from Ichinotani Futaba Gunki
STORY: One of the climactic battles between the Heike and Genji clans took place on the beach at Suma, when the Genji made a surprise attack on the Heike camp and drove the Heike to escape in their boats. In one of the most famous episodes of that battle, the Genji warrior Kumagai was riding on the beach searching for a worthy opponent when he saw a magnificent general. But fighting with him, he suddenly found that it was a young boy, named Atsumori, the same age as his son. Kumagai wanted to spare Atsumori, but couldn't and eventually he was moved to reject the life of a warrior and become a Buddhist priest. This version of this story transforms the battle between Kumagai and Atsumori into a complex drama of love, duty and sacrifice with some very surprising plot twists.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Visiting Kabuki-za Theater in Tokyo

Photography is forbidden during Kabuki performance
Out front

In the lobby

Getting your seat

Translating the play PLUS background on Kabuki

It starts as the lower stage is about to rise