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Kabuki will become more fun with these!
Kabuki-za limited original items!

Craft, Culture2016.11.01

Kabuki is a performing art that is very popular not only among the Japanese, but also foreign visitors to Japan. Although it a famous traditional performing art of Japan that all know, there are surely many people who feel that actually going to the theater is rather a daunting prospect. However, there is no need for such worry. Kabuki was originally developed incorporating the latest events and arts of the times, and is a form of art filled with elements you will be familiar with.
Here, along with the limited original items of Kabuki-za, located in Ginza, Tokyo, we will also introduce some kabuki terminology that is fun to know!

[Collaboration: Shochiku Co., Ltd. & Kabuki-za Co., Ltd.]

A performing art that fuses together tradition and cutting edge!
What is kabuki anyhow?

You can feel the atmosphere of kabuki

[Kabuki-za Original]
Kabuki Large Lantern Pattern
Hand Towel,​ Beige
JP¥ JP¥1,480
See Item HERE

Kabuki is a traditional performing art of Japan that boasts a history of 400 years. At its home, Kabuki-za in Ginza, Tokyo, there are a variety of different plays held throughout the year. There are also many kabuki actors working in contemporary theater and TV dramas, and even now kabuki leads the way for the Japanese entertainment world. The origin of the word "kabuki" is said to be the "kabuki dance" where dancers entertained people while dressed in unconventional fashions, which were the cutting edge of style at the time, without caring about the world of common sense. This kabuki dance is said to have been started by Izumo no Okuni in 1603. The dance became popular in no time and groups of women and boys quickly formed one after the other. The government at the time eventually prohibited the kabuki dance on the grounds that it was throwing public morals into disarray. After this, the emergence of groups containing only adult males is said to be the basis for kabuki today. When viewing kabuki at the theater, there are a lot of conventions so beginners may feel embarrassed. However, all the everyday people that eagerly look forward to going to kabuki are those who have actually supported the culture of kabuki. For example, when an actor strikes an inevitable pose, it is the audience members who shout out with exquisite timing. This makes kabuki a concert-like event where the performers and audience become one. If you think of kabuki as a sophisticated, passionate event with no hard-and-fast rules, you are sure to instantly feel a lot closer to it. Kabuki is made up 3 elements - play, dance and music. Famous writers in each era have increased kabuki's repertoire and many stars have been born. As well as popular historical stories, there are also real-time love affairs at the time of initial performance and, in recent years, collaborations with popular anime. Kabuki flexibly incorporates trends without being bound to only already existing ideas, mastering artistic skill and entertaining many people. Kabuki has continually been passed down through time with such a spirit, and this is what elevates it to a prestigious comprehensive art form that is still popular today.

Everything's more fun if you know it!
Kabuki Terminology

  1. Kabuki Term Explanation No. 1

    Kumadori
    "Kumadori" is the colorfully drawn lines on actor's faces that have the appearance of deformed blood vessels and muscles, and it can be called a symbol of kabuki. There are many kinds of kumadori which are recognized by color. Red represents youth and justice, blue represents evil and vengeful spirits, while brown represents a ghost that has transformed into a person - in this way, you can understand the nature of a character at first sight. By knowing these basic kumadori color meanings, going to see a show is sure to be all the more fun. There are also other kinds of unique kumadori such as a drooping moustache and morning glory leaves.
  2. Kabuki Term Explanation No. 2

    Mie
    At the climax of a play or to express a peak in a character's feelings, the act of striking a pose, turning one's neck and then staring at the surroundings while staying dead still is called "Mie". It is said originally be a stage act to get an audience's attention yet, by being stationery, the viewer concentrate's all of their attention and the act has more intensity than movement. Depending on the performance or actor, there are various kind of different "Mie", and it is one of the enjoyments of the theater.

    Kabuki-za Limited Item!
    Classic Tile Senbei

    Tile Senbei
    JP¥630
    See Item HERE
  3. Kabuki Term Explanation No. 3

    Onnagata
    A woman started kabuki, Izumo no Okuni. However, since then women have been forbidden from performing kabuki. All kabuki actors are male and so an actor who performs a female role is called "Onnagata". Onnagata is not simply a substitute for an "actress". "Women", wholeheartedly played by male kabuki actors who make full use of fine gestures, makeup styles and manners of speaking, are full of unique femininity and charm somewhat different from that of real women.

    An original tenugui hand towel in a design by the print artist Yoshitoshi Mori.

    [Kabuki-za Original]
    Yoshitoshi Mori Picture Hand Towel,​ Fuji Musume
    JP¥1,810
    See Item HERE
  4. Popular Kabuki Play Description No. 1

    The Eighteen Best Kabuki Plays
    (Kabuki Juhachiban)
    There are hundreds of kabuki plays, however the most popular 18 are referred to as the "Kabuki Juhachiban", the Eighteen Best Kabuki Plays. In general, this refers to those established by Ichikawa Danjuro VII in the early 19th century.
  5. Popular Kabuki Play Description No. 2

    Kanjincho
    "Kanjincho" is an especially popular play that is one of the "Kabuki Juhachiban" collection of plays. The escape journey scene of Yoshitsune, known as the most famously tragic hero in Japan, and his follower Benkei Musashibo is dramatically portrayed. Here, Benkei gives a convincing performance for the purpose of saving his lord, Yoshitsune. It is a play full of highlights including its "Mie".

    An original tenugui hand towel in a design by the print artist Yoshitoshi Mori.

    [Kabuki-za Original]
    Yoshitoshi Mori Picture Hand Towel,​ Kanjincho
    JP¥1,810
    See Item HERE
  6. Popular Kabuki Play Description No. 3

    Renjishi
    A play that uses the legend of a parent lion dropping its own cub into the bottom of a valley and making it crawl up on its own to make it grow strong. The harsh yet loving father together with the courage of the cub brings tears to the eyes. In between, there is also lots of humorous kyogen and so this play is a popular masterpiece that viewers never grown tired of.

    Renjishi is depicted on the red can!

    Kabuki-za Mini Gaufres
    3 Can Set
    JP¥1,300
    See Item HERE
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