Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kabuki Day

One of the main components of my school's (KCP) programme is the Saturday "Culture Classes".  The first of such Culture Classes was an outing to a Kabuki show.  More on the Kabuki in a second, but first, some irrelevant, funny pictures.

The night before the Kabuki, some friends and I were trying to find a place for supper.  We ended up stumbling upon this: Freshness Burger.  Their fries were amazing, but the burger itself was so-so... Also, they charged an extra 110¥ for a slice of cheese.  That's like $1.33.

Before we went to the play, we attended a lecture.  The lecture was supposed to be about Kabuki and Japanese traditional arts.  We were also supposed to have the story of the play explained to us, since the play was, naturally, presented in Japanese.  Instead, we met a very kindly old man who told us a thousand and one stories, none of which related to Kabuki.

He told us about the current Emperor, about how he met his wife playing tennis, and about how he was the first Emperor to marry for love, not for duty.  He told us of WWII, about Hiro-Hito and Tōjō, and about how he was 11 when the first Americans landed in Japan.  He told us that he drinks at least one Coca-Cola every day, and that, when he was younger and played baseball, he would sometimes have a bottle of Coke after every inning.  Needless to say, it was vastly entertaining.

Then we had a lunch break, and I found this in one of the vending machines.

It tasted awful, by the way. ōū¥

Before the play started, I decided to go to the bathroom.  I found this:

And then I elected to find a different bathroom.

Kabuki is a somewhat ancient form of Japanese theatre, dating back to 17th century Ōsaka.  While it was originally performed by women, it quickly became a male-only art.  Still today, only men act in Kabuki - as such, some very pretty men make themselves up as women to perform.  This is a man.

 This is the curtain for the stage.  It's a woven tapestry.  I was impressed.

Another thing that hasn't changed about Kabuki: it is still performed in a 17th century Ōsaka-based dialect of Japanese.  As such, virtually no one can understand what is being saidYeah.

The decor and the costumes are very impressive.  The acting is very expressive, as much of the story is supposed to be conveyed through exaggerated facial expressions and slow, flowing movements.  Live music accompanies every scene, with traditional stringed instruments, wood blocks and loud, almost-sung narration helping tell the story.

Unfortunately, the combination of dissonant chords, low-action theatre and not being able to understand tends to make people sleepy...  Not to mention the super comfortable seats...  Everyone around me - Japanese or not - fell asleep at some point during the presentation.  I think the only people who didn't were this old Japanese couple sitting next to me, and I'm sure he only stayed awake because she would have scolded him if he slept.

So yeah!  That was my day at Kabuki!

1 comment:

  1. Japanese Shakespeare! Incomprehensible if you don't focus and learn a little about the period. Good for you for trying so hard. Dad


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