Today I saw kabuki for the first time. Kabuki is traditional Japanese theater where all of the actors are men, even female characters are played by men.
Kabuki is very stylized, with certain gestures and sounds having specific meanings and connotations.
The kabuki theater we went to this evening was in Fushimi, and it will be closing down soon, due to the building being too old and unsafe for earthquakes; so this may have been the last kabuki at that theater!
Kabuki has a very interesting style of music and singing. The singing is more like drawn out throat noises with lots of shouting, and the music is often sharp flute screeches wooden blocks clapping, and a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. I enjoy the music of kabuki, but it's not for everyone.
So tonight's performance was divided into 4 different shows.
The first show was a dance, and though I had no idea what kind of story they were telling, the dance was a spectacle to watch. The next show was a love story between a husband and wife who have been separated for 37 years due the husband being sent to prison for accidentally killing a man. It was a very touching story, and the man playing as the wife makes a very convincing woman, lol.
A cool thing about kabuki is its rotating stage. While the actors are acting on the stage facing the audience, the stages facing behind are being set up by the stage crew. When it's time to change scenes, the stage rotates around to the newly prepared set.
The next performance was the actors announcing themselves... I think. Basically they just sat and talked. I had no idea though what they were saying nor was there any description in my handy English kabuki guide I got from my school.
The last show was by far the best. It had a fox in it (enough said). The fox was always hanging around this drum owned by Yoshitsune, because the drum was made from the hides of his parents. He loved his parents very much, and remained loyal to them. Yoshitsune was touched by the fox's loyalty, so he gave the drum to the fox. In return, the fox protected Yoshitsune from an invading army by playing tricks on them. The fox used many trap doors throughout the stage, which was amazing. I would close my eyes for a second, and he would be in a totally different part of the stage. He came from the roof, under the stairs, from trees, etc. In addition, this piece had acrobatics in it. The fox was amazing as he danced, tumbled, and walked on railings. At the end, he was hooked to some wires and was lifted into the air. He was lifted all the way up the balcony, where cherry blossoms were thrown out into the audience. It was a sight to behold.
I was so glad I went and got to have this amazing experience.