is a popular dramatic art form that has been a favorite among the
Japanese popular since the seventeenth century . It is today more
popular than either noh or
bunraku, two classical dramatic forms from which it borrows heavily. Because of its assimilation of various aspects of the other dramatic art forms, kabuki might well be called a summarization of traditional Japanese theatrical art.
Kabuki does however, have a number of unique points. One of these is
the mawari butai (revolving stage) which permits almost instantaneous
changes of scene. Another is the hanamichi, a long, narrow, walk-like
extension of the stage that runs through the audience to the back of the
stage that runs through the audience to the back of the theater .
Although the actors often enter and exit via the hanamichi, it is not
primarily a passageway but a device for permitting the actors to come
into closer contact with their audience.
Manekiage: Kabuki Theater in Kyoto
Music and dancing are fundamental to the Kabuki performance. Most kabuki plays are performed to the accompaniment of typically Japanese melodies played on several shamisen (a three-stringed instrument of the lute family) and other instruments peculiar to Japan. The actors are required to follow a specific “kabuki rhythm” pattern are required to follow a specific “kabuki rhythm” pattern in both their speech and their moviments. Differing greatly from modern drama which lays primary emphasis on realism, kabuki is a formalized art in which the significance of omissions, exaggerations and many of the actors movements is pre-defined.
Anyone watching kabuki for the first will no doubt be surprised to learn that all roles, including those of female characters, are played by men. He will also be amazed by the rapidity with which the actors change costumes, often transforming themselves into totally different characters in a matter of seconds.
By subject matter, kabuki plays fall into two categories: those which deal with the fortunes of the noble and warrior classes and those which depict the lives of the common people.
The art of kabuki acting is passed on from father to son and training begins at a very early age. The actor is considered more important than the play but the play is changed to fit his particular skills.
Traditional Arts and Crafts-Bunraku
Traditional Arts and Crafts-Noh