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• A form of traditional
Japanese drama with
highly stylized song, mime, and dance, now performed only by male actors.
• “act dissolutely”
– “Ka” – song, “bu” – dance, “ki” – art/skill
• “ the art of singing and dancing”
• Derived from Kabuku – “to lean”, “to be out
• Kabukimono - referred originally to those
who were bizarrely dressed and paraded on a
• Kabuki theater – known for the stylization of
its drama and for the elaborate makeup worn
by some of its performers.
• A flower path, a walkway
which extends to the
audience via which dramatic entrances and exits are
– Okuni also performs on a hanamichi stage
with her entourage.
• Kabuki theaters that have stages
both in front of the audience and
along the sides.
• Help create a bond between the
actors and viewers.
The interior of the theater contains a
• A walkway that cuts through the
audience seating area to connect the
stage with the back of the theater
• Magicians and supernatural beings
often make their entrances from trap
doors in the hanamichi.
• Some stages have 17 trapdoors.
• Historical or pre-Sengoku period
• Were set within the context of
major events in Japanese
• Strict censorship laws during the Edo period
prohibited the representation of contemporary events
and particularly prohibited criticising the shogunate or
casting it in a bad light, although enforcement varied
greatly over the years.
• Domestic or postSengoku stories.
• Focused primarily upon
related to themes of family drama and romance.
• The actor holds a picturesque
pose to establish his character &
his house name yago, is sometimes heard in loud shout (kakegoe) from an expert audience
member, serving both to express
and enhance the audience’s
appreciation of the actor’s
achievement. An even greater
compliment can be paid by
shouting the name of the actor’s
2 Main Categories of Actors
• female roles
• male roles
• One of the most iconic parts of kabuki. Actors apply
their own make-up by painting their faces and necks
white, then adding stylized lines in red, black or
• Aragoto - red and blue
• Onna-gata (young women) - have very little paint
• Rice powder is used to create the white oshiroi
base for the characteristic stage makeup.
• Kumadori enhances or exaggerates facial lines to
produce dramatic animal or supernatural
– Red ~ passion, heroism, righteousness, other
– Pink ~ youthful joy
– Light Blue ~ an even temper
– Pale Green ~ peacefulness
– Blue/Black ~ villainy, jealousy, other negative traits
– Green ~ supernatural
– Purple ~ nobility
• Kabuki is performed in full-day programs.
Audiences escape from the day-to-day world,
devoting a full day to entertainment. Though
some individual plays, particularly the
historical jidaimono, might last an entire day,
most were shorter and sequenced with other
plays in order to produce a full-day program.
• The play occupies five acts.
– Jo ~ an auspicious and slow opening which
introduces the audience to the characters and
– Ha ~ speeding events up, culminating almost
in a great moment of drama or tragedy in the
third act and possibly a battle in the second
and/or fourth acts.
– Kyu ~ always short, providing a quick and
• Are often quite interesting.
• Flowing water is usually represented by
fluttering tolls of linen; or creatures like
insects and foxes.
• Fans are used to symbolize wind, a sword, a
tobacco pipe, waves, or food.
• Swung from sticks or manipulated by helpers who
come on stage dressed in black hooded; they are
invisible to the audience.
• The female characters generally wear an
elaborate kimono and obi.
• Pleated hakuma trousers are worn by characters
• Actors playing both sexes often have supported
midriff because a straight and curveless figure are
regarded the essence of beauty.
• Considered as an art.
• There are special teams that take care
of complete and partial costume
changes and are done as part of the
• Are important accessories, with each costume
having its own type.
• Specialized craftsmen shape the wigs to the
• Are made of:
– Human hair
– Horse hair
– Bear fur
– Yak-tail hair