In “Discover KABUKI,” popular kabuki pieces are performed by seasoned actors for global audiences who can experience the fascinating world of kabuki and its illustrious, 400-year history.
The word kabuki is made up of the words ka (song), bu (dance), and ki (technique or skill), and the art form came into existence around 1603 as a series of short dances. Since then, its repertoire has blossomed to include plays, which primarily date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Though it was originally known as the principal entertainment of the urban merchant classes, kabuki is now regarded as the traditional theater of Japan and continues to flourish and draw large audiences at home and abroad—it is regarded as one of the world’s great theatrical arts.
Considered a kabuki masterpiece, Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees introduces a classic depiction of an exchange between a human and an animal based on the legend of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a famous samurai who is revered as one of Japan’s greatest warriors. Yoshitsune’s likeness frequently appears in Japanese art, and he has notably become a staple figure in kabuki. The action takes place during the samurai’s wandering journey in flight from pursuers sent by his older brother Yoritomo. The original play, consisting of five acts, was first performed as ningyo joruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater), and has since been adapted into a popular kabuki program. For this occasion, the National Theatre, Tokyo presents “Kawatsura Hogen Yakata” (“The Mansion of Kawatsura Hogen”) from Act Four, a well-known scene frequently offered as a stand-alone performance.
With a renowned cast that includes Nakamura Matagoro, who over the years has amassed popularity in the dual role of the wise and courageous retainer Sato Tadanobu and the fox Genkuro Gitsune, it is a moving and whimsical performance that you are sure to enjoy.
Free audio guidance is provided in English and Japanese as you take in the performance, along with English subtitles and a multilingual booklet that includes the highlights and outline of the story.
For more details and to buy tickets, please visit the theater’s official website.