|the right kabuki-za|
I probably wouldn't have gone to see kabuki on my own, but last July it happened that some people on the Couchsurfing Osaka group were planning to go to Osaka's Kabuki house (the kabuki-za) for the performance of some apparently very famous players.
Anyway, on a hot and humid July day, I got all dolled up for the great matinee. Almost, it didn't happen, because I thought I knew where the Kabuki-za was, and which subway stop (which exit even) I had to get off. It just turned out that the massive building I knew as the Osaka Kabuki-za doesn't actually host plays anymore, but a smaller and newer one a block way. Luckily, Osakans are friendly people and I was directed in the right direction once I swallowed my pride and asked why the big old building didn't seem to have an entrance.
|three continents at Dotombori :)|
Sachiko was brilliant in explaining us all about kabuki, which was especially great because the Kabuki-za in Osaka doesn't offer English subtitles (apparently, in Tokyo, you can even get a little headphone with dubs - but to be honest, I think that would have spoiled the experience). We were just given a little leaflet that had short descriptions of the different scenes, but with Sachiko's help, it was all easy enough to follow.
I usually try to give tips for travel on a budget, but it just doesn't work when it comes to theatre and Japan. So my advice is: if you are into theatre and have some Japanese or interest in a certain art form, go and see the noh, the kabuki, the bunraku. If not, save yourself the money - my opinion, I wouldn't have enjoyed it without background knowledge of Japanese mythology and language skills.
The intermission was very Japanese, too - beers and bento boxes, and of course a lot of kabuki trinkets and gift boxes could be bought.
The play itself was interesting - I know, that sounds lame, but it was much less bizarre than I expected, I managed to understand a good deal of the Japanese spoken, but I wasn't exactly blown away. Kabuki is all about small, artful elements, but there are no deep, life-altering stories or dramas to be shared.
To give you an impression of what we saw - this lion dance thing is the apparently very popular and was the highlight of the performance. We had a version with two lions, but there also is a one lion and a three lion version, but I couldn't find great videos of these - these here have only one lion but one has English descriptions and the other one is an amazing close-up!
Most parts very much quieter, while others almost reminded me of martial art performances.
Kabuki is an art form that loves little details, beauty and perfection and is steeped with rituals and mythology, while at the same time, stories and everything around seemed a bit... superficial. This sums it up and also seems to describe many other Japanese things.
If I had to describe it in a one word - kabuki just is very, very Japanese.
Have you seen any foreign theatre variations, and how did you like them?