March Kabuki Program at Kabukiza Theatre

Daily: March 3rd through 27th

Box Seat : 20,000 / First Class Seat : 18,000 / Second Class : 14,000 / Upper Tier A : 6,000 / Upper Tier B : 4,000
Unit: Japanese Yen (tax included)

This month you can see visually stunning stage sets in several masterpieces from the kabuki classics, as well as a dance and a 'New Kabuki' play. The splendid performers range from young stars to the highest-ranking mature actors. In the matinee there is a dance commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Bandō Mitsugorō who was an excellent actor and dancer. In the evening show there is 'Sukeroku', a popular play that is being performed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the beginning of 'katō-bushi', a genre of music played during the show.

Matinee (from 11:00 AM):


[Description of a Wise Ruler's Conduct]


Ikeda Mitsumasa : Nakamura Baigyoku
Aochi Zenzaemon : Bando Kamesaburo


 This play was written by Mayama Seika in 1937 and belongs to the genre known as 'New Kabuki'.
 The lord of Okayama Castle Ikeda Mitsumasa is known as a wise ruler.
Mitsumasa's close attendant Aochi Zenzaemon has shot and killed a bird without knowing that hunting was forbidden in that area. When a foot soldier blames him for his actions he slays him. Zenzaemon requests to be judged by his lord, thinking it would be a good opportunity to know Mitsumasa's true character about which Zenzaemon had felt some doubt. Zenzaemon asks for severe punishment, but Mitsumasa wants to save him. Hearing that Rinsuke who had originally handed the gun to Zenzaemon has hanged himself, Mitsumasa summons Zenzaemon. He gives him the gun used on that day and orders him to shoot at Mitsumasa's eye supposing it to be a wild goose. Zenzaemon cannot bear this and throws down the gun. Mitsumasa declares that since Rinsuke killed himself, there is no evidence and that without it one cannot be judged. Zenzaemon is impressed by Mitsumasa's generosity and apologizes to Mitsumasa from the bottom of his heart.

Daimotsu no Ura

[From 'Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees'[Tokaiya Inn] and [Daimotsu Bay]]


Tokaiya Gimpei, in reality Taira no Tomomori : Kataoka Nizaemon
Oryu, Gimpei's wife, in reality Suke no Tsubone : Nakamura Tokizo
Musashibō Benkei : Bando Yajuro
Minamoto no Yoshitsune : Nakamura Baigyoku


 Presented this month are two scenes from 'Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees', one of the greatest classics of the puppet theatre, which has also become a classic of kabuki. It is a "jidaimono" history play portraying the life of General Minamoto no Yoshitsune during the 12th century civil wars between the Genji and the Heike clans.
After recent battles, the Genji are victorious and their leader Yoritomo is now shōgun. But there is a falling out between Yoritomo and his brother Yoshitsune, the brilliant general responsible for their victory. As a result, Yoshitsune is fleeing through the country from his brother's forces, and this play fancifully has him encounter several famous warriors from the Heike clan who, despite the historical truth, are not yet dead .
Yoshitsune books passage on a boat to Kyūshū, but the captain is actually Taira no Tomomori, a general of the Heike clan that Yoshitsune helped to defeat. Tomomori was supposedly killed by Yoshitsune in the final battle of the war, but in this play Tomomori is shown surviving, living in disguise with the child emperor Antoku and his nursemaid. For one moment, the captain is a gallant commoner, but soon he reveals himself to be Tomomori, a high ranking general close to the emperor. His wife, as well, is first a cheerful commoner who then shows her true identity as a high-ranking lady-in-waiting dressed in the magnificent robes of the imperial court, for she is actually the Emperor's wet nurse . Tomomori uses this opportunity to try to get his revenge on Yoshitsune but is defeated again. Finally, Tomomori fastens the rope of a giant anchor around his body and plunges to his death in the sea.

Jisssei Bando Mitsugoro Sankaiki Tsuizen Kyōgen

Commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Bando Mitsugoro X
[A Street Performance by Dontsuku]


Dontsuku, a carrier : Bando Minosuke
Tsurudayū, a master : Onoe Shoroku
A young master : Ichikawa Ebizo
A geisha : Nakamura Tokizo
A sweet white saké seller : Nakamura Kaishun
A carpenter : Onoe Kikugoro

 This is a dance portraying street performances by itinerant entertainers.
 Kameido Tenjin Shrine is crowded with many pilgrims. The people are enjoying watching Tsurudayū, a master of 'daikagura' , and the country man Dontsuku dancing together. After a sweet white saké seller delivers a speech to sell his saké, Tsurudayū demonstrates his skill at juggling. He imitates Dontsuku's rustic dance and everyone joins in.
The contrast between the Tokyo-style master and the rustic country man is highly enjoyable to watch, and the scene where Dontsuku dances wearing a mask is the highlight of the performance.
This dance has a deep association with the family of Bando Mitsugoro X, a kabuki star who was a great actor and dancer, and this performance commemorates the third anniversary of his death.

Evening Show (from 4:30 PM):


[The Skylight]


Nan Yohe, later Minamikata Jujibe : Matsumoto Koshiro
Nuregami Chogoro : Bando Yajuro
Oko, Chogoro's mother : Ichikawa Unosuke
Ohaya, Yohe's wife : Nakamura Kaishun

 Originally written for the puppet theater, this play depicts the tragedy that so often befell commoners caught between their duty and their feelings toward their loved ones. A sumō wrestler named Nuregami Chōgorō has killed a man to save another to whom he was indebted, and takes refuge at the home of his mother whom he has not seen in years. Unfortunately, her step-child Yohē is now a local magistrate and has been ordered to arrest Chōgorō. The mother is caught in a dilemma between love for her real son and care for her stepson. Yohē realizes Chōgorō's true identity and, sympathizing with his step-mother, he lets him escape. All of these complicated conflicts are symbolized by the light and dark created by the humble skylight, as a rope is pulled to open or close a wooden shutter.


[A Female Goemon]


Ishikawaya Masagoji : Sakata Tojuro
Mashiba Hisayoshi : Kataoka Nizaemon

 This short scene, famous for its impressive dialogue and gorgeous set, is from a "jidaimono" history play set in the 16th century. This version was adapted from the play "Sanmon Gosan no Kiri" to replace the protagonist Ishikawa Goemon with a female character.
 Seated on the upper floor of the Sanmon Gate at Nanzenji Temple, the courtesan Ishikawaya Masagoji is looking at the fine scenery around her. She is in reality Princess Satsuki, the daughter of the rebel Takechi Mitsuhide who was destroyed by Mashiba Hisayoshi. Her aim has been to regain the incense burner named 'Chidori' which Hisayoshi had robbed from her father. However, as fate would have it, the man she has fallen in love with is Hisaaki, none other than her enemy Hisayoshi's son.
A wild goose comes flying to her with a letter in its beak. She realizes it is a love letter to Hisaaki from another courtesan of the same pleasure quarter. After reading the letter, she becomes distraught and is lost in thought. Just then, a man's voice calls to her from under the gate. It is a pilgrim, in reality Hisayoshi in disguise.
The performance is filled with the flavor of old-style kabuki. Be sure not to miss the amazing stage set of the gorgeous Sanmon Gate!


[Sukeroku, the Hero of Edo]


Hanakawado no Sukeroku : Ichikawa Ebizo
Agemaki, top courtesan of the Miuraya : Nakamura Jakuemon
Kanpera Monbe : Nakamura Karoku
Soga no Manko, mother of Sukeroku and Shinbe : Kataoka Hidetaro
Ikyu, the bearded gallant : Ichikawa Sadanji
Shinbe, a sweet white saké seller : Onoe Kikugoro

 This is a play filled with the leisurely atmosphere of old-style kabuki in its mixture of comedy and romance. 'Sukeroku' is a great showpiece for the top stars in kabuki. The dandy Sukeroku is the most famous patron of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters, but his reputation as the lover of the highest-ranking courtesan Agemaki is matched by his argumentative nature and his tendency to pick fights. In fact, Sukeroku is the samurai Soga no Gorō in disguise and he uses the fights as an excuse to search for a lost heirloom sword. His quest takes place amidst of the colorful spectacle that is the Yoshiwara, where the processions of beautiful courtesans compete with the splendor of cherry blossoms in full bloom.


This performance has English "G-Mark Guide" (captioning) rental service.
The "G-Mark Guide" provides essential translation of dialogue and lyrics, as well as explanations relating to the stories. Comments are carefully timed to coincide with the action on stage.
To use the G-Mark Guide you have to pay the device rent (1000 JPY) and deposit your identity card (you will get deposit receipt, for which you will get your identity card back when you return the device) at the G-Mark Guide counter.