Saturday, October 3, 2009
Boasting a lot of greasepaint, big hair, and some frightening, exaggerated facial expressions – not to mention specific choreography and minimal music to score the whole caboodle – it’s no wonder that some young Japanese think of kabuki as an old fashioned, unintelligible art form that needs a good dust-down after four centuries on the go – just like Shakespeare.
Yet it’s remained remarkably durable, and has in fact made a comeback in recent years that culminated in its nomination by UNESCO in 2005 as one of the “43 Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
Here in Tokyo, kabuki performances take place on a daily basis at the Kabuki-za theater in Ginza, a historic location first built in 1889 but consecutively destroyed by fire, earthquake and Allied bombing.
The current building, a reconstruction built after WWII, has been rendered in a Japanese baroque style that looks gorgeous, and is itself another reason to attend one of these vital Japanese cultural performances.
Word has it that this building too is fated to be destroyed, next time by a wrecking ball in the next year or so.