Kabuki is a form of drama that incorporates the elements of storytelling, dance and acting in a very beautiful and refined manner. It’s one of japan’s oldest cultural heritages. It’s a form of art that is enjoyed by all classes of Japanese society.
Although the language spoken may be hard to understand by most, even the natives, their visual performance is mesmerizing.
Ever since the inception of kabuki, it has captured the attention of thousands of people. During the Edo period, the only form of drama available was Noh and even that was only for the rich. Kabuki, on the other hand, was for the masses. It differentiated itself from all other forms of Japanese drama, by the performance of unique plays. Plays and dramas which incorporated elements of modern society, social problems of the time and the political climate.
Today we are going to be discussing the origin and history of this spectacular form of art.
Origin of kabuki:
Kabuki is by no means a new art form, its centuries old possibly 1603. It can all be traced back to as early as the 16th century to a shrine maiden named Izumo no okuni. Izumo was known for performing unusual and never before seen dances sometimes even mocking or parodying Buddhist prayers. She would use the dry river bed of the Kamo river in Kyoto as a platform for her performances.
The steep incline, and somewhat deep river bed gave the appearance of a stage. People really started enjoying her dances as it was different from anything else that they had seen.
These amazing art styles are further fueled by using the best kabuki masks
Soon this act of solo dancing transitioned to a more group dance, where women would dance in tea huts. At this point in time kabuki was known as Onna-kabuki. However, once the conservative government of the time realized that kabuki was being used as a source of prostitute advertisement by the geisha’s it soon banned all women from performing kabuki.
Later Onna-kabuki transformed into wakashu-kabuki a form of kabuki played by young men. Young men were preferred since they could apply makeup and crossdress to look like women. However, the government faced the same problems with wakashu kabuki as well. The young men were doing the exact same things the women did. Sometimes during these plays, the audience would get rowdy and wouldn’t let the play continue if a young handsome actor appeared.
The government now placed another ban on kabuki. This time prohibiting any actors under a certain age to perform in this style of art.
These days kabuki is still as lively as ever. With people coming from all over the world to enjoy the spectacular performance of the actors. Even after numerous challenges, kabuki still continues to thrive and remain relevant in this advancing age.