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  • Many elements of traditional Japanese culture, such as cuisine and martial arts, are well-known throughout the world.

  • Kabuki, a form of classical theater performance, may not be as well understood in the West, but has evolved over 400 years to still maintain influence and popularity to this day.

  • The word Kabuki is derived from the Japanese verb kabuku, meaning out of the ordinary or bizarre.

  • Its history began in early 17th century Kyoto, where a shrine maiden named Izumo No Okuni would use the city's dry Kamo Riverbed as a stage to perform unusual dances for passerby,

  • who found her daring parodies of Buddhist prayers both entertaining and mesmerizing.

  • Soon other troops began performing in the same style, and Kabuki made history as Japan's first dramatic performance form catering to the common people.

  • By relying on makeup, or keshou, and facial expressions instead of masks and focusing on historical events and everyday life rather than folk tales,

  • Kabuki set itself apart from the upper-class dance theater form known as Noh, and provided a unique commentary on society during the Edo period.

  • At first, the dance was practiced only by females and commonly referred to as Onna-Kabuki.

  • It soon evolved to an ensemble performance and became a regular attraction at tea houses, drawing audiences from all social classes.

  • At this point, Onna-Kabuki was often risque, as geishas performed not only to show off their singing and dancing abilities but also to advertise their bodies to potential clients.

  • A ban by the conservative Tokugawa Shogunate in 1629 led to the emergence of Wakashu-Kabuki with young boys as actors.

  • But when this was also banned for similar reasons, there was a transition to Yaro-Kabuki, performed by men,

  • necessitating elaborate costumes and makeup for those playing female roles, or onnagata.

  • Attempts by the government to control Kabuki didn't end with bans on the gender or age of performers.

  • The Tokugawa military group, or Bakufu, was fueled by Confucian ideals and often enacted sanctions on costume fabrics, stage weaponry, and the subject matter of the plot.

  • At the same time, Kabuki became closely associated with and influenced by Bunraku, an elaborate form of puppet theater.

  • Due to these influences, the once spontaneous, one-act dance evolved into a structured, five-act play often based on the tenets of Confucian philosophy.

  • Before 1868, when the Tokugawa shogunate fell and Emperor Meiji was restored to power, Japan had practiced isolation from other countries, or Sakoku.

  • And thus, the development of Kabuki had mostly been shaped by domestic influences.

  • But even before this period, European artists, such as Claude Monet had become interested in and inspired by Japanese art, such as woodblock prints, as well as live performance.

  • After 1868, others such as Vincent van Gogh and composer Claude Debussy began to incorporate Kabuki influences in their work,

  • while Kabuki itself underwent much change and experimentation to adapt to the new modern era.

  • Like other traditional art forms, Kabuki suffered in popularity in the wake of World War II.

  • But innovation by artists such as director Tetsuji Takechi led to a resurgence shortly after.

  • Indeed, Kabuki was even considered a popular form of entertainment amongst American troops stationed in Japan, despite initial U.S. censorship of Japanese traditions.

  • Today, Kabuki still lives on as an integral part of Japan's rich cultural heritage, extending its influence beyond the stage to television, film, and anime.

  • The art form pioneered by Okuni continues to delight audiences with the actors' elaborate makeup, extravagant and delicately embroidered costumes, and the unmistakable melodrama of the stories told on stage.

Many elements of traditional Japanese culture, such as cuisine and martial arts, are well-known throughout the world.

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B2 US TED-Ed form tokugawa elaborate japanese evolved

【TED-Ed】Kabuki: The people's dramatic art - Amanda Mattes

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    阿多賓 posted on 2020/12/19
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