abuki Theater


March 27 - May 10, 2010

Japanese flag

Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom

On our very first visit to Japan in 1978 (this was Jan's fourth visit and Gerry's third), we took time out to attend the famous Kabuki theater on the Ginza in Tokyo and were determined to repeat the experience as it had stayed with us so vividly for all these years. Kabuki is derived from the Noh drama, but is much more folksy and lively and much more visual.

Once we had our bicycles and were in good enough shape for a longish ride across town, we headed out to Ginza to find out how to buy tickets for a performance. Or rather, for part of a performance. A Kabuki performance lasts all day. Usually it is divided into several acts, but sometimes the acts are excerpts from different plays, so it is not always easy to figure things out. We didn't think we had the stamina for an entire performance and wanted only to attend one part. We learned on this visit that to get seats for just a part of the performance, you have to stand in line on the day of the performance and you get to sit in the top circle of the theater, so as not to disturb the other patrons, who pay lots of money for the better seats. That was fine by us. We found out there was a performance the next day and we were determined to be there.

We got up at 6:30 and were out of the house by 7 and at the theater by 7:30, meaning that we were about eighth in line. The wait was pretty chilly, but thankfully we were under cover because it started to rain soon after we arrived and rained throughout the day. Being the earliest arrivals,, we also were happy to learn that they put out two wooden benches for the early birds and so I got to sit comfortably for most of the three hour wait. Gerry had found a stone ledge nearby and only joined me half an hour before the ticket office opened.

The seating was first come first served, so we got front row seats, albeit in the highest balcony way in the back of the theater. It didn't matter. We were only there to get a flavor of the thing and only bought tickets for one act. We had brought bananas and bread with us for breakfast and I walked over to a convenience store and bought us second breakfasts/lunch which easily saw us through the show, which lasted until 1:30. The show was colorful and interesting even though we were both nodding off at times having got up so early and finding ourselves in a warm, dark theater. It was hard to follow the story, but later on we got a brochure with an outline and all became clear. It was rather gruesome, with a father presenting the head of his son to his lord and master. Sort of Abraham and Isaac Japanese-style.

January 23, 2011