Monday, 23 June 2014

My First Kabuki Show!

Sometime back, I blogged about 船乗り込み (funanorikomi) and mentioned that I was excited to watch my first Kabuki show. Well, yesterday was the day! Thanks to KUFSA (Kyushu University Foreign Students Association), I got to watch 劇団やまもも (gekidan yamamomo - Yamamomo acting troupe) for free at 那珂川 (Nakagawa).

Before the show. 
Once we arrived, we we brought to a room where they had some snacks and drinks for us. There, they gave us a brief summary of the play (in both English and Japanese) and chose the people who'd give flowers to the actors later.

Guess who volunteered?
We also received our tickets then ^^
Ticket and flyer/summary
Here's a slightly clearer view of the flyer. 

The show was divided into two parts. Part one featured traditional Japanese dances and songs.
Pre-show excitement! 
 Sorry for the really small pictures >< I wasn't sitting very close to the front.

Traditional song and dance
 The 'highlight' of the first part was this lady, who was the guest star. She sang three songs, and while they weren't normal Jpop, they were actually really nice.

I found one of her songs on Youtube!

These type of songs are probably not going to be on my regular play list, but it's nice to hear a new genre now and then.

Part two was the actual play. The play is called 瞼の母 (Mabuta no haha). I'll be telling the plot alongside the pictures, but for a full version of the story, I found this webpage. Click on the link to read the story in detail.

The story starts with Hanjiro, as he runs away from some bad people. Unfortunately, they come after him.

The three gangsters and Hanjiro (with his mother and sister)
 When it seems like all hope is lost, his friend (and protagonist of this play) Chuutaro comes and fights the three robbers.
Fighting under the sakura tree
And he ends up killing one of them. He writes a letter to take the blame and leaves, giving Hanjiro a second chance at life. 

The guy on the left is super funny! 
One year later, in Edo (Tokyo), Chuutaro finally finds his mom, the owner of a place called mizukuma.

 Unfortunately, she denies that he is her son and makes him leave, never to return. After that though, she regrets it, and with her daughter, goes to search for Chuutaro.

However, some of the bad people from earlier one lie in wait for Chuutaro, and after a fight, he kills both of them.

Can you see him hiding?
So when his mother and sister come looking for him, he hides behind some reeds. When they leave, he goes away all by himself.

Despite this story having a sad ending, it was actually pretty humorous. The actors had some funny lines and the audience burst into laughter quite a few times. In fact, we were laughing even before the play started. You see, the play starts with a song, which ends with a very dramatic おっ母さん (okkaasan). Almost immediately after, the entire audience heard a little kid mimic okkaasan and everyone burst into laughter (there were actually quite a few kids there).

After the whole show, it was time to give the actors flowers!

I think almost all of them got at least one bouquet. 
And after the show, the actors went outside to talk to the us. It was really fun, and I got to take a photo with the actor I gave the flowers to!

The actors were really nice to all us students, and other students even got to try on the headpieces and play with the sword.

My friend and the actress that plays Chuutaro's sister. She's so pretty! 
The actors did a great job too! They're amateur actors, but they spent three months rehearsing. And they rehearsed every night! I actually thought they were professionals because they conveyed their emotions to the audience very well.

Although the Japanese was pretty difficult (I understood maybe half of it?), I somehow understood and enjoyed the play, thanks to the summary and an introduction before each scene. I don't know if this is the same for all kabuki plays, but it was a lot more accessible than I expected. This was a really fun experience(:

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