Kabuki- The Classical Art

Kabuki (歌舞伎) is an old classical Japanese on stage dance-drama. In Kabuki, facial expression and makeup is the most important aspects. Kabuki is used to be a medium to convey the stories and other classical tales.

It is believed that kabuki is started in 1603AD during those days mostly the kabuki artist where women. But today most of the kabuki actors are male, though the art was first played by a woman. Many believe that kabuki was started by Shinto priestess Izumo no Okuni in the early 1600s in various locations of Kyoto and also on the dry riverbed of Kamo. She formed a group in which local misfits and prostitutes participated, she used to instruct them with songs and dances. The women's used to portray both male and female characters and used to show day today's life the kabuki is called as onna-kabuki which literally means woman’s kabuki. Soon this became more popular among the people in Japan in the form of entertainment and immensely popular in the rest of Japan.   

In those days Kabuki became more common in the red-light areas and people used to associate with prostitution and sometimes they were asked to perform as a service to spectators. After that due to social issues and prohibition the performance of women was banned later on it is passed to the young boys but the young boys were also in the part of prostitution they too were banned from the Kabuki. Finally, it was passed to adult men performing Kabuki for Both men and women characters. In those days most of the Kabuki spectators were rowdy and common people won’t use to go. It took so many years to evolve into the formalized Kabuki and everyone can enjoy it.

The 18th century became a golden age of kabuki history. The whole performance structure was formalized, the establishment of new things happened which totally took the Kabuki into the next level. In this era, kabuki has got recognition amongst the greatest and most famous Japanese arts. Kabuki is recognized by three major classical performing arts of Japan which are noh and bunraku and got placed in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

So next comes what does the kabuki conveys there are mainly three types of kabuki play they are Jidaimono (early historical and legendary stories), Sewamono (contemporary tales post) and Shosagoto (dance dramas) where the Kabuki artists perform.

Since Japan has many religious and moral believes from Shintoism, Buddhism the most performances convey the qualities like devotion to elders and other communities. One of the kabuki’s most popular dramatic themes which shows the fight between morality and human emotions. Sometime Kabuki dramas include some educational elements to provoke thought and make others focus on different kinds of situations comes to life.

There are many key elements in kabuki to perform the song, dance, costumes, performance techniques, makeup, stage decorations and of course the participation of the audience all together make the Kabuki success. The music is created on stage by both singers and Japanese musical instruments sometimes the musicians are behind the stage allowing the kabuki performers more stage place to perform. Dance is the part of every kabuki artist they combine both song and dance together to perform kabuki dance is almost like different gestures moving their hands and body. Since the kabuki is used to convey the old historical stories, different kinds of Kimono’s are used as costumes combined with different woven wigs which are made by the artist. Next comes the important part makeup which is known as “kesho”, with the proper makeup one can assume the character of the Kabuki artist. There are some colour indications in makeup red conveys the meaning of anger and passion whereas blue represents evil or sadness.