FRI has its offices in the streets of Shibuya, and for 3 years now we have been giving our support to “Densho Hall Terakoya”, located near us and sponsored by Shibuya ward. Their activities aim to transmit traditional Japanese performance art to young children. On the 27th of November of this year, one of Densho Hall Terakoya’s customary events took place, the Kabuki Dance 2016 “Shibuya Konnoumaru Densetsu”, and we will now share our impressions.
This marks the 7th time their main stage has been used, and the story told was that of Shibuya’s legendary hero, Konnoumaru, who helped develop the Shibuya area. It starred popular kabuki actor Somegoro Ichikawa (*1) and was performed in the new style of performance art known as Kabuki Dance.
Ever since the Edo Period, Kabuki has been a form of traditional performance art which is popular among the masses because it satirizes the events of its time in new, original ways. And the word “original” is especially appropriate for this play.
The characters in this play aren’t only Konnoumaru and Minamoto no Yoshitsune. In fact, one of the most popular characters from Tsuburaya Productions (whose main offices are in Shibuya ward), Kaiju Booska (*2) also makes an appearance. Furthermore, there is even a dance with PPAP (Piko-taro), who has recently become famous all over the world. Mr. Somegoro stated that he wanted to “create something new which was founded on very basic dance moves, such as moving your body to the rhythm”. And just as he said, this play breaks new ground for Kabuki as an art form.
Booska showed great coordination alongside Konnoumaru in this Kabuki Dance
Even the famous PPAP was included in this Kabuki Dance
This new form of kabuki dance, which is uniquely different from classic kabuki, pleased children who have never seen any kabuki, as well as adults who have a more refined sensibility. Everyone was clapping their hands together to the rhythm, and seeing such a lively audience really made us think about how deeply the Japanese love to dance.
(*1) Somegoro Ichikawa (1973 – )
A kabuki actor who is very influential in Japan. He has mostly performed in classic kabuki, but is also very enthusiastic about new forms of kabuki. He has played many kinds of roles, from the heroic protagonist to the evil villain, as well as female characters. He also performs in contemporary theater, such as with the Shinkansen Theatrical Company and others. His performance of Koi-Tsukami (“Fight with a Carp”) in Las Vegas last year managed to gather an audience of 100,000 people, and became very popular.
The Koi-Tsukami performance in Las Vegas (Youtube)
(*2) Kaiju Booska (televised during 1966-1967)
He was a friendly monster who appeared in a live-action TV show produced by Tsuburaya Productions. Episodes such as “Basara basara” or “Shioshio no paa” were a great hit among children at that time.
Information about every Kaiju Booska episode (TOKYO MX)
From the left: Mr. Suzuki, the producer, Mr. Hasebe, head of the ward, Kaiju Booska, Mr. Somegoro. Topics of discussion ranged from “cultural policies in Shibuya ward” to “what’s your favorite flavor of Ramen noodles”
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.