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Kabuki, with Kids! (by Valerie Sawatzky)

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There is nothing quite like firsthand experiences to leave an impression on young minds. With this in mind, one troop of Overseas Girl Scouts earned their Asian Cultures badges by attending a performance of Kabuki. Why Kabuki? “I chose Kabuki thinking the girls (ages 10 and 11) are now old enough, and I wanted them to have a wonderful Japanese theater experience,” explained Troop Leader, Teresa Levy.

The kids found the action (a combination of drama and dance) to be a bit “slow” at times, but enjoyed the elaborate stage settings, and some impressive tumbling in the battle scene. If the story was a bit difficult to follow (even with English headsets), it was balanced out by the novel concept that eating is encouraged in this “fancy” theater!

The kids had plenty of questions, and the excellent English brochures had all the answers:

“Why do Japanese people need headsets if the play is in Japanese?”

Well, not only is the language old (Kabuki was developed in Edo times), but each stylized movement is symbolic. The narration explains the detailed plot as it unfolds.

“Are the people yelling out from the audience part of the show?”

No, these appreciative shouts, (called Kakegoe in Japanese) are from serious followers of Kabuki who know exactly when to call out the “Yago” (House Name) of their favorite actor as he strikes a dramatic pose. The kids really enjoyed this exciting element of audience interaction.

For this young group, seeing a live Kabuki performance in the famous historic setting of the Kabuki-za was definitely a cultural learning experience, and will be a special memory from their years in Japan. (English)

Tickets go on sale the 2nd week of each month for following month’s program.
English headset recommended.

Kabuki-za Theater: Exit A3, Higashi Ginza Station.