Okuni - Statue by the Kamo River in Kyoto
Originator of a 'new' dance style called Kabuki

About 400 years ago, in the Edo period. Izumo Okuni began to dance in a more popular style in Kyoto. Eventually she started her own dance company. The style of dance was called Kabuki, and Kabuki theater became more the popular entertainment rather than Noh theater.
In the beginning, women took all the parts. However as time went on, dancers - who performed along the river banks - also 'sold' their services after the shows, and performances were also sometimes held in brothels. The dances were also highly provocative.
For this reason, the emperor forbade women from performing the dances, because it was considered a threat to public morals. Men took both the male and female parts.

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Shochiku (Kabuki production company) logo on banner and lantern outside Minamiza.
From November 30-December 26 is the month of Kaomise at the Minamiza Theatre. It brings together some of the top start to perform some popular titles.
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Minamiza Kabuki theatre in Kyoto, Japan
Kaomise means "face showing" and celebrates the beginning of a new season and its stars.
Information for about Kabuki, and even how to purchase tickets for performances from outside Japan see http://www.kabuki-bito.jp/eng/top.html
In Tokyo during April, the Ginza Kabukiza had a one year anniversary of it's reopening after three years of reconstruction. More information about that and the special all star cast can be found on Shochiku's website.
Look under news.

If you've ever wondered about what stories are told in Kabuki Theatre, here are some of them:
You may be surprised to find that the themes of the stories are very familiar, because human emotions are the same no matter where you go!

News article from pervious year's Kaomise

Here's a news article from a prior Kaomise. Calligrapher Mr. Masaru is creating the signboards which will be displayed. He is currently working on the new ones for this year.

MORE about Shochiku: Begining in 1895 with Takejiro Otani's first stage play presentation, the company now has expanded into kabuki, motion pictures, and theater operation. It's continuing development efforts in various fields including theatre, movies, television, etc. Their purpose is to promote culture and entertainment domestically and internationally.