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[Thematic Exhibition] “Dynamic Kabuki — Are Kabuki actors athletes!?”

In the Edo period in Japan — an extraordinarily peaceful time rarely seen in world history — the people created various kinds of popular culture. Edo's ordinary people enjoyed entertainment such as Misemono (spectacle shows) and Yose (traditional vaudeville performances) but it was Kabuki in particular that garnered the most popularity.

With gorgeous costumes, surprising stage sets, and a wide variety of dancing and acted stories, including period pieces and everyday dramas, the painstakingly thorough commitment to attract audiences elevated Kabuki to the level of major entertainment. Among all these elements, the brilliant and beautiful expressions created by the actors’ highly trained bodies especially captivated the audience.

While Kabuki flourished in the Edo period — a time without the modern notion of sports — the art of Kabuki included most of the fundamental forms of exercise seen in sports today. In other words, Kabuki actors acquired athletic ability almost equivalent to that of athletes, and used it in performing dynamic acts to continuously entertain audiences.

Taking the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as a starting point, this exhibition introduces many staging acts that require advanced athletic abilities from among the various Kabuki expressions passed down as Japan’s traditional arts. These highly athletic performances, including roppo (dynamic walking), mie (powerful poses), tachimawari (fight movements), hayagawari (quick changes), and chunori (midair acts), are introduced through nishiki-e paintings, photographic records of performances, costumes, props, and other documents.

I hope this exhibition provides an opportunity to enjoy the appeal of Kabuki from a sporting perspective.

Supervised by Hironori Tanigama (Professor of Law at Toyo University)

Dates June 2 (Wed) - September 21 (Tue), 2021
Hours 10:00-18:00
Closed July 1 (Thu)
Venue Information Exhibition room (first floor)
Visitor restriction Up to 25 people
Supervised by Hironori Tanigama (Professor of Law at Toyo University)
※Admission Free