Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater. It was founded early in the 17th century by Okuni, a shrine maiden who brought her unique and lively dance style to the dry river beds of the ancient capital of Kyoto, and over the next 300 years developed into a sophisticated, highly stylized form of theater.

Though Kabuki was created by a woman, since early on all roles have been taken by men. Men who play the roles of women are referred to as "onnagata" female role specialists. Ichimura Manjiro , an actor who actively participates in this page, is an "onnagata".

Kabuki plays and dances may be about grand historical events or the everyday life of people in the Edo period (1600-1868). For each play, though, the sets, music, costumes and other factors combine to create the fantastic world of Kabuki. We hope you enjoy exploring this page.
The shamisen is the most important instrument in Kabuki. Imported to Japan around the same time Kabuki was created, it became the main instrument for all schools of music started in the Edo period. Here Manjiro plays a short passage often used in dances that feature characters of great strength.
The tsuzumi is the central instrument around which the percussion ensemble is formed. Its distinctive "pon" is a symbol for traditional Japanese culture as a whole
The Odaiko drum is used to create various sound effects, such as the sound of rain or the wind. The fast beats used here symbolize the appearance of a ghost. Note how the eerie sound of the flute adds to the effect.
The Okawa side drum has a sharp, distinctive sound that sets it apart from the other drums with softer skins.
Usually the first sound one hears when one enters the theater is the shime daiko drum, which is used to signal the beginning and end of a performance.
First, wax is applied to the eyebrows and oil is spread on the areas where make-up is to be applied to help the make-up stick.

Oshiroi, or white face cream, is applied as a base. The shade of white depends on the role to be played: young or old, princess or commoner, or any other number of factors

Mehari, or red lines, are added to accent the eyes, and eyebrows are drawn in. The eyebrows are one of the most important aspects of expressing the role to be played. A small amount of lipstick is applied to further express the characteristics of the role.

Make-up is applied not only to create a pretty face, but is also a way for the actor to get into character. It provides a chance for the actor to actually become his role.


Make-up provides an outer expression of the heart.

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