The Japan Foundation, Mexico
In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Japan-Mexico relation, the Japan Foundation hosts "Kabuki: Encounter with the Tradition of 400 Years" in Monterrey on October 8 and in Mexico City on October 12-13. It was the first Kabuki performance ever held in Monterrey, and the first in 22 years in Mexico City since 1988.
Produced by Shochiku, the Kabuki troop of 19 members was invited to Mexico, including three Kabuki actors (Kyozo Nakamura, Matanosuke Nakamura, and Kinosuke Ichikawa), three Nagauta singers, three shamisen players, four Narimono musicians, and staff.
Among a vast repertoire of Kabuki, "Sagimusume" and "Shakkyo" were performed. The audience enjoyed to their hearts' content the quintessence of Kabuki dance; quiet and graceful, or vigorous and soul-stirring. These were definitely precious opportunities for people in Mexico to see Kabuki performances.
To make the performances more enjoyable for those who saw Kabuki for the first time, short lectures and demonstrations were also provided to learn about Kabuki, such as its history, music, actions of Onnagata (female roles), and costumes and makeup of Tachiyaku (male roles).
In the lecture and demonstration of music, the audience seemed to be surprised at some conventions of sound in Kabuki; for example, a type of drum beats that sounded like heart beats actually depicted the sound of snow.
In the demonstration of Kabuki actions, the audience experienced how to weep as Onnagata with Kyozo Nakamura and how to strike a pose (mie wo kiru) as Tachiyaku with Matanosuke Nakamura. They experienced the spirit of Kabuki with their own bodies.
The relationship between Mexico and Japan started 400 years ago, and it is a startling coincidence that Kabuki also has the history of 400 years. Kabuki has been handed down from generation to generation to flourish, just like the friendship between two countries has been, and now it gave an opportunity for people in Mexico and from Japan to encounter and open the new chapter of their friendship.