Japanese Language Blog

Traditional Japanese Theater Posted by on Aug 22, 2010 in Culture

Traditional Japanese theater is elaborate, interesting, and a feast for the eyes. I would recommend seeing at least one traditional Japanese performance out of the three main forms of traditional Japanese theater.

Nō () is a type of theater where actors usually wear a mask that depicts an emotion or expression. The actors perform with musicians who play traditional Japanese instruments. A nō performance is supposed to be spontaneous and not rehearsed. Therefore the actors and the musicians have to be at the top of their game to perform.

Kabuki (歌舞伎) is a form of theater where actors wear heavy white makeup and perform on a wide stage. Unlike nō, kabuki isn’t just a form of formalized dance sequences. In Kabuki, there are a lot of stage entrances and exits, with hidden trap doors and elaborate lighting effects.

Bunraku () is a term referring to Japanese puppet theater. The puppet is usually 2-4 feet tall and is controlled by more than one puppet master. One puppeteer controls the right hand of the puppet and the other puppeteer controls the right side of the puppet.

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