Celebrate Japan: Bando Tamasaburo

Bando Tamasaburo is an onnagata, a kabuki actor specializing in female roles. For several years in the mid to late 80s, I used to go to the Kabuki-za in Ginza at least every other month, if not more often, to see the half-day performances, which lasted 3 to 4 hours and included a dance and two plays, or one longer play. I even had a favorite seat on the aisle so I could stretch my legs. The theatre was built in the early 1920s and the seating was really uncomfortable for anyone with legs!

At the time, Bando Tamasaburo was the superstar and he was (still is) beautiful. Here he is performing the Heron Maiden dance. There’s a voice-over in English explaining the dance.

If you made it this far, do watch the second part of the video where the dance changes dramatically (for Japanese classical dance, that is).

If you found this slow, try some Noh!

I stopped going to the Kabuki-za because one day I felt something crawling on my hand and when I glanced down to brush it off, I realized it was a cockroach. I’m very freaked out about contact with Asian cockroaches, and I couldn’t go to that theatre anymore after that. Sad but true.

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