|Onoe Matsuya as Soga Gorō. (Photo: Shinoyama Kishin.)|
The cover for the March (#3) 2021 issue of ENGEKIKAI, the kabuki magazine of record, shows Onoe Matsuya as Soga Gorō in the celebratory Meiji-period dance KOTOBUKI TE HANAGATA HASHIRA DATE. The word hashiradate refers to the old custom of performing a ceremony to celebrate the first raising of a pillar during the construction of a new home. It was performed at Tokyo’s Kabuki-za in February. Soga Gorō is a historically-based hero who has attained mythical power in Japanese history—and especially in kabuki—because of a famous vendetta he and his brother Jūrō carried out in the twelfth century.
The issue’s leading contents (there are others), listed on the cover, are dominated by the headline at the upper left, meaning the First Show of the Year. This refers to a gorgeous section of color photos of all the major plays given in February at the Kabuki-za, the National Theatre (Kokuritsu Gekijō), the Shinbashi Enbujō, and Osaka’s Shōchiku-za. At the lower right is listed a section on the haiku poems of famous actors. At the center, bottom, are the names of four actors who offer their thoughts on February’s memorial production honoring the death thirty-three years ago of the great star Nakamura Kanzaburō XVII. To its left is the title of a section about an independently produced dance recital featuring Onoe Ukon and his Ken no Kai group. Finally, there’s a discussion between two stars, Matsumoto Kōshirō X and Ichikawa Ennosuke IV about “Zoom Kabuki.” Yes. Zoom is part of Japan’s theatre scene as well.