Star of Kabuki barred for brawl

A star of traditional Japanese theater who called in sick, then went out drinking and ended up brawling in a bar apologized Tuesday for the scandal that has embarrassed the rarefied world of Kabuki.

Ebizo Ichikawa, 33, known as the "prince" of Kabuki, gave a televised news conference Tuesday hours after leaving a Tokyo hospital where he was treated for the facial injury sustained in the fracas that has riveted the nation for almost two weeks.

Originating in the 1600s, Kabuki is a stylized all-male theater that combines music, dance and acting to tell stories about samurai vendettas, love suicides and everyday city-life in performances that use outlandish facial makeup and elaborate costumes.

Although the audience still tends to be elderly, young performers like Ichikawa have revived interest in Kabuki in recent years by tackling TV shows and other works outside their genre.

Ichikawa, from one of the most respected kabuki families, has won fans with his telegenic look and powerful performance at home and abroad, including France, the U.S. and Australia.

But Ichikawa has been suspended indefinitely from performing Kabuki by theater operator Shochiku Co. following the incident at a celebrity bar in a ritzy Tokyo neighborhood on Nov. 25. He had been out drinking after skipping a daytime media event, citing health reasons.

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