New Kabukiza Theater in Tokyo Shown

The new Kabukiza theater in Tokyo was shown to the media on Sunday. Reporters saw the stage equipment, dressing rooms and the rehearsal space.

The stage is still the same size. The theater has an extra lift that is large enough to carry the Kabuki actors and props for scenery changes.

Newcomers to Kabuki can use a tablet computer to read the actors’ lines and background information about the plays.

A group of Kabuki actors will parade through Ginza’s main street on Wednesday. The new Kabukiza will officially open on April 2nd.

Japan’s Renewed Kabuki-za Theater in Ginza Lights Up

Lights began to shine on Tokyo’s celebrated home of traditional kabuki theater on Thursday, as the renovated venue prepares to raise the curtains on a new era.

The new Kabuki-za theater, part of a 29-story office building in the upscale Ginza shopping district, has now started an evening illumination program ahead of its April opening.

The theater occupies the bottom floors of the tower, retaining some elements of the original facade, which evokes medieval Japanese castles and temples with its curved roofs and red paper lanterns.

Standing 145 meters (470 feet) high, the new skyscraper is the tallest building in the area. Overlooking an eastern section of the Japanese capital, the summit of Mount Fuji can be seen on clear days.

Leading Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Danjuro Dies at 66

Leading Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjuro died late Sunday of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital according to his son, Ichikawa Ebizo. Speaking to reporters in front of his father’s home in Tokyo on Monday morning, Ebizo described Danjuro as a man “who cared about people around him before caring about himself. He was a person of great love.”

He had been recuperating from pneumonia but his condition became critical in mid-January. He was 66.

Danjuro, whose real name was Natsuo Horikoshi, was born in Tokyo as the first son of Ichikawa Danjuro XI. He made his debut in 1953 at age 7.

Danjuro is a stage name taken on by kabuki actors of the Ichikawa family, and is considered the most prestigious of the kabuki stage names. Most members of the family have been blood relatives, although some were adopted.

Recognized for his outstanding theatrical skills, Danjuro won fame for his performances as a “tachiyaku” male actor together with “onnagata” female impersonator Bando Tamasaburo.

Danjuro also contributed to boosting the popularity of kabuki by giving grand name-succession celebrations, including a series of performances at the Kabuki-za Theater in Tokyo that ran for three months, an unusually long period for such celebrations. He is also the only kabuki actor to have given shumei performances abroad, staging them in U.S. cities such as New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

He was popular for his grand and expansive style of acting and successful performance of a number of roles that the line of Danjuro specializes in, such as Benkei in the play “Kanjincho” in the Kabuki Juhachiban (The Kabuki Eighteen), a series of plays which showcase the specialties of the Ichikawa family.

Danjuro was also and actor outside of kabuki. He appeared in period TV dramas and theatrical plays throughout his career.

Danjuro received many awards including an award from the Japan Art Academy, the highest-ranking arts organization in Japan, in 1988 and the Medal with Purple Ribbon, a Japanese government award given to people who have made outstanding contributions in academic fields, sports and the arts, in May 2007.

Kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon designated as national treasure

The Cultural Affairs Council recommended Friday that the government designate veteran Kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon, 67, as a so-called living national treasure.

The panel of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry also recommended Kishun Nishie, a 70-year-old singer and player of the sanshin musical instrument for the Okinawan traditional arts, as a living national treasure.

Read the rest of the story: Kabuki actor Nakamura Kichiemon designated as national treasure.

Ichikawa Ebizo, Kobayashi Mao to be parents

Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo (33) and freelance announcer Kobayashi Mao (28) are preparing for a new addition to their family. According to a source close to the couple, Kobayashi is five months pregnant with their first child.

Ichikawa and Kobayashi got married in March 2010, and they held their wedding ceremony last July. That month may become even more special for them, as Kobayashi is expected to give birth in July.

In addition, both Kobayashi and her sister Maya (31), also a freelance announcer, were born in July.