Kabuki: Super Star “Kikunosuke” in Delhi First Kabuki performance in 40 years; Collaboration between Kabuki and Kathakali

On 20 August, the Embassy of Japan hosted a special “Kabuki” performance by Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke, well known as the super star of “Kabuki” in Japan. This is the first “Kabuki” performance produced by Shochiku in India in 40 years since the previous one was held in March 1977 at Kamani Auditorium.
Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke performed “Kanegamisaki”, a masterpiece depicting a lady in love, in an emotional and elegant way, which fascinated the eminent Indian guests invited to witness the performance.
“Kabuki” is one of Japan’s traditional theatre forms, originated in 17th century, the era known as the peaceful Edo-period, when unprecedented series of economic and cultural developments took place. “Kabuki” represents Japanese sense of beauty, and was inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke was born as the eldest son of Onoe Kikugoro, a renowned Kabuki actor in Japan, on August 1, 1977, the year of the last “Kabuki” performance in India. Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke is highly admired for his enactment of both onnagata (female role) and tachiyaku (leading male role) in major characters of traditional “Kabuki” performances, as well as of the new style of Kabuki, such as the adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night, or What You Will”. The play was widely acclaimed not only in Japan but also in London, in 2009.
Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke is currently working on his next venture, “Kabuki” adaptation of MAHABHARATA, which is to be performed at Kabuki-za theatre in Tokyo this coming October. He visited Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand to get a deeper understanding of Indian culture during his stay in India. His first encounter with Kathakali impressed Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke very much, and he feels that “the origin of “Kabuki” might be in Kathakali” as they have a lot of similarities.
Ambassador Hiramatsu hosted this performance and, in his remarks on the occasion, described “Kabuki as a ‘living culture’. He also added, “While it reflects our society and changing trends and fashions on the one hand; on the other hand, it reminds us of the deep human nature, which is unchangeable over time and can be shared universally across borders. I sincerely hope that the performances this evening will shed a new light on Japanese culture and traditions, and awaken your interest in the Japanese traditional art.”
After the performance on 20 August, Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke expressed his wish that, “I hope the cultural interaction between India and Japan flourishes from now, and Kabuki plays a role to bridge the relationship between India and Japan.”

Onoe Kikunosuke enacting the character of Kiyohime in KANEGAMISAKI
Photo by Takashi Kato (Photo courtesy: Shochiku) 

(Front row, from left): Mr. Tachibana, MD of Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Ashwani Kumar, Former Law Minister, Ambassador Hiramatsu and Mrs. Hiramatsu, Mr. Katagiri, GM, All Nippon Airways, Mumbai Office
(Back row, from left): members of International Centre for Kathakali, Mr. Onoe Kikunosuke, Mr. Fujii, and Ms. Kawase, leading singers and performers of Japanese traditional instruments                                          
Photo by Takashi Kato  (Photo courtesy: Shochiku)

Onoe Kikunosuke
Photo by Takashi Kato  (Photo courtesy: Shochiku)