in Life in Japan

The history of Kabuki began in 1603 when Okuni of Izumo began performing dance drama on the dry riverbeds of Kyoto. Female performers played both men and women in comic play mimicking ordinary life. Kabuki theater is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-ups.


This new style of drama was instantly popular and Okuni was even asked to perform before the Imperial Court. During 1670-1840, kabuki thrived. The structure of a kabuki play was formalized during this period, as were many elements of stylization. Conventional character types were also determined.

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