chapter  6
24 Pages

Rowers of Edo: Eighteenth-Century Kabuki and Its Patrons

The Edo period was in some ways like our own in the flood of information available to people at many levels of society. This chapter examines the play Shibaraku, an example par excellence of Edo-style kabuki. Shibaraku is a kabuki play that was performed annually throughout most of the Tokugawa period; it provides one of the most popular and representative opportunities for display of Edo-style kabuki. The chapter focuses on the tsurane, or introduction speech, of the main character as a way to understand the 'social energy' encoded in this play and the intense appeal it has always carried for audiences. The chapter explores tsurane communicating functions are much more complex than the simple circulation of information. It also seeks explanations in dramatic, literary, and social contexts. Hattori Yukio explains the phenomenon as follows: The tsurane delivered by Ichikawa Danjuro during the Shibaraku scene of the kaomise was presented as though written by Danjuro himself.