chapter  20
32 Pages

Kabuki as National Culture: A Critical Survey of Japanese Kabuki Scholarship

While hindsight may justify the conclusion that the Meiji period marks the beginning of the end of kabuki as a vibrant living theatre, during the period itself kabuki continued to thrive and even reached a historical high point of sorts during the mid-Meiji years when the "Dan-Kiku-Sa" trio (Ichikawa Danjuro IX [1839-1903], Onoe Kikugoro V [1844--1903], and Ichikawa Sadanji I [1 842-1904]) reigned on the stage. This is not to say that these three actors were untouched by the forced end to Japan's seclusion policy and the subsequent wave of modernization that swept early Meiji Japan; indeed, each in his own way tried to make kabuki more compatible with the times. Although toward the end of their careers Danjuro and Kikugoro turned back to the classics, their experiments arguably left a permanent mark on kabuki.1