Tsukiji district Kabuki tsuji

. Famous Places and Powerspots of Edo 江戸の名所 .
Tsukiji 築地 and Kabuki    
and tsuiji 築地 fences

The name Tsukiji is mostly associated now with the fish market.
. Tsukiji Fish Market 築地市場 . - Chuo ward
Nihonbashi Uogashi 日本橋魚河岸 
Shrine Tsukiji Namiyoke Inari Jinja 波除稲荷神社 "protection from waves"
The fish market of Edo in Nihonbashi was moved to Tsukiji after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.
and recently
Toyosu Food Market 豊洲市場 “Toyosu Shin Shijo”
and its problems since Autumn of 2016.

Here we are concerned with another aspect of the district - Kabuki Theater 歌舞伎.


- quote
Tsukiji - Visit to a Kabuki Theater
There are many different types of entertainment in Edo, appealing to people of all sorts of tastes and classes. In addition to the frequent festivals at local temples or shrines, those who enjoy sports can often take in a horse race or a sumo tournament. Those who enjoy more sedate forms of entertainment may go to a musical performance, or go to see the professional comedians at rakugo (comedy story) theaters. Wealthy samurai and even some merchants will often take in a performance of noh -- an ancient and "high-class" type of drama. However, for most of the people in Edo, the most popular form of evening entertainment is the popular theater -- kabuki drama.

The main kabuki theaters in Edo are located in the Tsukiji neighborhood. This form of drama is extremely popular with the lower classes, and wealthy merchants often contribute large amounts of money to help support companies of kabuki actors. Almost everyone in Edo knows the names of the most famous actors, and some famous artists have published books of pictures showing the top kabuki actors dressed in their gaudy and colorful costumes. In the early years of the Edo shogunate, kabuki drama was viewed as vulgar and a corrupting influence. For that reason, samurai were forbidden to attend. Although the rules are still officially in effect, nowadays kabuki has become popular with all classes, though high-ranking samurai will usually wear a disguise if they attend a public performance.

The top kabuki theaters are all located in an area near the Nishi Honganji temple.

- Utagawa Hiroshige - Nishi-Honganji
This temple is a branch of the Nishi Honganji temple in Kyoto, a very old and powerful temple, the headquarters of the Jodo ("pure land") sect of Buddhism. The temple is very important and powerful, with close connections to the family of the Emperor. Even this branch temple in Edo is a huge and imposing building. It is one of the few large temples left in the center of the city. The others all moved to the suburbs after the great Meireki Fire, in 1656. The main hall of the temple towers above the roofs of all the surrounding buildings, and it can be seen from far away. Boats sailing into Edo Bay even use it as a landmark to tell what direction to sail as they approach the city.

The neighborhood surrounding the temple is a crowded, bustling clutter of row houses, small shops, piers and warehouses. Tsukiji is home to most of the dockworkers and boat pilots who transport goods throughout the city. Apart from the Fukagawa neighborhood, on the opposite bank of the Sumida River, Tsukiji is the most "blue-collar" district in the city. Since this area is a center of the shomin (working-class people) in Edo, it is no surprise that it also is the headquarters of most kabuki groups.

Several different kabuki acting companies operate theaters in the Tsukiji area. Kabuki acting is a closed profession -- only members of certain families can become actors. Although there are several minor families, the four main family names in kabuki acting are Nakamura, Ichikawa, Ichimura and Onoe. All of the actors in kabuki dramas are men. The female parts in the dramas are played by actors called onnagata, who specialize in women's roles. The onnagata ("woman-style actor") spend their entire lives practicing to act and speak like women. Some of them even insist on wearing women's clothes when they are not on stage, so they will become used to behaving like a woman all the time. This training is very effective -- when you see them on stage, it is hard to tell that the onnagata are really men.

Originally, many -- if not most -- of the actors were women. In fact, the person who invented kabuki was a woman. Her name was Okuni, and she was originally a shrine attendant at the Izumo shrine. She did a lot of traditional noh acting, but she wanted to do something a bit more exciting and less formal. (although the high-class officials like noh, many people from the lower classes think it is incredibly boring!) She began acting in her own dramas at a makeshift stage in Kyoto, and the new style of acting became so popular that soon many kabuki companies had been formed. Unfortunately, the performances in Edo soon got to be very bawdy, and many people started going to the performances just to watch the beautiful women and their sexy costumes.

The Shogun decided that these performances were getting out of hand -- some of them had become almost like striptease shows -- so a law was passed making it illegal for women to act in kabuki dramas. In the long run, this was good for kabuki, because it forced people to concentrate on writing good dramas and acting, instead of just having plenty of beautiful women in revealing costumes. One of the most famous playwriters, named Chikamatsu Monzaemon, started to work at about this time, and he helped change kabuki completely. Monzaemon was one of the first professional playwrights in kabuki. Before the Shogun outlawed women actors, most plays had been written by the actors themselves. Monzaemon could be considered the "Shakespeare of Japan", because every playwright who came after him has been influenced by his work.

The kabuki theater is a fairly large building with elaborate decorations framing the entrance. In addition to elaborate carvings over the wooden doorway, there are also many brightly-colored posters of the top actors and "actresses" plastered around the entrance to the theater. Some of the younger kabuki actors are waiting at the entrance to welcome people to the theater and to sell tickets. The acting company is organized along a very strict hierarchy. Everyone in the acting troupe has a rank, and knows who is their superior and inferior. The top actors always get the lead roles in the plays, and they are allowed to order around the younger members of the company. Younger kabuki actors must spend many years doing all of the "dirty work", and studying from their superiors before they get a chance to act. If they are not very talented, they will probably spend most of their career chanting or playing a musical instrument in the "orchestra" which accompanies the performance. However, if they are good at acting, they may rise to play one of the secondary roles in a major production. Depending on the crowd's reaction, they might even get to be a leading actor or the lead onnagata one day.

The kabuki theaters all have a similar sort of layout -- on the first floor are cubicles with tatami mats, where the wealthier spectators sit -- sort of like "box seats". The stage is in the very front of the theater, but a long, narrow extension of the stage runs down one side of the hall to the center of the audience. This is called the hanamichi ("flower path"). When an actor is performing a very emotional scene, they will walk down the hanamichi, and deliver their lines from the very center of the audience. The people in the very best seats could literally reach out and touch the actor. This is often the high point of the drama, and the impact on the audience is tremendous.

On the opposite side of the stage from the hanamichi is a tall screen, and behind the screen sits the "orchestra" which accompanies the play. Kabuki dramas are not really "musicals", since the actors do not sing. However, the orchestra plays background music to accompany most of the scenes, and from time to time one of the actors (especially one of the onnagata) may perform a short dance.

On three sides of the theater are balconies where poorer people can get inexpensive tickets. However, even many of the wealthier people think it is more fun to watch kabuki from the balcony. People are much rowdier and more relaxed. Also, many of the actors have their own "fan clubs" who sit in the balcony and shout out cheers of encouragement at certain points in the drama.

Kabuki dramas are always very colorful and dramatic. The actors have developed all sorts of "special effects" that make the drama even more interesting. For example, there are many trap doors in the stage and behind the scenery, so actors often appear on stage suddenly, as if from nowhere. Another technique that the actors use is to wear one costume underneath another. Stage hands are waiting behind the curtain to help them get one costume off quickly. With practice, they can change into a completely different costume in just three or four seconds . The crowd is amazed when an actor dressed as an old man walks off the stage in one direction and appears a split second later on the opposite side of the stage dressed as a young samurai. It almost seems like magic!

Perhaps the most famous kabuki drama is the "Chushingura". This play is adapted from the story of the 47 samurai , and the people of Edo love to watch it. However, the bakufu has rules against any play that depicts people or events that have occurred recently. They don't want kabuki to be used as a way of complaining about the Government or satirizing unpopular people. Therefore, the story in the Chishingura has been changed slightly, and the setting has been moved to Kamakura in the 1200s. Of course, everyone knows what the drama is really about, so it doesn't make any difference that the "names were changed to protect the innocent".
- source : Edomatsu


. Kabuki Theater 歌舞伎 .
kumadori 隈取 painting of the face and more

. WKD : Edo Sanza 江戸三座
the three famous Kabuki theaters of Edo .


Tsukiji no tatsujin 築地の達人 Great masters of Tsukiji
Three different root vegetables pickled in Soy sauce:
「江戸ごぼう」- 「江戸歌舞伎漬」 - 「おかか生姜」


source : library.metro.tokyo.jp/portals

Tokyo Tsukiji hoteru kan 東京築地ホテル館 Tokyo Tsukiji Hotel Building
歌川芳虎 Utagawa Yoshitora, 1870
The first Western-style hotel in Tokyo.

Poster Print by Utagawa Hiroshige III (1843 - 1894)
source : amazon.com/ ...


. Dolls with Kabuki Makeup .


The word 築地 tsukiji (tsuiji) is used for other things.

. 築地 - tsuijibei 築地塀 Tsuiji wall, tile-roofed mud wall .

. Japanese Legends - 伝説 民話 昔話 – ABC-List .



京都府 Kyoto

Neko no magari 猫の曲り "The Cat Corner"
The corner of the South-East 築地塀(ついじべい) Tsuiji fence of temple To-Ji is called "Neko no Magari" and is feared as a place where ghosts and spooks reside. If people pass around this corner, they will experience misfortune. So even today a bridal procession will never pass along this corner.
This explanation goes back to the Heian period and the belief in the animal deities of the Four Directions. A statue of each one had been erected at the appropriate corner of the temple.
The statue of Byakko 白虎, the White Tiger in the West, had looked very much like a cat and people called it neko no magari-kado 猫の曲がり角 , the corner where the cat turns. But the statue had been removed at the beginning of the Meiji period.
Careful, maybe the protector deity of the West had been mis-placed in the South-East for some unknown reason and thus caused trouble ?!

There is another simpler explanation:
Since this corner is located in daily sunshine, many alley cats have come to live here.

. 東寺七不思議 Seven Wonders of Temple To-Ji .

. "Tozai Nanboku 東西南北" - the Four Directions .

Tsukubai no Tsuji 蹲踞辻

One corner of the fence around the 京都御所 Kyoto Gosho Imperial palace is called Tsubaki no Tsuji.
Is people pass here late at night, they often suddenly get lost and loose their way.

長野県 Nagano 小県郡 Chiisagata district 武石村 Takeshi

お仙ヶ淵 Osengafuchi - 大蛇 Huge Serpent
Once upon a long time,
three siblings suddenly came along and took up residence in the village. The oldest was sister お仙 O-Sen, next was brother 庄兵衛 Shohei and the youngest was 金次郎 Kinjiro. But shortly after they came, things in the village went awfully wrong. Almost every night some cattle was stolen. And often some large scales from 大蛇 a huge snake were left behind. The villagers soon realized that the three siblings were in fact large serpents and tried to get rid of them. But they were much afraid of a curse of the serpent, if they would harm the animals.
So they decided to declare them as deities and hold rituals for them.
O-Sen was worshipped at お仙ヶ淵 O-Sen-ga-fuchi, Shohei at 築地原の菖蒲池 the pond Shobu-Ike at Tsukijihara and Kinjiro at the pond 金次郎池 Kinjiro-Ike.
After that, the stealing and killing of their cattle stopped in the village.

お仙ヶ淵 Osengafuchi


- reference : Nichibun Yokai Database -


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. Chūō ku, Chuuoo Ku 中央区 Chuo Ward "Central Ward" .

. Japanese Architecture - Interior Design - The Japanese Home .

. Famous Places and Powerspots of Edo 江戸の名所 .

. Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. shokunin 職人 craftsman, craftsmen, artisan, Handwerker .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

. densetsu 伝説 Japanese Legends - Introduction .

- - - - - #tsukiji #kabukiedo - - - -

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