Super Kabuki Super Typhoon

I woke up excited today. Today is the day we are attending a Kabuki theatre production. 

Months ago, while searching for “things to do” in Tokyo, I stumbled across a website showing Kabuki productions playing and there was one during our stay in Tokyo. L&R agreed that we should try to buy tickets online. It was nerve wracking, and very expensive, but we managed to procure four tickets for today’s show.

Our first bit of excitement is the metro train ride downtown. It is rush hour and the commuters are packed like sardines in a tin. I take a deep breath and push my way onto a train, my three companions follow. There are attendants on the platform, with white gloves, that nudge people into the train and help get extraneous items within the car so the doors can close. I can’t reach anything to hang onto, but there are so many men around and up against me that I am just held in place. No personal space on this train. No matter how packed it is more people get on at the next station. For me it was a giggling situation. 

Murray ordering his egg on a stick!
Murray ordering his egg on a stick!

We eat breakfast at the Tsukiji Outdoor Market. Sushi triangles, egg omelet on a stick, grilled scallops. Once our tummies are full, we walk the few blocks to the Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre. Murray picks up our tickets and L&R and I buy boxed lunches (sushi) to eat during the first intermission. It’s a thing everyone does and totally acceptable to eat in your seat in the theatre!

Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

The theatre holds maybe 1,000 people on three levels and we four look to be the only caucasians in attendance. Our seats are half way back on the main floor beside the runway down the left aisle, it will be a great view.

Kabuki Theatre
Waiting for the play to begin.

The opening of the play is jaw dropping. It grabs us with powerful music, striking lighting, lanterns, laser patterns, mirrors as a backdrop and small pink hearts floating down from above. We are amazed at the spectacle, and I have a wide childlike grin on my face.

The basic story is girl meets boy, girl looses boy, girl gets boy back, Super Kabuki style. The costumes are colourful and outlandish. All the actors are men, even the women’s roles. This goes back to the time when it was no longer appropriate for women to act in the theatre, so men replaced them and it has remained that way for Kabuki theatre since.

A couple of highlights are a bright silver horse operated by two men underneath its frame. Very convincing and agile. At the end of the second act, a structure with water and a fountain is used during a fight scene. Fantastic visuals with lasers and lights, water spraying everywhere, including the first few rows of spectators, who had sheets of plastic to hold up and ward off the spray. I decide I am glad we did not buy tickets in the first row. Our mouths were agape when the curtain closed for the second intermission.

No matter what I write I cannot relate the spectacle that this Kabuki production creates. Even without understanding the language we could follow the story. We decide it far out performs any Cirque de Soleil performance.

During the second intermission, L checks the train website for an update on train cancellations due to the approaching super typhoon. Yup, they are cancelling our train on Saturday (tomorrow) to Osaka. We decide to go to the train station right after the play ends to try to change our tickets for later today.

At the train station we learn all the reserved seats for all trains to Shin-Osaka are full, but we can buy non reserved seats and try to get on any train going that way. It is back to the hotel, pack up as quickly as we can and troop back to the train station. We got good advice from the fellow at the JR train office and went to Tokyo Station, the start of the train route.

As I write this we are on a bullet train to Osaka and I am relieved, surprised and thankful that we are even on the train. The press of bodies on the platform was worse than the morning commute train. The crush and the pushing that we endured to get on the train was almost laughable. I snuck through the train door because a fellow got his body in the door but his suitcase was trapped outside the door, leaving me an opening to squeeze past. Murray followed close behind me. I snagged a seat, but Murray is now sometimes standing and sometimes sitting on our suitcase. L&R are in the next car thankfully as we lost sight of them in the melee. There are many, many people fleeing the typhoon, just like us.

Between train rides, Super Kabuki and Super Typhoons, we have had a rather eventful day.

It is now the next morning and our eventful day kept going with a fire alarm (a false alarm luckily) waking us up at 3:00 am to go stand in the rain for almost half an hour.

Hopefully today will be calmer. We do pick up a car today an start driving so we will have to see.

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