Day 15 | Tokio (1)

7u. They say it is going to be 25 degrees today. The sun is out and shining brightly. I switched off the light too late last night - too late for a room with paper curtains, in any case.

vieuw window

My thoughts are with my husband, tomorrow is the start of a new chapter for him. It’ll be his first day at his new job. I wish I could talk to him, but he doesn’t answer my messages. He must be asleep, wise of him.

buildings and busy street
plasic sakura

Today we have a ‘day off’. We go to the Kabuki-za. There we will see three (from 11am to 3pm31) Kabuki performances. Quite excited to see what it will be. The actors are all men - a result of the fact that, a long time ago, actresses were harassed by sexualy excited men after the performance. That was not tolerated, so since then all the roles have been played by men.

poster of this play

The theatre is an experience in its own. You have to take the escalator up to the third floor. There are shops and even a restaurant. Needless to say, there are guard everywhere. Just in case something might go wrong.

vieuw inside the theatre

The performances begin in perfect time. My knees barely fit between the seats. I have never sat so small before. There is an American lady sitting next to Vladimir and she is even a head taller than I am. There are four empty seats beside me, so I want to move so that everyone gets some extra space. But I am immediately corrected. Not allowed. Not allowed to take photos or eating. Almost out of nowhere, a security guard appears and signs his name with two crossed fingers. I dare to drink - some of the locals do it very discreetly, then I dare as well.

black/white portraits of kabuki-actors
scene from the kabuki-play

The show is fantastic. It is a strange mixture of stage and performance. The sets are beautiful, as are the costumes. It really seems as if the old prints have come to life. Occasionally the behaviour of the actors is frozen. Then, from somewhere at the back of the hall, a guard loudly scans something - the name of the actor in question, we are later told. So if you play an important role, your name will be scanned every time you appear in a key scene. Good for your publicity.

The first play is about a sumo wrestler, blessed with a thick head of hair, who kills someone. His old mother shaves off his hair on stage. The second play, just after lunch, is more light-hearted. Mostly song and dance. The gods are drunkenly sailing around in a boat and dancing. Funny.

The highlight of the day is the final performance. Life of an Edo era fishmonger, a complicated story with a lot of different characters. It is exciting, gripping and spiced up with the occasional joke, but hard for me to follow. Fortunately, we do know that the protagonist wears red trousers and has a lot of tattoos. There is live English translation via a headset, very happy with those.

Suddenly, Vladimir leans suspiciously close to me. Ah, he’s sleeping. In Japanese style, he can doze off only to wake up refreshed a little later. I also feel my eyes closing a little later. So it goes up and down a bit. But the climax of the story is not one to fall asleep to: a fight, a murder, mud and swamp and, above all, very beautiful scenes. To remember.

Wow. I would immediately come back tomorrow and every following day!

After the show we both have a date. I have a date with Mia O, one of the Mokuhanga sisters. Vladimir with a former colleague-student from 17 years ago. We go our separate ways. I have a nice afternoon. It feels as if Mia and I have known each other for a long time. We say goodbye and promise to keep in touch. Something I have done several times on this trip.

Noodles at the bar around the corner to end the day. Then dessert in our flat, shower and blog. Ready for tomorrow, for Master Asaka Motoharu.

our shadow on the street