Key Kabuki Words Key Kabuki Words
Kabuki is spectacular and you don’t have to know anything to enjoy it. But a little bit of information about a few of the terms and the plays makes it even better.
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Terakoya / 寺子屋
These are schools for ordinary people. "Tera" means "temple" and some of these schools were in Buddhist temples, but many more were in private homes run by members of the samurai class. Often these were ronin or masterless samurai, since this was one of the few ways they could make a living. In Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy, the terakoya school is run by Takebe Genzo, a samurai who was a retainer and former student of Sugawara no Michizane (Kan Shojo in the play).
Edokko / 江戸っ子
"Kamigata" (the region around Osaka and Kyoto) and Edo (the old name for Tokyo) had very different cultures and this is reflected in different kinds of plays and characters. The typical Kamigata leading man is charming and gentle, but can also be rather weak and childish. These roles are played in the wagoto style of acting. Edo was a brash new city, which started to be built up after Tokugawa Ieyasu made it the center of his power in 1590. In the early years it was overwhelmingly a city of men and a city of samurai and their boisterous, impatient spirit is seen in the "Edokko (child of Edo)." They are gallant, quick to fight and willing to spend everything they have, as soon as they make it. In the program, the fishmonger Sogoro and the villainous tea priest Kochiyama are examples of Edokko.
Wagoto / 和事
This is the gentle acting style especially associated with Kyoto and Osaka. In particular this refers to the weak, but charming male characters like Izaemon.

Please see Key Kabuki Words - kabuki terms in the program page of "Wagoto: Ladies' Man as Hero"

Kawatake Mokuami / 河竹黙阿弥

Kawatake Mokuami (1816 – 1893) was the last great playwright of kabuki and many of his plays are reworkings of stories and themes from the entire history of kabuki. He not only wrote plays at the end of the Edo period, he also wrote kabuki plays after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, some of them on new themes. Since the shogunate censored real history plays during the Edo period, he wrote plays closer to actual history and he also wrote plays that showed the world of westernizing and modernizing Meiji Japan.

In his pure kabuki plays, Mokuami is particularly famous for his plays about thieves, like Kochiyama in this program and Benten, the Thief in a previous program. He is also known for his poetic speeches often in the rhythm called "shichi-go cho (seven-five rhythm)" with lines alternating seven and five syllables and featuring a rich vocabulary of poetic images ranging from the classical tradition to the daily life of the Edo period.

Please see Key Kabuki Words - kabuki terms in the program page of "Charming Villains"

Osukiya bozu / お数寄屋坊主
In samurai society, social gatherings featured tea, from full-scale tea ceremonies to just the presentation of tea to guests. In Edo castle, the palace of the Tokugawa shoguns, this became the duty of low-ranking functionaries called "osukiya bozu." They were not actually Buddhist priests, but dressed as priests and shaved their heads. Kochiyama seems to have been an actual historical figure who served in Edo castle, but was also a gang boss and ran a gambling den.