Stepping off the bus, we had about an hour to kill before the show, and we were all hungry. Luckily, a local summer festival was happening in the grassy park in front of the theater, with funds going to help tsunami relief on the opposite coast. Belying my fancy clothes, I quickly bought a savory pile of yakisoba noodles and sat on a bench watching the festival. The park was beautiful in its lush green splendor, and it was pleasant to watch all the children enjoying the festival.
Eventually I noticed a man pulling a rickshaw, carrying two regal looking people. One was an elderly man dressed in grey kimono, his brown hair (probably a wig) tied in a top knot. Beside him, dressed in a beautiful red and purple woman’s kimono and elaborate hair ornaments, was a second man—an onnagata.
The modern-day onnagata in Kosaka was the star of the theater, and he was being pulled about the festival to drum up business. His beautiful kimono and charming nature made me eager to make my way to the theater. I finished up my yakisoba, but before I could stand up to walk away, a beetle the size of my first thumb joint circled my head and dropped into the neck of my kimono. Bound up tightly by the belt at my waist and numerous hidden ties keeping the robe together, I had no way to dig the ugly thing out. I started to freak out, making quick, short whimpering noises while trying to hold still for fear of it biting me. Justin didn’t believe that I had a bug stuck in my robe, despite watching me twitch and recoil from the tickling sensation as it walked across my back. It moved onto my shoulder, thankfully, where I could herd it with my finger across my arm and out my sleeve. Meanwhile, an elderly man missing several teeth was sitting next to me laughing, which was contagious.
Smiling over the scare, we made our way back to the group, who were standing in front of the theater. Due to Kosaka’s booming mining history, many foreigners had traveled there to cash in on the abundance. As a result, many of the buildings in the neighborhood sport a Western architecture style, including the kabuki theater called Kourakukan. Since most other theaters have been rebuilt, Kourakukan, built in 1910, happens to be the oldest kabuki theater in Japan. The white and light blue façade hides the traditional kabuki setting inside.
Have you ever been to a kabuki performance? What are some traditional dance styles in the countries you’ve visited? Have you had an uncomfortable experience with an unwelcome bug? Let me know in the comments!