This week, we explore the history of one of Japan’s most popular art forms: kabuki theater. Major themes include prostitution, Tokugawa era morality laws, stagecraft, prostitution, and the superiority of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine over The Next Generation.


Listen to the episode here.


Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Leiter, Samuel L. A Kabuki Reader: History and Performance.



One of the biggest differences between Noh and Kabuki is the lack of masks in the latter. Noh plays like this one keep the actor’s face obscured and move at a far slower pace; emotion is conveyed by delicate movements rather than over the top performance.


A statue of Izumo no Okuni next to the Kamo River in Kyoto. Okuni’s first performances took place in a dry part of the Kamo riverbed.


The makeup in kabuki is exaggerated both for the effect of its imagery and in some cases to obscure the gender of the actor.


A traditional kabuki theater with the hanamichi running towards the stage.


The various actors of the Ichikawa Danjuro lineage.


Nakamura Kenzaburo as Imagawa Yoshimoto. Kabuki actors have been fairly successful in transitioning to roles on TV dramas; in general, kabuki has been more successful than noh in keeping up a modern following.