Ebizo and Others Take Memorial "Selfies"Array of Star Actors in Minamiza Theatre's Oneri Parade
In commemoration of the Minamiza Theatre's reopening in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, the largest-ever "Oneri," or Kabuki actors moving in a slow parade, in Kabuki history took place on October 27. Shijo-dori Street in Kyoto's Gion area was overflowing with spectators waiting for their glimpse of the star actors. Prior to the Oneri parade, the opening ceremony was held in the Minamiza Theatre. A total of 100 Kabuki actors assembled on stage for the ceremony, including the Living National Treasures of eastern and western styles of Kabuki, Tojuro Sakata and Kikugoro Onoe, who did not join the Oneri parade. The spectacular gathering was closed with a festive hand-clapping ceremony.
Shortly after the opening ceremony's finish at 2:30 p.m., the numerous spectators along the streets erupted into cheers as a total of 69 Kabuki stars stepped from the front of the Minamiza Theatre, making their appearances on Shijo-dori Street one after another. During the brief wait for the parade to start, Ebizo Ichikawa took out his smartphone and called out to nearby actors to take commemorative selfies.
Among that circle was a full array of mid-career and young Kabuki actors who have lead Kabuki performances since the Heisei Period, including Koshiro Matsumoto, Shido Nakamura, Ainosuke Kataoka, Chusha Ichikawa, Ennosuke Ichikawa, Kikunosuke Onoe and others. Ebizo promptly uploaded the snaps to his blog via his smartphone, sending them with the message "Ittekimasu!" or I am going now, at 2:40 p.m.
Heralded by a shower of gold and silver tape shot into the sky, the Oneri parade started amid the sounds of festival music. The smiling actors paraded slowly down the street, waving their hands, while the crowd, overflowing onto the roadway, took pictures with their smartphones and cameras.
The opening ceremony of the Minamiza Theatre was held for invited guests only. The three-generational, family line-up of Hakuo Matsumoto, Koshiro Matsumoto and Somegoro Ichikawa, whose succession of new stage-names will be celebrated at this November's "Kaomise" production, showed "Kotobukishiki Sanbaso," or a traditional prelude performance for joy, and offered their congratulations to the stage.
Tojuro Sakata, who was born and raised in Kyoto, made a speech representing the actors. He said, "I have countless memories of the Minamiza Theatre. Performing at the Minamiza Theatre gives me a special feeling and it is a blessing which cannot be expressed in words. I strongly hope that this theatre is continuously loved as the traditional culture of Kyoto and also world-class Japanese theatre."
On the stage, Kabuki actors with the title of Living National Treasure, including Nizaemon Kataoka, whose selection as a Person of Cultural Merit was just announced on October 26, Kichiemon Nakamura, Tamasaburo Bando and others sat in the front row. Koshiro and Ebizo were lined up in the second row. Their finale was an "Ippon-Jime" clapping led by Kikugoro, in hopes that the reopened Minamiza Theatre would be packed for the
"Kaomise" production starting November 1.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)