The history of Shochiku Kabuki performances overseas

The history of overseas Kabuki performances goes back to 1928 in the Soviet Union (now Russia). This performance was met with greater success than expected. Since then, Kabuki has visited 115 cities in 38 countries (as of November 2019).

“The Japanese Kabuki theatre is a travelling embassy”. This is an expression from a local review of a performance in Australia in 1978 and it well describes the significance of performing overseas. Overseas performances play a large role in interchange between countries through culture, separate from politics and economics.

The unique performance style and aesthetics cultivated by Kabuki were received with wonder and acclaim overseas, and the high regard led many in Japan to reevaluate their view of Kabuki. Overseas performances today have gone beyond the initial purpose of showcasing Kabuki, a classic Japanese performing art. Overseas performances of the Heisei Nakamuraza Theatre and Kabuki performances in Las Vegas, USA have been attempts to demonstrate the Kabuki of the present day.

The program for Las Vegas, in particular, was with localization in view when promoting Kabuki overseas. Koi-Tsukami “Fight with a Carp” was performed at the fountain of the Bellagio in 2015, and Shi-Shi-O “The Adventures of the Mythical Lion” was performed in a theatre in the MGM Grand in 2016—new works perfect for each location were created, and the production team experimented with the latest in audio and video. In 2017, an exhibition of Kabuki costumes was hosted by the Portland Japanese Garden in the USA. We are testing ways to bring attention to Kabuki and spread it in ways in addition to the theatre.

List of Overseas Tours