0.02 The origin of Kabuki

In 1600, the dance by Okuni, a girl who introduced herself as a physic of Izumo Taisha, gained explosive popularity in Kyoto, and this dance became the basis of Kabuki. To entertain the audience, she dressed in man attire with gorgeous costumes, or sometimes dressed as a monk and danced on a stage. These unique performances caught people's attention and it became popular not only in Kyoto, but also in the central of Japan, Edo. Although there is no further information about her after then, her dance had been established as Kabuki-Odori in Japan.

Managers of Yujo-Ya, prostitute houses, took advantage of Kabuki-Odori popularity, and let prostitutes dress in man attire and dance to advertise their business. As expected, this YUJO-KABUKI, the dance by beautiful prostitutes, evoked various responses and became popular. Addopting Shamisen, a musical instrument introduced from China, to the performance hepled it gain more popularity, because Shamisen was not familiar yet in Japan at that time and caught many people's interests as well. However, in 1629, the shogunate prohibited YUJO-KABUKI concerning confusion of public morals.

Shortly after that, WAKASHU-KABUKI appeared instead of YUJO-KABUKI. Wakashu are young boys who haven't shaved their front hair, which was a coming-of-age ritual for men.

These boys played all characters on a stage include female roles, and especially the boys who had beautiful appearance and were skillful at female roles were later called ONNAGATA.

In Japan, there was already an art performance that young boys dance and sing on a stage, so WAKASHU-KABUKI was not really innovative, but dancing by beautiful young boys gained popularity as YUJO-KABUKI. Especially, Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Shogun of Tokugawa family, loved this and invited them play in the Edo Castle. However, after the death of Iemitsu, WAKASHU-KABUKI was prohibited in 1652 by Shogunate, concerning that it has a possibility of promoting sodomy.