When samurai go feral

Nikki Danjo was a nasty bit of work. He not only had aspirations beyond his station but he could also turn into a large sewer rat, seemingly at will. Naturally he comes to a nasty end…after a rather prolonged fight with a geriatric samurai who was already suffering from a rather awful stomach wound.

(The fight, oddly enough, contained a number of ‘famous’ poses which were roundly applauded every time they were struck.)

We actually felt rather sorry for the geriatric samurai (Geki) particularly when, wound still bleeding, he was ordered to dance a dance of victory by the high court judge responsible for bringing down Nikki Danjo.

Above are the final moments of a Kabuki play called Meiboku Sendai Hagi and we saw it tonight as our last night in Japan extravaganza treat. And what a treat. We had intended only to stay an hour and then leave but we enjoyed it all so much we stayed for most of it. (We were late arriving so we missed the first bit of the first play.)

The curtain at first interval

The programme was made up of two plays followed by an odd little collection of dances around themes and performed by the same two guys. We were at the evening performance; there’s also a morning show which features different plays.

I booked it back in Oz and we’ve been looking forward to it given we’ve never seen a real Kabuki performance and I’ve read about it.

It was the culmination of a day of travelling. We left the lovely Kanasawa (we are SO going back to Kanasawa) via the station…

Kanasawa Station

…aboard the Tokyo bullet train, armed with Bento boxes and drinks. Which reminds me…one of the big things I’m going to miss about Japan (and there’s LOTS of things) is the seemingly endless vending machines. Seriously, they are everywhere. And you can always get a coffee at them – hot or cold. It’s always handy when you need a quick shot of caffeine or oolong tea.

Lovely iced coffee

The trip to Tokyo was long but the time went quickly enough and we were soon changing trains to the circle line and then the monorail back to Haneda airport so we could check-in to the airport hotel again.

It was then straight off, back into town, to the Kabuki show.

Apart from the content of the show (which was extraordinary) we also think we saw the Geiko and one of the Maiko girls from the Kyoto show we saw, at the theatre. They were sitting with another Geiko and Maiko and an old man (clearly very wealthy). They were quite a distance from us but I pointed them out to Mirinda and she reckoned I was right. I think the figure she quoted was 95% certain.

From the programme – one of the Soga brothers

Amazingly, the first play featured (the guy in the photo above and) a three year old who was being indoctrinated into the noble Bando house. The three year old was in the play and was greeted with rapturous applause when he first entered. He was really very good for a three year old.

There were four actors in total being admitted as Bando Boys. It was all very solemn and the whole thing took place on stage after the Sago play. Which was the first one.

One more thing about the Kabuki. I’ve noticed throughout our trip how short the Japanese are in general. I don’t think I’m reinforcing a stereotype, I do think the average height of a Japanese person is shorter than, say, a Brit. So it was rather annoying when the tallest woman in Japan decided to sit in front of me at the Kabuki.

And that was, basically, our day. Travel and Kabuki, a tiring mix.

Home tomorrow
[sad face]

I didn’t sleep well last night. The pain in my leg was awful and I just couldn’t get comfortable. When it was time to leave I was hobbling like a very, very old man…which was an improvement.

The trip from Kanasawa to Tokyo was fine but whenever we had to change trains it was a slow old journey. Poor Mirinda. She is being very stoic but I know she’s pissed off at what she’s missing.

Leaving for the theatre (Kabuki) was an effort but I’m really glad I went even though it meant a snail’s pace getting back to the airport hotel.

I’m so bloody pathetic.

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1 Response to When samurai go feral

  1. Mum Cook says:

    What a long travelling holiday good thing you had a bit of a rest with us in Aus. Still one you will never forget.
    Love mum xxxx

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