Workers disinfect seats at the Kabukiza Theater, where traditional kabuki resumed Saturday following a five-month closure due to the coronavirus. Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato
entertainment

Kabuki theater resumes, socially distanced, after 5-month coronavirus hiatus

7 Comments
By Elaine Lies

Japan's stately traditional kabuki theater resumed performances on Saturday after a five-month break due to the coronavirus, with musicians in masks, actors farther apart on stage and only half the usual number of seats.

The re-opening of Tokyo's famed Kabukiza Theater, which called off performances from March due to the spread of the coronavirus, came even as new cases have spiked to record highs around the country.

"We're re-opening based on guidelines from infectious disease experts, paying attention to audience safety from the time they enter until the time they leave," Kabukiza manager Yoshitaka Hashimoto said.

Onstage, the number of musicians is limited and all wear draped black cloth masks from nose to chest.

Performers stand farther back on stage and keep a greater than normal distance from each other. Actors and staff are completely different for each act, to shorten contact.

Though the traditional black-dressed stage assistants who approach the performers most closely wore both masks and face shields during a rehearsal, the company that runs the theater said they wore only masks from Saturday's performance because the shields apparently made their job harder to do.

Audience members face temperature checks at the entrance and must wear masks. Seats are roped off so fewer than half are usable, and the auditorium will be sterilized between each act.

Though eating boxed lunches between acts has long been a cherished kabuki custom, it's currently prohibited.

Tokyo on Saturday confirmed a record 472 cases. Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike has warned the capital could declare a state of emergency should things deteriorate further, a situation Hashimoto said they're reluctantly keeping in mind.

"Of course if there are limits and requests from the government, we'll ... look into a different form of performing - which might mean halting partway through the run," he said.

Chiaki Sakurai, a 46-year-old Tokyo resident who usually watches kabuki two or three times a month and was dressed in a green kimono, said she was grateful and excited.

"To say nothing good has happened the last five months may be an exaggeration, but I feel as if I've finally come back to life," she added.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
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I saw a scene of a Kabuki play on NHK last night. None of the actors were wearing masks! Oh no!

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

That great Kabuki and cinema is reopening. It also highlights the absolute farce that is cancelling all summer festivities. Shame on this government, and all governments in the world for lacking any creativity, vision and courage to take this forward. This is no way to live.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

@Simian Lane

It also highlights the absolute farce that is cancelling all summer festivities

Also here, I 100% agree!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

It also highlights the absolute farce that is cancelling all summer festivities. Shame on this government, and all governments in the world for lacking any creativity, vision and courage to take this forward. This is no way to live.

Festivals and other public gatherings in Japan consist of large crowds of people enjoying themselves by crowding together, talking together, cheering together, sweating together, laughing together, eating together, drinking together, using public toilets together, and generally carrying on in a carefree way. Together. That's a great part of the appeal. To try and apply the practicalities of social distancing and anti-infection measures in that kind of environment would be impossible.

You've (presumably) read in the article the measures being taken by cinema and kabuki staff to clean, disinfect and keep some distance between patrons.

Which cinemas and theatres do you go to where the attendees behave in a way that would be the equivalent of the crowds at your average matsuri?

How would you propose to hold a festival or fireworks display or any large public gathering without creating conditions leading to a spread of the coronavirus? You'll need more than masks.

Could you suggest examples of the "creativity, vision and courage" you think should be shown by governments?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I do hope they took all contacts from the visitors, they will need them 2 weeks from now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Festivals and other public gatherings in Japan consist of large crowds of people enjoying themselves by crowding together, talking together, cheering together, sweating together, laughing together, eating together, drinking together, using public toilets together, and generally carrying on in a carefree way. Together. That's a great part of the appeal. To try and apply the practicalities of social distancing and anti-infection measures in that kind of environment would be impossible.

You've (presumably) read in the article the measures being taken by cinema and kabuki staff to clean, disinfect and keep some distance between patrons.

Which cinemas and theatres do you go to where the attendees behave in a way that would be the equivalent of the crowds at your average matsuri?

How would you propose to hold a festival or fireworks display or any large public gathering without creating conditions leading to a spread of the coronavirus? You'll need more than masks.

Could you suggest examples of the "creativity, vision and courage" you think should be shown by governments?

Honestly how was this even downvoted??? Lol.....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ok, let me try that again. Honestly how or why was this even downvoted? It posed coherent questions...

It also highlights the absolute farce that is cancelling all summer festivities. Shame on this government, and all governments in the world for lacking any creativity, vision and courage to take this forward. This is no way to live.

Festivals and other public gatherings in Japan consist of large crowds of people enjoying themselves by crowding together, talking together, cheering together, sweating together, laughing together, eating together, drinking together, using public toilets together, and generally carrying on in a carefree way. Together. That's a great part of the appeal. To try and apply the practicalities of social distancing and anti-infection measures in that kind of environment would be impossible.

You've (presumably) read in the article the measures being taken by cinema and kabuki staff to clean, disinfect and keep some distance between patrons.

Which cinemas and theatres do you go to where the attendees behave in a way that would be the equivalent of the crowds at your average matsuri?

How would you propose to hold a festival or fireworks display or any large public gathering without creating conditions leading to a spread of the coronavirus? You'll need more than masks.

Could you suggest examples of the "creativity, vision and courage" you think should be shown by governments?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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