Christmas day, I treat myself to experience 4 acts of kabuki theatre at the traditional theatre Minai-za in Kyoto. The 4 acts totalling almost 5 hours are indeed an endurance towards the end of the final act, especially with absent Japanese language. Each act was taken from a different play, the results of which were slightly confusing, but the set design and costumes were a wonderful spectacle.
The wooden panels on the outside of the theatre pictured below show the names of each kabuki performer for the season. The signage is the result of a month long residency by a master calligrapher, made possible by the Myoudenji temple. This annual residency is a centuries old tradition and the calligraphic style, kantei-ryu, is only used for kabuki actor’s names. The tightly packed black with almost no white space, is meant to bring luck and a packed house for the event. I was told that the ink has sake added to it to produce glossiness and that the master was now in his seventies and had started his apprenticeship at the age of fifteen. The sense of history and tradition in Japan is a stark contrast to the youth of colonial Australia.