歌舞伎座完成！ The new Kabuki-za, under construction since 2010, is now complete, and ready to open in April. The previous incarnation was constructed in 1950, and lasted throughout the post-war, until now – this is the first time in history that the Kabuki-za was intentionally taken down, rather than being destroyed by earthquake or fire. Why did they dismantle it and built it anew, from the ground up? I don’t know. They say it was in order to install better, newer, systems for protecting the building from earthquakes. This is purely a hunch, a gut feeling, but it sounds to me like a cover-up sort of answer, like there was some other reason for doing it.
In any case, now that it’s complete, plenty of blogs, news sites, and the like are covering the event.
*The blog Kokera-otoshi 13 is dedicated entirely to the topic of the rebuilding; there are only a few entries that have been posted, but they’re quite beautifully done. I expect that now that the building is complete, we should be able to expect more new and exciting posts in the near future.
A number of YouTubers have posted simple walkaround videos showing what the new building looks like. We’ve been seeing concept drawings for quite some time, and now we get to see the real thing. My main reaction? It’s very white. Looks almost unreal, it’s so perfectly clean. Kind of recalls for me the white, clean, aesthetic of, well, I don’t know the word for it, but of a particular brand of post-modern / ultra-modern architecture. Actually, what I think it reminds me of more than anything else is a reproduction – its perfect, brand-new, so-clean facade reminds me of the Hawaii Byodoin, an extremely clean- and new-looking full-scale replica of the actual Byodoin, in Uji (near Kyoto), which, by contrast, looks old, historical, authentic. Ah, but the new Kabuki-za will look and feel authentic before too long. We’ll all get used to it.
What’s really important is that, contrary to some people’s fears, yes, it does indeed look just like it always has – they didn’t omit or dramatically alter the 1889 Imperial Style pseudo-Azuchi-Momoyama facade – and, the skyscraper, in my opinion, really doesn’t look like it detracts at all. Even if it isn’t really, the skyscraper tower looks like a separate building, behind the theatre. It almost sort of melts into the background, amid the other skyscrapers of Ginza.
What do you think?
*Meanwhile, Jiji Press has published a photo of a massive snow sculpture replica of the Kabuki-za, exhibited at this year’s Sapporo Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri).
*And, here, from Shôchiku themselves, a brief article (in Japanese) on the raising of the yagura earlier this week. The yagura (lit. “tower”) is the purple cloth cube hung above the entrance to the theatre announcing, or indicating, that the theatre is open and featuring productions that week/month. Unlike the castle-like architectural style of the Kabuki-za, this is a tradition going back to the Edo period, and extremely similar yagura can be seen hoisted above the Nakamura-za, Ichimura-za, Yamamura-za, and Morita-za in ukiyo-e prints from the time.
Grand Opening performances, called kokera-otoshi (“falling shingles,” implying the building is so new the shingles are still falling off.. or something?), will last for six months. I very much hope that I get to go visit Japan this summer and get to see some of these performances.
In the meantime, as I come across more news, pictures, and video, I’ll keep updating about it.