Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Return to Tokyo, Day Two

B. and I rode the train out to Kawasaki, to the Nihon Minkaen ("Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum"). There are 25 rural buildings from the Edo period that have been relocated and restored in this "village." Quite charming--though it was VERY hot that day!

Many of the buildings had these incredible thatched roofs--the smell of the straw(?) was intense (and wonderful).
This one had a little garden growing on the roof ridge...
This was a stable, attached directly to the living quarters of the farmhouse--so voila, a straw horse!
The people were exceedingly nice, despite our language barriers: this lady is showing us how to grind rice into rice flour (hard work, let me tell you!).
And we were given these little grasshoppers made from green straw as souvenirs. Sweet!
Kawasaki was interesting...we actually had some delicious Indian curry for lunch, with Bollywood videos playing in the background. Very multicultural: the cooks were Indian (but spoke Japanese), and our waitress was Japanese.

Then we took the train back to Tokyo. We wanted to go see kabuki, so we headed off to the Ginza, where the theater is located. It was sold out for the afternoon act, so we wandered around until the next act started: kabuki performances usually last almost all day, so one-act tickets are offered, with limited seating, for those who want to, as it were, sample kabuki.

This is the Kabuki-za, the rather baroque kabuki theatre...magnificent. And kabuki itself? Words can't describe it, really...we didn't purchase the English translation (via headsets)--we wanted to just absorb the sensory experience--but we got the gist of what we were seeing. (Did you know that women are not allowed to perform kabuki, even though women originated the art form and played both male and female roles? Apparently these performers attracted too much [or the wrong kind of] male attention, and around 1629 women were banned from kabuki. Today all of the female parts are played by boys and men.)

It was remarkable, amazing, beautiful, strange--and truly unforgettable. I'm so glad we got a chance to experience it.

1 comment:

Dolores said...

Weren't the farmhouses incredible? Not surprisingly, they are each reflective of one's station in life. If you like Kabuki, you should see a Noh performance next time. Perhaps more beautiful and esoteric!