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A Japanese 'Riverdance'?

KEITH BRAMICH (with simultaneous translation
by YURI IZAWA) experiences the four thousand strong spectacle
of 'Sleeping King - The Promise of Love with a True Heart'


The plot has something of the nature of a bizarre Turandot ...

Years after the putting-to-sleep of the Japanese Emperor by The King of the Moon, a child is born mysteriously to ordinary parents (an elderly grey-haired bamboo collector and his wife). The child grows into Kaguyahime, a girl so beautiful that men travel from across the country to ask her for marriage. Five persistent suitors are given impossible tasks to accomplish. Only one of them -- Otomo-no-Dainagon -- has a true heart, and he takes the difficult path, setting off by sea (in spite of warnings from everyone not to go) to find a 'dragon neck ball'.

Many old Japanese stories begin in a similar way. All is not as it seems, though, for this is a kind of neo-Kabuki -- based on the traditional theatre from which the Shogun banned women -- so (the not so femininely beautiful) Kaguyahime is played on stage by male Kabuki star Kantaro Nakamura.

Kantaro Nakamura (left) as Kaguyahime and Danjuro Ichikawa as King of the Moon in 'Sleeping King'


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Copyright © 19 May 2002 Keith Bramich, London, UK




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