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.
Copyright © 19 May 2002
Keith Bramich, London, UK
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