Izumo No Okuni And The Founder Of Kabuki

Izumo No Okuni | History Of Izumo | Izumo No Okuni History |

Izumo no Okuni

The source of the Camo River is Mount Sajikigata, about 3,000 feet above sea level, with Kitakutu on the outskirts of Kyoto. In Japanese, ‘Kamo’ means ‘wild goose’. Izumo-Taisha, located along the Kamo River, is one of the oldest Shinto monasteries in Japan. Nakamura Saneman, a blacksmith by profession, and his predecessor, Izumo Taisha, were employed as monks at the monastery. Izumo no Okuni, the daughter of Nakamura Saneman, has been employed as a Miko or monk at Izumo Taisha Monastery since childhood. Miko is a complementary priest who assists in the conduct of various religious ceremonies in the monastery. They also performed sacred dances for the monastery.

Izumo No Okuni
Izumo No Okuni History

Izumo no Okuni became proficient in acting and dance at a very young age. The fame of her acting, dancing, and beauty spread very fast in the rituals of Shinto Math. Due to his acting, dancing, and popularity, he has the opportunity to travel outside of Kyoto. From the monastery, Okuni was sent to Kyoto to perform religious dances. On one such occasion, Okuni performed a tenth-century folk dance, Nembutsu Odori (a dance dedicated to the Amida Buddha). Leaving the traditional religious dance garb, Okuni tells the story of a man and a prostitute’s humorous conversation, which elicited a huge response from the audience, but the monastery priests were unhappy.

Izumo No Okuni The Founder Of Kabuki

The sexually explicit stories, performances, and stories of the common people of the society were unprecedented in the dance of religious ceremonies. After this incident, the priests called Okuni and asked him to show cause, but he did not return to the monastery.

Okuni started his own theater in 1803 on the banks of the arid Kamo River. With that, she started acting in the women’s court of the royal court. Kyoto’s underprivileged and then lower class (especially prostitutes) women get opportunities in his theater troupe. Okuni gave them all the initiation in acting, dance, and music. Those baptized women became the first members of the Kabuki Theater.

Izumo No Okuni
Izumo no Okuni; Image Source: Tokugawa Art Museum

The initial meaning of the word kabuki is ‘those who are proud of strange clothes’. Among Kabuki’s two special features, its exaggerated decor and variety of clothing are the most visible. Each story is told through colorful costumes, exaggerated decorations, and depressing background music. Tragic stories predominate in the Kabuki theater. It is thought that the structure of kabuki dance and acting began when Okuni was a Miko at Izumi Taisha Monastery.

Kabuki was born at the beginning of the Edo period. The Edo period lasted from 1803 to 18. During the reign of Tokugawa Lemitsur, Japan voluntarily renounced all Western relations in order to remain free from foreign influence. Later, however, some trade relations took place only through the port of Nagasaki.

This policy was in force in Japan from 1833 to 1853. While it is difficult to say exactly how much this policy of eliminating foreign influence, which has been going on for more than two hundred years, helped Japan financially, it is quite easy to say that it played a major role in preserving the identity of art, industry and social customs. Kabuki gained popularity at that time.

Izumo No Okuni
History Of Izumo

Come back to the words of those baptized women. Okuni’s team consisted of artists from different tribes. Most of them are street artists. There were no male artists in that group. The female characters in the male characters of the play were also female. At the same time that the structural structure of the kabuki began to take shape, the Okuni kabuki theater became popular day by day. The Kabuki Theater appears to be a wonder to the common man.

Because the traditional folk theater of Japan at that time was full of religious fables, stories, and myths. The Kabuki Theater, meanwhile, was about humor, war, and humorous dramatic adaptations of contemporary events. Okuni’s Kabuki story tells the story of love, the heroism of a warrior, and the women of a brothel. It caused a stir among the spectators at that time. The audience is mesmerized by the colorful costumes, exaggerated decorations, strange eloquence, and melancholy ambient music. Okuni’s reputation spread.

The main story of Kabuki revolves around history. The main feature of Kabuki is the dramatic adaptation of previous events. These incidents are highlighted through strong dialogue, strange eloquence, and touching expressions. Okuni brings to his story the inconsistency of the Japanese culture and customs of the time. Okuni’s on-stage dance stories were new to the time but timely. These stories were later refined in Okuni. The staging of anti-monarchy and anti-social events was later repealed by the Censorship Act.

It is thought that Nagoya Sansoburo was a financial collaborator of Izumo no Okuni. Sansoburo provided financial support for the early Kabuki Theater. Sansoburo was a samurai who died in 1803. One of Okuni’s famous kabuki plays is with this sansoburo. There it is shown that Sansoburo came back to earth after death to dance with Okuni.

Izumo no Okuni retired in 1810. Nothing more is known about him after that. He is thought to have died in 1813. The popularity he has enjoyed since the founding of Kabuki was unbelievable to himself. Despite the low socio-economic participation of women in Japanese society at the time, Izumo no Okuni set up a stage industry on her own initiative. Okuni’s contribution to the art and craft of the later Edo period is unique. In the course of time, today Kabuki has been transformed into the world-famous ‘Form of Art’.

In 1829, Tokugawa Lemitsu asked women to refrain from performing in kabuki theaters because of the promotion of pornography and the attraction of men to kabuki actresses. As a result, only men started performing in all Kabuki theaters, a practice that is still practiced today.

FAQs

Q. What did Okuni do?

A. She is thought to have begun performing her new art style of “kabuki” (lit., “the art of singing and dancing”) theatre in the dry riverbed of the Kamo River in Kyoto.

Q. Where is Okuni?

A. The Okuni Shrine, also known as Okuni jinja, is a Shinto shrine in the town of Mori, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.

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