Kabuki & Noh 101


Kabuki, which is one of Japan's most popular traditional performance arts, literally translates to "the art of singing and dancing".

Highly stylised and exaggerated, it started in 1603 and used to be performed entirely by men. These days, women perform as well.

Kabuki icon Ebizo Ichikawa XI believes the art is not dying but will continue for a long time.

"Japan is a small island country and her culture has evolved a long way," he told M.

"Though the times we live in now are different from when it began, human emotions are universal. Kabuki and Noh focus on these aspects."


Performed since the 14th century, Noh is one of the oldest forms of classic Japanese musical drama. It boasts an all-male cast and actors perform with masks. A Noh stage is always carefully tailored. It uses wooden floors that are highly polished so that actors can move in a gliding fashion.