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2010年4月27日 (火)

余録:歌舞伎座の千穐楽

Kanji highlights kabuki's fiery history
余録:歌舞伎座の千穐楽

The Japanese word used to describe the final day of a show or sumo tournament includes the kanji character for autumn, the right side of which means "fire." But when talking about the final day of a kabuki show, the symbol for "fire" is replaced for one meaning "turtle."
Avoidance of the "fire" symbol apparently comes from the fact that in the Edo period, when it was common for fires to break out at theaters, people wanted to avoid any reference to flames. Conversely, the variant character that used the symbol for "turtle" had an auspicious ring to it.
 歌舞伎で千秋楽を「千穐楽」と書くのは、小屋の火事が多かった江戸時代、縁起をかつぎ「火」という文字を避けたからという。秋の異体字に穐があって「亀」ならめでたいという事情もあった

Looking back at the history of kabuki theaters, it's no wonder people wanted to avoid seeing a character meaning "fire." During a 23-year period spanning the Genroku and Kyoho eras in Japan, around the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Nakamura-za and Ichimura-za theaters in Tokyo's Nihonbashi burned down a combined nine times -- roughly once every 2 1/2 years on average. During the mid-Edo period, fires broke out roughly once every six years on average, a figure that makes one wonder how the performances managed to continue.
▲たとえば日本橋の中村座と市村座は元禄から享保年間までの23年間に9度全焼した。何と2年半に1度の割合だ。江戸中期を通算しても約6年に1度の割で全焼しており、よく芝居ができたものだと思える頻度である。これでは「火」の文字を見るのもいやになろう

In 1889 the Kabuki-za, the main theater in Tokyo for kabuki performances, was built. However, the structure did not have a long lifespan; 22 years later it underwent major reconstruction. Another 10 years after this, the second incarnation of the theater burned down in a fire caused by an electricity short circuit. An earthquake hampered reconstruction efforts before the third Kabuki-za building appeared. Misfortune followed another 20 years later, when the theater was heavily damaged in bombing during World War II. A fourth Kabuki-za theater was built and remains standing today.
▲明治に歌舞伎座ができてからも、戦前の建物の寿命は長くなかった。1889年にできた初代歌舞伎座は22年後に大改修され、その2代目も10年後に漏電で焼失する。震災での工事中断を経て完成した3代目も20年後には戦災で焼け、今の劇場は戦後建てた4代目だ

Now plans are under way to demolish the current Kabuki-za, and build a new theater and 29-story building on the premises, scheduled to open in 2013. Kabuki fans sorry to see the current theater go have flocked to farewell performances, the last of which will be held on Wednesday. A closing ceremony will be held Friday, bringing the curtains down on 60 decades of performances -- the longest span for a kabuki theater by far.
▲名残を惜しむファンで大入りが続いたさよなら公演も、明日が千穐楽となった歌舞伎座である。30日に閉場式が行われ、歌舞伎の劇場としては断トツの長寿となる60年の歴史に幕が下りる。3年後には29階建てのオフィスビルを併設した5代目に生まれ変わるという

In the theater one can feel the aura of the great performances that have been staged there since the Showa era. The fifth incarnation of the theater will apparently have a facade built in the traditional Momoyama style of architecture, which will no doubt produce within many visitors fond memories of the brilliance and warmth that existed inside the old theater. It seems that the absorption of such memories into a new structure -- a process that goes back to the Edo period -- is kabuki's destiny.
▲何しろ昭和と平成の名演の霊気がしみこんだ劇場だ。5代目に継承されるという桃山風の正面外観も、華やぎとぬくもりをたたえた場内の空気も、いとおしく思い起こす方は多かろう。そんな思いをのみこんでいく劇場の代替わりは江戸以来の歌舞伎の宿命だろうか

When the current Kabuki-za theater opened, the late novelist and playwright Mantaro Kubota (1889-1963) wrote the following haiku highlighting the theater's history:
"Tokyo no / Mattadanaka no / Kasumi kana" (A haze, right in the middle of Tokyo).
▲「東京のまッたゞなかのかすみかな」。久保田万太郎が今の歌舞伎座のこけら落としで詠んだ句である。

The spring haze that has wrapped itself around performances of famous kabuki actors and the lively cheers from the audience are sure to maintain a strong presence in the minds of Kabuki-za's visitors.
数々の名優の舞台や、大向こうのかけ声を包み込んだ春がすみは人の記憶の中で輝き続ける。

("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
(Mainichi Japan) April 27, 2010
毎日新聞 2010年4月27日 0時16分

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