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AsiaB&WFeaturedShotKabuki players by Hiroshi Watanabe

Those Kabuki players seen in the photographs are not with the mainstream Kabuki companies in Tokyo. They are with localized small groups located in various parts of Japan.

Those Kabuki players seen in the photographs are not with the mainstream Kabuki companies in Tokyo. They are with localized small groups located in various parts of Japan.

They are not professional actors and they don’t get paid for their plays. They actually spend quite a lot of their own money to be in the plays. Kabuki is known for lavish make-up, costumes, and stage set-ups. As such, those who want to be in the plays must be committed and prepared.

They spend their time and money because of their love for being in the theater—attention they get, pride, prestige, and joy of being part of the tradition. 

One such company is based in a town called Nakatsugawa. The town is cozily nested at the foot of Japan Alps Mountains. It was situated at the halfway point between Tokyo and Kyoto of the old main road called Nakasendo in Edo era, and because of this strategic location, it flourished as a trading post about three hundred years ago. The town became rich, but had no cultures as they are away from big cities. They had to wait for Kabuki Company to arrive, which comes only once a year. Being tired of waiting, they finally decided to do Kabuki by themselves. They built a theater and hired make-up artists, costumers, and stage craftsmen from Kyoto just for themselves, and they started to play their favorite stories. Thus it became their tradition.

Hiroshi believes good portraits are the ones that show the characters and personality of the subjects–their human beings. It is often a difficult task, as people are so well educated about photographs. People know how to pose, how to make impressions, and how to look good, and hardly reveal what they really are. 

Those Kabuki players are hidden in heavy make-up and wardrobes in a made-up world. When they sit in front of the camera between plays, they are so much saturated (and worried) in their roles, that they pay very little attention to camera’s existence. They are struck with stage fright and they repeat their lines over and over while being photographed. Remember it is not what they do every day. On the other hand, they are not afraid as their faces are shielded by the heavy make-ups. They can be themselves without worrying about other people, as if they are in the masquerade. They feel that no one knows who he or she really is, or at least people know that they were in a fictional world. At those moments, they reveal inner themselves.

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Eri Tanaka
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Eri Tanaka

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Hirokazu Nishijima
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Hirokazu Nishijima

Isamu Taguchi Jun Masuda as Oyanagi Kana Miyagawa as Kitsune Maiko Takaku as Yanaginosei Maiko Takaku Mari Ito

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Marina Ema & Kazusa Ito
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Marina Ema & Kazusa Ito

Natsuki Enomoto as Kojishi Natsuki Tukamoto as Tarokanja Natsuki Tukamoto Norie Maruyama as Okou Rikuto Tada Ryo Ueguchi as Sendo Ryota Nakajima as Mannojo Sachiyo Oyama as Osome Susumu Takagi as Matsuomaru

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Susumu Takagi as Satuki
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Susumu Takagi as Satuki

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yoji Taguchi
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yoji Taguchi

Yoji Taguchi / Yuka Onozawa & Ikki Tada
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yuka Onozawa & Ikki Tada

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yuka Saruwatari
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yuka Saruwatari

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yuki Nonaka
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yuki Nonaka

Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yukino Tada
Kabuki players / Hiroshi Watanabe / Yukino Tada

 

One comment

  • Avatar
    serge janssens

    Dec 20, 2016 at 23:55

    Je suis chaque fois émerveiller en visitant votre site et des photographes que vous avez sélectionné . C’est le cas encore avec Hiroshi Watanabé que je remercie sincèrement …

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