- a village young man performed princess Toki begs her(his)husband to stay home longer
We three villagers of Kawakami had been eager to see the seasonal kabuki play famous in Ooshika village in Southern Nagano pref.,
which is performed by ordinary villagers as a dedication to the local shrine twice a year .
So, we set for the southern village 150km away from our eastern Kawakami village.
After getting off the highway toll road at Matsukawa Inter Change,we drove towards the foot of the Southern Alps Mountain Range for nearly an hour.
Proceeding on a winding narrow road along a lake and through some tunnels, we entered Ooshika Village.
Occasional waterfalls into the lake and the lake itself looked so refreshing that we were tempted to stop a while and feel a breeze, but no, we wanted to arrive early to secure a good seats in front of the Kabuki stage!,and went on straight to the shrine of the venue.
People have started gathering. We could spread our blanket on a story upper place from the stage.
Right in the far front wall we could see sheets of caligraphy written paper exhibiting who donated how much.
This place happened to be just beside the main hall of the shrine, and there performed a traditional “Dragon Dance” prior to the Kabuki play.
Securely spread our own blankets, I set out to buy something to eat and to read.
There I found the members of the Kabuki Conservation group selling their hand made pamphlets.
I bought a copy to get the information on the story and the actors,and took the opportunity to interview Mr. Taiji Kawashima,who was in charge there.
Mr. Kawashima is a village officer and member of the conservation committee. According to him, the Kabuki play is performed by the conservation committee,which is headed by the village mayor, with many of the village people participating. Their age ranges from 80s to elementary school children.
The committee conducts the play mainly twice a year for the dedication for the local shrines,but it also performs at a local community center one another time every year.
The history of the play is so long it dates back to the Edo period in Samurai times. The village people have maintained their original style of storytelling for these more than 250 years!
Now at village elementary school, the culture is taught by the committee members. At village middle school, the Kabuki club performs a play at annual culture school festival.
Well,says Mr. Kawashima, it is sometimes tough to keep maintaining the tradition in this small populated village of 1200 .
However, he seems extremely proud of the committee led by the eldest Tayu,or a story teller,and his appointed successor .
- actors all get together at the finale
As for the play, well really. To shed tears over the drama was not among the things I had planned to enjoy for the holiday!