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Introducing Japan’s kabuki production “Shi-Shi-O”!

This video, “Wonder Kabuki Spectacle『獅子王SHI-SHI-O』in Las Vegas,” depicts scenes from the 2016 Las Vegas performance of Japan’s kabuki production “Shi-Shi-O.”

Following the success of the 2015 performance of “Koitsugami”(鯉つかみ, Koitsugami), less than a year later, the next performance “Shi-Shi-O” was revealed.
The performance, combined with a fountain show, was magnificent sight, capturing the hearts of the audience at the MGM Grand.

What Is Kabuki?

Kabuki is a type of traditional Japanese theatre, long-beloved by the commoners of the country.
Kabuki’s roots trace all the way back to Kyoto during the Warring States Period (1467-1615), originating from a dance form created by Izumo no Okuni. At the time, this form of dance was known as “katamuki (傾き)”, with the performers being known as “katamuki-mono (傾き者).”

Women’s kabuki, young boy’s kabuki, men’s kabuki and more – the types of kabuki increased as the years passed. The performers’ roles camed to be labeled as male characters (男型, otokogata), female characters (女形, onnagata), and protagonists (立役, tachiyaku).
The traditional art of kabuki is now registered as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.
Modern kabuki performances incorporate dynamic stage effects, featuring water, fire, acrobatics, quick character changes and more. These effects draw loud cheers from the audience.

The Story of “Shi-Shi-O”

The story of “Shi-Shi-O” is derived from the Japanese legend “Stone Bridge” (石橋, Ishibashi). “Shi-Shi-O” tells the story of the offspring of the lion that appeared in the original legend.
The story is set at Mount Seiryo, Tenjiku (天竺清涼山, Tenjiku Seiryo-zan). Shi-Shi-O, the lion king serving the deity Monju (文殊菩薩, Monju bosatsu), devises a monster extermination trial for his offspring.
His offspring change into human forms to carry out their trial and retrieve their treasure.

The performance incorporates special effects such as the wire action seen at 2:48 in the video, as well as dynamic acting bristling with energy. From 9:00, you can see the standing ovation and excited reactions of the audience at the end of the performance.

The Actors Who Appeared in “Shi-Shi-O”

Some of Japan’s most famous kabuki actors appear in Shi-Shi-O.
For example, Ichikawa Somegoro (市川染五郎), interviewed at 9:36 in the video, as well as Nakamura Karoku (中村歌六), Ichikawa Komazo (市川高麗蔵), Nakamura Kasho (中村歌昇), Otani Tomoemon (大谷廣太郎), Nakamura Yonekichi (中村米吉), and Nakamura Hayato (中村隼人). “Shi-Shi-O,” the product of numerous rehearsals and brought to life by these popular kabuki actors, is truly a spectacular sight.

Other than “Shi-Shi-O,” in recent years, many kabuki actors have taken part in novel performances both in Japan and overseas.
In recent years, the show “Nausica,” based on the Ghibli film, as well as a kabuki show based on the hugely popular manga and anime “One Piece,” have garnered much attention.

Summary of the Overseas Performance of Shi-Shi-O

Image of Kabuki-za Theater
Photo:Kabuki-za Theater

In Japan, there are many famous kabuki actors; the most famous being Ichikawa Ebizo (市川海老蔵). If you visit theaters such as Kabuki-za (歌舞伎座, Kabuki-za), you can view these awe-inspiring kabuki performances in person.

If you're interested in watching a Kabuki performance after reading this article, be sure to check out prices and locations for your visit to Japan or Vegas! Ticket prices are surprisingly reasonable, and even those watching kabuki for the first time are sure to enjoy their experience.

【Official Website】Kabuki Official Website

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!

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Japan’s Traditional Form of Entertainment, Kabuki, Now Popular Even in Las Vegas! The Traditional Performing Art That Has Been Loved in Japan Since Long Ago Now Captures the Hearts of Foreigners as Well!
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