Kabuki is well-known around the world as one of Japan’s most distinct forms of traditional theatre. The elaborate costumes, dramatic makeup and stylised poses have been captivating audiences for more than four centuries, yet when it comes to finding out what goes on behind-the-scenes, very few people have been able to step behind the curtain.
Now, one of today’s most popular kabuki stars is keen to change all that by letting the world share his dressing room, follow his daily routine and even peek inside his family home. Come with us as we take a look at some of the fascinating photos from Ebizo Ichikawa XI, one of Japan’s most revered cultural icons.
Thirty-seven-year-old Ebizō is a bit of a rock star in the world of kabuki. He belongs to one of the most respected families in the performance industry yet he once made headlines after a drunken brawl left him with facial injuries in 2010.
Instagram Japan official account started to feature Ebizo Ichikawa throughout a week from today! Please check it out!! @instagramjapan ・・・ 「世界の人に歌舞伎を観てもらいたいです。」そう語るのは、歌舞伎役者で俳優の十一代目・市川海老蔵 (@ebizoichikawa.ebizoichikawa) さん。日本の伝統芸能を受け継ぐ一人として、彼が今最も力を入れていることは、海外に向けて歌舞伎を発信すること。言葉の壁など、その難しさを実感しながらも、少しでも多くの人に知るきっかけを作れるよう、彼は歌舞伎役者としての日常を写真や動画にしてシェアしている。「写真なので、色味を見て欲しいです。あとは想像外のメイクとか、衣装とか、日本ならではの雰囲気を味わって頂けるようにできたらいいなと思っています。海外の活躍されている方々で、日本の文化からインスピレーションを受けている人は結構多いらしいんですよね。そういったものの原型が歌舞伎にあったりもするので、それをもっと理解して頂けるようにしたいと思っています。」 . 今週 @instagramjapan では、日本を世界に伝える市川海老蔵さんの特集を5回のシリーズでお届けします。知られざる歌舞伎の世界を是非お楽しみください。 Photo of @ebizoichikawa.ebizoichikawa by Shinsuke Yasui #kabuki #ebizoebizo #japan #classic #ebizo #instagram #ebizoichikawa #ichikawa #art #abkai
Now he’s a happily married, hands-on father to two young children, with a passion for connecting the global community to his classical art form. With photos like the ones below, he’s educating people around the world and humanising kabuki for his followers.
▼ Onstage, Ebizō displays great poise and prowess as Jayanagi from Snake Willow.
▼ In the wings, he shares a more light-hearted selfie with his fans.
▼ Seeing him dressed up and in character in the dressing room is a special treat for his followers.
▼ After his performance, it’s time to take off all that makeup and hop in the sauna!
▼ He’s so hot even the steam forms love hearts around him.
And then it’s off to spend time with family. Being born into the prestigious Ichikawa family with a stage history of more than more than 400 years means Ebizō’s son, Kangen, will also become a kabuki actor in the future.
▼ Pictures of Kangen practicing some mini kabuki moves are melting the hearts of fans.
▼ So what else does a kabuki star get up to in his down time?
▼ Television appearances, acupuncture and beers keep Ebizō running at top speed.
Recently, Ebizō worked with controversial filmmaker Takashi Miike to create “Chikyu Nagegoro” (Space Desperado) as part of a unique program called Roppongi Kabuki.
▼ Even when he’s back on the traditional kabuki stage, Ebizō shows his sense of humour behind-the-scenes.
Who knew a kabuki star could have so many faces? If you’d like to find out more about this amazing actor and his fascinating art, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.