Cinema Kabuki: Triple Lion Dance & The Courtesan Akoya

Start Your New Year with Kabuki!

Come join us for an unforgettable experience of Cinema Kabuki. 

Kabuki Theatre, with origins dating back to the 1600s, has remained steeped in tradition while constantly innovating. Live productions, featuring some of today’s greatest Kabuki stars, are now being filmed with the highest resolution cameras for screening in theatres around the world on state-of-the-art digital projection systems and six-channel sound.

Date & Time:
Saturday, January 11
@2:00pm (Triple Lion Dance)
@4:00pm (The Courtesan Akoya)


Aratani Theatre
(244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012)


*Registration Required.
Click HERE to Register.


Triple Lion Dance
(Renjishi / 連獅子)

Featuring Nakamura Kanzaburo, Nakamura Kankuro, Nakamura Shichinosuke
Recorded live at Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre, Tokyo, 2007
55mins / Subtitled in English


U.S. Premiere!
The Courtesan Akoya
(Akoya / 阿古屋)

Featuring Bando Tamasaburo
Recorded live at Kabuki-za Theatre, Tokyo, 2015
93mins / Subtitled in English



What is Cinema Kabuki?

Since 2005, Kabuki production company Shochiku Co. Ltd. has released Cinema Kabuki which offers English speakers the unique opportunity to experience full-scale Kabuki performances by some of Japan's biggest stars in high definition on the big screen with English subtitles. This, however, is no regular film screening; Cinema Kabuki allows the audience to vividly experience the excitement of the live stage through the full use and wide-range capability of high-definition (HD) images and 6-channel sound. Enjoy the authenticity of Kabuki as if you were sitting in the best seat of the Metropolitan Opera House!


About Works:

  Triple Lion Dance (Renjishi / 連獅子)
Written by Mokuami Kawatake, “Renjishi” is considered one of the most popular kabuki pieces. One of the biggest Japanese directors Yoji Yamada created Cinema Kabuki based on a show at Shimbashi Enbujo in October 2007. Nakamura Kanzaburo played the father lion, while his actual sons Kankuro and Shichinosuke played the child lions.

The father lion pushes his sons into a bottomless pit and only raises the one that is able to climb up. This ritual adds another layer of emotions by having the actor and his sons play their respective roles. You can’t miss the climactic scene of the dramatic but well-coordinated majestic shaking of their furs (father lion’s fur is white while the sons’ furs are red). 


  U.S. Premiere
  The Courtesan Akoya (Akoya / 阿古屋)

As “Akoya” requires extreme technique, expressions, and beauty, there’s not many who can perform this act. “Akoya” is also called “Kotozeme” in reference to the fact that the performance features the Koto, Shamisen, and Kokyu. This is an important onnagata role that requires the ability to perform these three separate instruments, showing off the elegance and sensuality as a courtesan, and expressing her emotional turbulence and love for Kagekiyo.

After the Heike went into extinction, Heike’s military commander Kagekiyo was searched for by Kamakura’s Minamoto clans, and his lover Akoya was used to lure him. Akoya insists that she doesn’t know where Kagekiyo is located. The magistrate Shigetada insists that if she were to be lying, the sounds would reflect her wavering heart. In order to prove this is the case, she is forced to perform a piece that requires her to play the Koto, Shamisen, and Kokyu. Akoya is miraculously able to maintain composure and commit to a wonderful performance, allowing her to be released.


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