In the world of Kabuki (歌舞伎, classical Japanese theater drama), costumes play a significant role to make distinction between each role. With only one glance at the extremely gorgeous costumes, you know the actor in the costume is playing a role of princess or Oiran (花魁, the supreme ranked Geiko). If you take a look at an actor in a venturesome costume, you can tell he is an actor with Aragoto (荒事, bold and manly way of acting in Kabuki) style.
There is a famous eye-catching acting technique called Hikinuki (引き抜き), at which an actor wears two layers of Kimono tied with each other with a thread, and pull the thread to take off the upper layer in an instant, so as to appear in the under layer as if the upper layer is vanished. Whenever this Hikinuki is performed, audience let out a huge cheer.
As many of my readers might know, Kabuki is a play performed only by male actors. Hence, to look feminine is very important for actors playing female characters.
When an actor wears a red Kimono, it means his role is a princess or a young lady from high society. If it’s a colorful pretty Kimono, it means a young girl from a common family in town. Green Kimono means a girl from a country. In the Kabuki world, there are such detailed standards. Sometimes, it’s fun to enjoy Kabuki focusing on attire of female-role actors.
Click here to see a Blog by a Former Maiko, “Do You Know?”