Our seats were almost in the center of the first floor, right at the isle on row 15. The stage opened to a narrator speaking in English about the beauty of Japan and the Japanese coming from finding sadness inside great joy. Then Hiromi Goto appeared on the hanamichi playing the violin while Takki's voice told the same narration as the English narrator before him. Takki, Yabu and Kitayama appeared on the stage, dressed in white, in front of the cherry tree and the flew up into the air just before the falling curtain showed the kanjis of Takizawa Kabuki. Then there was the opening with 春の踊り. All the juniors and Snow Man danced on the stage, and Takki (dressed in red) flew out of the cart on the stage. He flew halfway towards us, high up in the air! Then he landed and danced for a bit, and the section of the stage where he was standing was raised and revealed the sign "Welcome to Takizawa Kabuki". For いにしえ the stage started turning. I love this song! And it's so cool when they have this screen where the dancers are multiplied over and over. And then Yabu appeared on the stage right in front of us singing the second Night and Day part of the song! After him was Kitayama singing the next verse. Yabu threw the red piece of cloth into the air indicating where Takki jumped off the second floor balcony to fly down to the stage. Yabu and Kitayama sang in harmonies and it was beautiful!
Then the juniors introduced themselves, and after them Kitayama and Yabu. Yabu introduced Takki, who walked onto the stage on a red carpet and welcomed us to the kabuki. Then they performed Feelin' Good, which is one happy song! They had these sticks in their hands which they clapped together to the music. Takki walked over to Kitayama first, and then he walked over to Yabu. Takki and Yabu clapped their sticks together higher and higher, and then Takki couldn't reach anymore and tickled Yabu in his stomach instead!
Kitayama stayed after the song and talked to us about how it's been 6 years since he participated last time, and that he too is a fan of Takizawa Kabuki. At the end of his speech he stuttered and stayed quiet for a moment before he could continue. When Yabu entered the stage after him he was laughing and pointing at Kitayama. Yabu introduced the Nezumi Kozo part of the show. Takki as Nezumi lowered himself onto the hanamichi from the top floor balcony, then climbed the rooftop on the stage to get to a treasure box. Then he was chased around the stage by the policemen led by Kitayama. It's a very acrobatic chase scene! Takki then appeared alone and he jumped off the stage to ask someone in the audience for help. He gave a letter to a girl and took her seat. When Snow Man, Yabu and Kitayama reappeared they asked the girl if she had seen Nezumi and she said he wasn't there. Then she read the letter, in which Hikaru from Hey! Say! JUMP told us that Yabu always hits his head when he gets in and out of cars - maybe he hasn't got used to his tall height just yet? It was hilarious! Then they all started chasing Nezumi again for a while. At one point he hid among Snow Man while they searched for Kitayama (who was actually on stage), and Takki pretended to search in someone's crotch area (I think it was Sakuma's...). Iwamoto stood behind Kitayama with his hands on his shoulders, shouting and searching for him. I think it was also during this scene Yabu entered the stage wearing short pants. Kitayama asked him "What happened to your clothes?" and Yabu answered "I seem to have grown..." At the end of the Nezumi scene a lot of "gold coins" were released over the audience.
With this, the spring segment ended and the summer segment started, with girls dressed as ghosts walking down the isles. Scary! Then Takki appeared on the stage as the serpent Kiyohime. To be honest I think this scene is a bit boring... The next scene was the MASK scene! All juniors danced around dressed like pirates. Then there was a short interlude where a female dancer performed with a drill stick, before Takki, Kitayama and Yabu entered the stage in fancy costumes and with masks on their faces. They did many masks changes and at the end all three of them did the mask-to-face change. Then the girl with the drill stick appeared again on the hanamichi and she did this performance where she threw the stick reeeaallly high up into the air!
The English narrator introduced the taiko drum scene. Takki did the first part solo, then he did the second part together with Iwamoto (on a regular drumset), before all the juniors, Kitayama and Yabu joined them on their taiko drums all over the stage. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole show! There's something special and very powerful about a whole group of taiko-playing men. After a while Takki went to the back of the stage and strapped himself onto the platform with the giant drum on it. Then he started playing it and the whole platform turned around and upside down. By now all the others were lying down and playing their drums - it looked incredibly tough to play while lying at that angle, like halfway up into a crunch. Wow!
Takki changed outfit for the performance of いつか which was almost a solo performance (at times he had background dancers) and the end of the summer segment. He was so sparkly!
Starting the autumn/kabuki segment of the show was the dressing room scene where Takki, Kitayama, Yabu and Snow Man sat on the stage and put on their make-up. The background music was WITH LOVE, and TheyBudou told the history of Takizawa Kabuki/Enbujo. While they all finished their make-up, Snow Man decided they should all do something to make it more fun, like a Q&A. The theme of the day was something like "a thing I don't like during this year's kabuki" if I remember correctly. I don't really remember what they all said - I just remember that Sakuma was sooo annoyingly loud all the time, haha!
Four juniors introduced themselves, and then Snow Man performed an autumn dance with leaves and all. It was very beautiful. After this was the Goemon scene. Fancy kabuki costumes, buildings and stage props. Many stunts with ladders and swords. They had this ladder that they raised into the air on the hanamichi, Kitayama climbed to the top, then Takki, and Yabu stayed at the bottom of the ladder. Then they tipped it over and they all rode on it to the center of the stage. It looked so scary when Kitayama hanged upside down while they lowered the ladder! But the coolest part was when Iwamoto threw a sword from the end of the hanamichi to the stage, and Miyadate caught it! Wow! It's also cool when Takki swings the sword in front of him with all juniors running at him, and not one of them happens to get hit. You'd need good timing for that.
Starting the winter segment was お七 where two juniors enacted a puppet reading a scroll. At the end Takki appear dressed as a woman (looking like the puppet). Takki's onnagata is beautiful! I liked this part, with shamisen music, the bell tower and all the fire and flames. The music is so dramatic, and at the end they had this red cloth from Takki's costume that draped almost the whole stage!
The final part of the first act was the Crane Dance. Yabu and his group of hunters performed a short dance with hunter's bows. They looked so cool! When they left the stage Takki as the crane king appeared with Kitayama and the juniors. These costumes were soooo beautiful! They even had bird's wings! There was also a crane queen, and Takki switched between being the king and being the queen (I don't even try to see how he does it anymore, or who is Takki and who is the double, I just sit back and enjoy the performance!). The suddenly Yabu appeared on the balcony and shot the crane queen, and a cloud of red confetti fell onto the stage. The crane king, furious with grief, changed his outfit slightly and came back to throw all the red confetti into the air while a giant crane rolled onto the stage behind him.
The second act opened with the calligraphy scene. That was one of my favorites! Kitayama did the calligraphy in the middle of the stage on this huge board, and he was dressed in sleeveless black, showing off his amazing arms! The kanji he wrote was 絆 and Takki and Yabu performed a duet of Passion while he did the calligraphy. I love that song so much! Takki was dressed in a long black coat and Yabu in a white one. I'm so happy I got to hear a duet by Takki and Yabu - two of the voices I love so dearly!
Four juniors with laserswords rollerskated in front of the upraised calligraphy board when it was finished. And then everyone was fighting with swords, and there was a final battle between Takki (sword) and Kitayama (lasersword and rollerskates).
Then finally Yabu's solo IZANAMI which also was beautiful. He was performing on top of a raised section of the stage that turned around.
After Yabu there was a duet (Believe yourself) by Takki and Kitayama. They also had this sling hanging from the ceiling where they hung and spun around, and Kitayama rollerskated.
Then there was a Takki/Kitayama/Yabu section with lots of expressive dancing (the songs in this section were 舞星 Mai-Star, IKUSA, Light of Hope, 心). Two juniors sang an English song while Takki, Kitayama and Yabu did shadow-figure performance. It was very cute, they did rabbits and dogs and cats and birds... That made some impression on me.
Next was the rollerskating section! Takki, Kitayama and Yabu put on their rollerskates on stage. Snow Man entered the stage shortly after on rollerskates too, wearing hilarious costumes! It was Fukazawa's birthday so Takki, Kitayama and Yabu told him to jump off the stage and thank the audience for the well-wishes properly. While he was doing that they brought a cake onto the stage, but the three of them blew out the candles and removed the cake from the stage again without letting Fukazawa anywhere near it! Suddenly they started reading, like, birthday wishes in the form of obituaries? First it was Kitayama, then Yabu, and they cried in each other's arms since Fukazawa had been such a great guy. And then Takki read a letter from Fukazawa's mother (who was in the audience that day). Fukazawa jumped onto the stage again and everyone was so surprised he was still alive, haha!
Anyway, then they started rollerskating. Everyone (except Kitayama) looked like they would fall down any second. They performed WANNA BEEEE!!! and SUPER DELICATE (they all made hilarious ugly faces, haha!). Many of them were falling all over the place - I think the winner was Sakuma. It felt like he spent more time falling and trying to get up again than actually rollerskating! Poor thing.
After all this they changed outfits and performed 愛想曲（セレナーデ） and 卒業. Then the juniors performed a cool dance with some black, white and red graphics on the screen behind them. The final section before the ending song was the conclusion of Yoshitsune. Last time I went to see Takizawa Enbujo the whole second act was about Yoshitsune, but this time they only included the final battle in the rain. But I didn't mind, I like that part - sword battle in the rain, can't get much better!
The ending song was WITH LOVE as usual. It's the part of the butai that I love and hate, because it's a beautiful song but hearing it means that the butai is ending... That's why I so often start crying when I listen to this song. I also think one reason why I love this performance so much is the sign language. I always tell myself I should learn it so I can take part the next time I see this performance, but so far that hasn't happened. Maybe until next time..?
I am so incredibly happy that I got to see this kabuki, and that I could bring justironic as well who also wanted to see it. I feel truly blessed.
There was also one time, I don't remember exactly when, when Yabu was running past me towards the stage. I was sitting right beside the isle and the isle was rather narrow, so when he ran past me it almost felt like he was touching me - though it was actually the streaming of the wind from running so fast. Nevertheless, he was soooo close to me and I had to draw some deep breaths after that...
Now let's see,my final thoughts about this kabuki?
・Takki is short (which I already knew) but Kitayama is really short!
・Kitayama also has very very nice arms... I enjoyed watching them as much as I enjoyed watching Takki's abs!
・The solo and duet performances were incredibly good, very good job there choosing the songs for each performer.
・Snow Man are hilarious in every sort of way! Gotta love them.
・Most of them shouldn't be allowed near rollerskates again, for their own good...
・I'll probably never stop worrying about Yabu breaking into two halves at the middle - he's soooo thin!
・I've developed a soft spot for Sakuma Daisuke... He's really cute even though he's so annoying!
・The next time I will be in Tokyo during Takizawa Kabuki, I will make sure to go again!
Ishigaki Daisuke (keyboard)
Goto Hiromi (violin)
Muraji Shonosuke (shamisen)