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Japan Studies: Kabuki: Featured Topic: Gender

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"Only men can perform Kabuki."


No female actor has ever adopted the stage name of a renowned kabuki actor:


- Can women not "perform" women because they are women?!

- Do men make better women on stage?!


Start the discussion by watching---


Learn about onnagata (female-role specialists)


Near the close of the video Kabuki: Onoe Baiko the Seventh as The Salt Gatherer ("Women cannot play women....")


The discussion in The Written Face (see below) regarding the advantage of being a man in performing a woman on stage. 

Watch Tamasaburo Bando V

Tamasaburo Bando V is one of the best kabuki actors specializing in female roles (onnagata). 

- The Written Face PN2924.5 K3 W75 1995 (Memorial Library Microforms/Media Center Room 443, DVD)

A documentary film featuring Tamasaburo. Watch how well he executes femininity and listen to what he has to say about a man playing the role of a woman.

- Yo-Yo Ma - Inspired by Bach DVD 672 (Mills Music Library Audio Desk)

Tamasaburo Bando dances to Bach's Cello Suite No. 5 played by Yo-Yo Ma. Watch Tamasaburo's interpretation and struggle to enact the emotions of this piece, and witness his approach to femininity.

Watch a film!

Musume Dojoji: Jaen no koi
[Maiden Dojoji: Love Like Serpentine Flame]
娘道成寺ー蛇炎の恋 (film info in Japanese)
Watch the film