Kabuki at War: 1931-1945

James R. Brandon , Emeritus Professor of Asian Theatre ,University of Hawaii at Manoa

It has long been asserted that Kabuki is a classic theatre form that has no relevance to modern Japanese society.  However, recent research reveals this to be a myth. Between 1931 and 1945 more than 100  contemporary war plays ( sensôgeki ) were written and performed on Kabuki stages. Examples are:  The Manchurian Incident (1931),  Three Heroic Human Bombs (1932) , Tank Commander Nishizumi (1940),  Pearl Harbor (1942),
and Banzai for the South Seas (1944).  Kabuki actors raised war funds and Kabuki
troupes toured battle zones in Manchuria and China. When Japan lost the war, Kabuki
producers and scholars successfully propagated the myth that a "classic" Kabuki had
played no part in the war, thereby mitigating the severity of American Occupation
censorship of Kabuki.

Friday, March 04, 2011 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Building 250 - Room 100, Main Quad

Center for East Asian Studies