The Theater: JAPANESE IMPORT: THE DANCE-DRAMA

TO the stage world, Japan's Kabuki theater is a respected example of traditional dance-drama. Its beginnings go back more than 350 years to an Izumo priestess, O-Kuni, who is said to have developed the Kabuki theater from ceremonial shrine dances. At first, most of O-Kuni's female players were young courtesans, and as time went on, their costumes, gyrations and behavior developed an air of such gay abandon that "many people were led astray," say Japanese authorities. In 1629, women were forbidden to take part in the Kabuki theaters, and male actors have played all the female roles ever since.

One dance-drama of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!