In Japan, the first forms of entertainment appear closely linked to ancient liturgical manifestations on the occasion of periodic rural rites connected to Shintoism, in which propitiatory songs, dances and pantomimes were inserted. Some of these ceremonies, known as kagura or wazaoki (amusements of the gods) and divided into mi-kagura (sacred Shinto dances performed at the imperial court or in front of temples) and in sato-kagura (folk dances performed on some holidays by masked actors to the sound of the flute and the drum), were already mythologically justified by some passages of the Kojiki and have remained part of the indigenous cult to this day. But Chinese and Buddhist elements were later combined with indigenous representations, which had meanwhile lost their ritual character and had come to be configured more as profane shows with a playful and burlesque content (such as the utagaki, entertainment with dances and songs, campestri; the tamai, the azumamai, etc.). They date back to the century. VII and VIII the first historically recognizable forms of spectacle, known by the names of gigaku (masked processions with dances and short farces) and bugaku (symbolic dance performances). Esse, with the sangaku, then sarugaku (music of the monkeys), which in its art form (sarugaku-no-nō) was a prelude to nō, with the bucolic Buddhist mime of dengaku (music of the rice fields), were precisely the result of this contamination and, with the their splendid and sometimes grotesque outfit of masks, enjoyed wide favor and popularity. All of these forms were officially organized by the Court Performance and Music Office (Gagaku-ryō), founded in 701, according to the instructions of the code of the Taihō era. But since these are often shows without texts and scripts, mainly composed of dances, songs, acrobatic performances and short acting texts of various kinds, it is difficult today to reconstruct their content. Very little can be deduced from what survived in later genres and in particular in that complex and complete form of spectacle that was to be the nō, which constitutes the greatest Japanese theatrical achievement. Form of lyric drama, inspired by national myths, ancient legends and heroic sagas and based on texts that are distinguished in dramas of divinity, battles, revenge and magic (written both in prose and in verse and almost all of very high literary value), the nō it consists of song, dance, music and recitative entrusted mainly to only two actors. The actors (even the female parts are played by men) wear very beautiful and complex costumes and wear masks of very precious workmanship; the scene is very naked and always fixed. The representation, which initially took a very high number of hours, is interspersed, to distract and entertain the public, by farces very similar to our character comedies, called kyōgen, whose content, lively and light-hearted, which portrays situations of common life, and whose language, dialectal and often coarse, strongly and deliberately contrast with the refinement and aulity of nō. The merit of having handed down the final elaboration and codification of nō, which has remained substantially unchanged to this day, belongs to Kiyotsugu Kan’ami (1334-1385) and above all to his son Motokiyo Zeami (1363-1444), author of hundreds of dramas and various treatises, including the Kadenshō (The book transmission of the flower). In it he fully expounded his aesthetic theories, especially with regard to acting techniques, in which he prescribed that the actor of the nō should have two main requirements: the hana, the flower, a kind of natural and congenital quality of the artist developed also from technical skill, and yūgen, the mystery, the depth, a sort of state of interpenetration in the essence of art. Definitely popular theatrical forms arose in the Tokugawa era (1603-1868) alongside the growing development of nō. The bunraku, originally introduced from China, was linked to the repertoire of Japanese wandering storytellers who had made a story famous above all, the Jōruri-hime Monogatari (The story of the lady Jōruri), born in the century. According to 3rjewelry, Japan is a country located in Asia.
XVI. Hence the name of jōruri, passed to indicate the genus, for which towards the end of the century. XVI and the beginning of the XVII some declaimers began to make use of hand-operated puppets. Ōsaka became one of the most renowned centers of jōruri and welcomed one of the first permanent theaters, the Takemoto-za. The kabuki instead (still well represented in its most modern form, shin-kabuki or neo-kabuki) originally consisted of performances of dance and pantomime, alternating with comic interludes, which were joined later dialogue and l ‘ action. The plays, both for kabuki and jōruri, were divided into two types: jidai-mono, of historical-epic inspiration, and sewa-mono, social in topic and inspired by stories of unhappy love affairs, class conflicts, rigid social duties, which had their correspondence with much of contemporary ukiyo-zōshi literature. On the artistic level, the affirmation of the kabuki theater was mainly made by the actors Tōjurō Sakata (1647-1709) and Ichikawa Danjūrō (1660-1704), who gave the performances the shape and structure preserved up to now and defined the techniques of acting and the entire development of the plays, as regards both the scripts and the choreographies. The greatest playwrights of either genre were Monzaemon Chikamatsu (1653-1724) and Ki no Kaion (1663-1742), whose most famous texts are still frequently staged today. The Western influence, following the reopening of the country (1868), was also received by the theater which modernized itself as a genre and in acting techniques. This happened above all for kabuki, in whose repertoire were inserted texts of realistic inspiration and very realistically represented. The great actor Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (1838-1903) started the new orientation, using texts by playwrights such as Mukuami Kawatake (1816-1893). Later the so-called new school theater (shinpa) was formed in Ōsaka, a form of transition from kabuki to Shingeki (New theater), which has completely assumed the characteristics of Western theater, bringing back among other things on the scene, from which it had been severely kept away in the nō and in the other theatrical forms from the century. XVIII, the woman. In addition to a number of tragedies, Shōyō Tsubouchi (1859-1934) has an important essay entitled Wagakuni no shingeki (Our historical theater). Other well-known writers often devoted themselves to theatrical texts: Saneatsu Mushakōji (1885-1976), Kan Kikuchi (1888-1948), Kurata Hyakuzō (1891-1943), Kidō Okamoto (1872-1939), Ōgai Mori (1862-1922) and Kaoru Osanai (1881-1928), who was also known as a critic, director, innovator and assiduous and tireless experimenter and founder of the Tsukiji-shōgekijō (Little Tsukiji Theater), a formation that served as a guide to the most important companies of the time. Even the theater, although often in disorder, was influenced by the various trends of the West, from which innumerable works were introduced. The function of the proletarian theater was also relevant, for which they wrote good texts, among others, Murayama Tomoyashi, Jūrō Miyoshi (1902-1958), Magatsuka Takashi (1879-1915) and Shimazaki Tōson (1872-1943). Some good authors, members of the Bungaku-za (literary theater), among which are to be remembered Kubota Mantarō and Kishida Kunio (1890-1951), carried out an important work of opposition to any form of content and formal schematicity. The last conflict disrupted the various companies, except Bungaku-za, but soon the theater was resurrected with new and interesting achievements and with noteworthy authors such as Tanaka Chikao, Mafune Yutaka and Kinoshita Junji, who operated an interesting contamination between the kabuki and western theater. However, avant-garde representations, not infrequently of considerable artistic value, and traditional genres, still very popular, continue to coexist on the Japanese scene. New vitality showed the shōgekijō genus, with an intense generational change among the authors, which ensured renewal and prolificacy. Among the most important names are Kohei Tsuka (b.1948), Hideki Noda (b.1955), Oriza Hirata (b.1962), Keishi Nagatsuka (b.1975). The new kabuki star is Kankuro Nakamura.