Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Kabuki Performance 'Toki wa Ima Kikyo no Hataage' Comes to the National Theatre Japan

Performances run March 4-27, 2021.

Kabuki Performance 'Toki wa Ima Kikyo no Hataage' Comes to the National Theatre Japan

National Theatre Japan will present Kabuki Performance "Toki wa Ima Kikyo no Hataage."

This is a piece written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV, and it depicts the Honnōji Incident, in which Oda Nobunaga was killed by his trusted retainer Akechi Mitsuhide at the Honnōji Temple, and the days leading up to this historic event.

In the story, Takechi Mitsuhide (Akechi Mitsuhide) receives an unreasonable reprimand from his master Oda Harunaga (Oda Nobunaga), who gives him a cut on the forehead with a tessen (an iron-ribbed fan). Furthermore, Mitsuhide is forced to drink sake from a badarai (tub used for washing horses) in public. It is then exposed that his wife's hair was once sold so that they could make a living and survive the hardships of life.

Unable to stand the humiliation any longer, Mitsuhide finally plots a rebellion against his cruel master. The desperate determination of the warrior is portrayed through realistic psychological descriptions and stylistic rendering techniques. After composing a poem "Toki wa ima / Ame ga shita shiru / Satsuki kana" (meaning "the time is now, this is May when the rain falls;" or metaphonically meaning "Now the clan Toki (referring to Mitsuhide himself) shall rule over the country,") Mitsuhide slashes the envoys of Harunaga to death and then tramples a sanbō (small wooden stand) to pieces while laughing loudly, expressing his pent-up rage. You are sure to be amazed at this jidai-mono (historical drama) masterpiece that still holds true in modern-day society.

The Edo Ichimura-za theater first performed this Kabuki play in July 1808. Tsuruya Nanboku IV, a master-hand at sewa-kyogen (domestic drama depicting common peoples' lives), demonstrated his skill in jidai-mono, as well. The premiere performance by Matsumoto Kōshirō V won popularity, and since the Meiji period actors such as Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Nakamura Kichiemon I have put their own stamp on the piece, commonly known as "Badarai," through their sublime performances. Typically, only the scenes of "Badarai" and "Atagoyama Renga" (the Linked Verse Session at Mount Atago) are now performed. Today's performance, however, highlights the origin of the Incident by starting with the scene "Kyōō" (the Banquet).

A series of scenes portrays Harunaga's arrogance and the process by which the intelligent Mitsuhide changes himself into a ruthless rebel by turning his anger inward on himself. Mitsuhide's disguise in the scene of "Badarai" a?? a combination of an ende (a style of wig which shape resembles a swallow's wings) and bluish purple costume a?? serves to make him look even more dreadful.

Under the supervision of Nakamura Kichiemon II, who has gained high regard in the role of Mitsuhide, Onoe Kikunosuke, who also has drawn attention for his tremendous prowess, plays the role for the first time. Prior to this performance, please enjoy the commentary, Introduction: 'Akechi Mitsuhide' in Kabuki Plays, which highlights the charm of this masterpiece. Whether you are a Kabuki novice or longtime devotee, you are sure to enjoy this wonderful opportunity to savor the real pleasure of such a masterpiece through staging appropriate for the arrival of spring, presented by both fresh and veteran performers.

Performances run March 4-27, 2021. There will be no performance on 10 (Wed.), 11 (Thu.) and 19 (Fri.)


  • Introduction: 'Akechi Mitsuhide' in Kabuki Plays
  • Kataoka Kamezo
  • Kabuki Performance "Toki wa Ima Kikyo no Hataage"
  • Onoe Kikunosuke
  • Bando Hikosaburo
  • Nakamura Baishi
  • Nakamura Mantaro
  • Bando Shingo
  • Nakamura Takanosuke
  • Nakamura Kichinojo
  • Kataoka Kamezo
  • Kawarasaki Gonjuro
  • Nakamura Matagoro
  • and others

Ticket Prices(tax included)
1st Grade = 7,000 yen i??Students: 4,900 yeni??
2nd Grade = 4,000 yen i??Students: 2,800 yeni??
3rd Grade = 2,000 yen i??Students: 1,400 yeni??

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Japan Stories

More Hot Stories For You