This book is a report on the theatre in all its forms in Japan. It is a survey of what theatre arts exist there today and how they arose. Because Kabuki is the dominant type of drama in Japan today, and has been for some three centuries, I have given most attention to it.
This book is intended to be a key to the theatre of Japan. Since the theatre is one of the stronger forces and influences in Japan's civilization, it is hoped that the result of this book will be to help the Westerner to understand better the instincts and impulses of the Japanese people--if only by indirection and inference.
A foreigner's introduction to Japan's theatre is a curious experience. In fact, his first reactions to the country itself are strange.
The Westerner arriving in Japan is at once in a completely foreign world. He is struck by the uniformity of the Mongolian racial type. The colorful kimono, the national costume, has not yet disappeared despite Western and Allied Occupation influences. It smoothly wraps the small and sturdy builds of most Japanese women, and of a good number of men. Sounds heard on the street are dominated by the grating clicks of wooden clogs. Occasionally the nostalgic foreigner hears a shuffle of leather against stone. Architecture is dominated by flimsy structures of bamboo, straw, paper, and breakable tiles. After leaving the business centers of the cities, the foreigner looks in vain for the stability of timber and heavy concrete. Even to the traveled foreigner, there is a discomfort in the unfamiliarity of the signs in Japanese. No lettering; not even a related or derivative alphabet . . .