Jikabuki experience at Nakatsugawa, Gifu prefecture

Jikabuki is the local Kabuki performances done by the local people all over Japan. Gifu prefecture which is home to a large number of ancient Kabuki theaters encourages Jikabuki and as part of it conducts small shows at various parts of the prefecture.

Nakatsugawa’s manhole

I happened to saw one of such brochures of Jikabuki performances done near the Nakatsugawa station and went there on 21st October 2017. The performance was done at the Nigiwai Plaza just in front of the Nakatsugawa station.

The Nigiwai plaza

The building houses a tourist information center, some souvenir shops selling local sweets, Kids playroom and an open hall. The Jikabuki was hosted on the open hall where some 50 people came watching the show. The admission was free of cost. They played a small scene of the drama “Five dandy thieves at the Inase River”. They explained about the Kabuki and Jikabuki before starting the performance. Then gave a short training about ‘Ohmukou'(callouts)and Ohineri(coins wrapped in papers).

I. Ohmukou: The audience can call out if they like the poses of an actor. Four small and strong words were used.

  1. Mattemashita(I was waiting for you)
  2. Nippon Ichi(The best (first) in Japan)
  3. Dekimashita(You have done it)
  4. O atari(It was the best)

II. Ohineri: The audience can wrap coins in papers to make shapes like a butterfly. When they like the poses of the actors, along with calling out for them, the audience can throw the coin-wrapped ‘flowers’ to encourage them.

At the hall, small packets were sold for 100 yens which contain ten triangle-shaped paper strips and ten 5 yen coins along with a description about the Ohineri and how to make it.

Ohineri packet

The performance lasted for some 30 minutes when all the five thieves appeared on the stage and talk while making various poses. And the audience shouted out and threw Ohinerontoto the stage. Small placards were shown at the side of the stage to give instructions to the audiences about the call out timings. At the end of the show, they explained about each character, their dressing and introduced the actors to the audience. All were ladies: high school students, teacher, and city office employees. All the five ladies dressed in men costumes performed just like men so that the audience got the right ambiance of the scene.

At the end, there was a rock-scissor-paper(Janken) competition. A pack of local sweet, Kurikinton was given as the gift for the winners. I too got a pack of Kurikinton. Kurikinton is the seasonal local sweet of this area. This delicious sweet of autumn is made of sweet potato and chestnut.

Kurikinton(Janken prize)

The souvenir shops of Nakatsugawa sells Chestnut items, especially Kurikinton during October-November.

The Jikabuki actors posed with us for some photos too, which is a unique chance that you can get at these small shows. Even though you cannot get the overall Kabuki experience where a complete story is performed on the stage, this kind of small and free performances will enact only a single scene of a story. The story and costumes will be different on each day.

Nakatsugawa is surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides. On that rainy day, we got the chance to enjoy the foggy mountain ranges.

Jikabuki shows are conducted in various parts of Gifu prefecture all around the year. Those who wish to experience a free Jikabuki performance, please check this link. JIKABUKI.