May 6, 2012

Discovering Japanese Kabuki in Paris

“You can know ten things by learning one”
 Japanese Proverb

The best part of having your kids enrolled in an International school is that - as their parent - it is soo much easier to meet people as soon as you arrive in a new country.

We are all in the same boat and we know it. An average Expat posting is around 3 years, so you make friends easily and fast. The real friends will stay on for life, even if most of the people you meet during your stay will fade away with time.

I have made myself an American/Japanese friend which for me is new territory and it fascinates me. I have never travelled to Asia but I am intrigued by the Japanese sense of tradition and respect for their country and its rituals. 

The latest exhibition at the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation in Paris is dedicated to costumes used in Japanese Kabuki theater. What better way to discover the nuances of this custom than accompanied by my new-found friend?

Kabuki is a style of Japanese traditional theatre which emerged at the beginning of the Edo period (1603 – 1868). The word Ka-bu-ki is composed of three ideograms known as ateji (characters used solely for their phonetic value) and signifying, respectively, singing (歌, ka), dancing (舞, bu) and technical virtuosity or orchestration of movement (伎, ki). It is believed that Kabuki is a variation of the verb, ‘kabuku’ (to contort oneself or to conduct oneself in a gregarious manner), and it refers to a style of theatre once considered avant-garde as well as to the expressionist body movements of the actors.

The exhibition shows a selection of elaborately decorated costumes and accessories from the 20th century and features stamps, theatre programs and films illustrating the art of Kabuki, which has been popular in Japan since the 17th century. The 30 costumes on display in the deep red and black lacquered gallery illuminate the rarified, male-only world of the Kabuki repertoire. Costumes range from sumptuous and richly embroidered silk kimonos—like a majestic ivory silk number engulfed in painted flames with singed edges—to more modest examples in cotton and one very rare paper kimono bearing only the words of a love letter.

Naturally we had to top off our culture expedition with a culinary voyage. My friend introduced me to Paris' best Japanese sushi chef at Comme des Poissons. Who cares if I can't read a thing on the menu. The Pouilly Fumé will do just fine, thank you!

ありがとう my friend, for introducing me to a whole new universe!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...