Kashimo Meijiza Theater

Meijiza is a wooden theater built in 1894. It is one of the few theaters with a revolving stage and  a runway which are still used today. Meijiza was designated as a cultural asset of Gifu Prefecture in 1972.

Theaters in the Region

There were more than 60 theaters in the Tono region. Meijiza, Hououza and Hakuunza in Gero, Tokiwaza in Fukuoka, Azumaza in Higashishirakawa are the existing theaters. These theaters were built by the local people of the time, showing their interest and enthusiasm toward local kabuki performance. Meijiza was an outstanding theater in its size, facilities and architectural style.

JI-KABUKI in Kashimo

JI-KABUKI is a kabuki performance performed by the local people. Centuries ago, professional actors were invited to perform kabuki on stages set up in shrines. The local people learned how to perform kabuki and began to put their own performances in theaters built by themselves. Ji-kabuki was once prohibited by the Tokugawa Shogunate, but the people, even though they were censured, preserved their costumes and continued performing.

In the early 20th century, theaters to perform ji-kabuki were built all over the Tono region. Since the actors were all amateurs, they had a hard time practicing, but they never gave up performing. Ji-kabuki is still performed today, and it had become a tradition in the Tono region.

Classical Music Concert in Meijiza

Inheriting the will of Chikashi Tanaka, a renowned violinist and a professor emeritus of Tokyo University of the Arts, a classical music concert called "The Chikashi Tanaka Music Festival" is being held annually here at Meijiza. "I want the children in the countryside to have an opportunity to listen to the "real" classical music, not the digital sound." Tanaka's enthusiasm was the beginning to "The Classical Music Concert for Children" which has reached its 15th performance. Kei Shirai, a violinist, is conducting the orchestra since 2010. The orchestra is organized by freelance performers and members of the symphony orchestra.

Entrance

The sign "MEIJIZA" on the entrance wall was written by former village mayor Taro Niwa.

Signboard

The signboard lists the performances of the past.

HANAMICHI

Facing to the stage, the path to the left is called "HON-HANAMICHI", the main path to the stage. The path to the right is called "KARI-HANAMICHI", a secondary path to the stage.

SUPPON

"SUPPON" is a hole located on the path, about 1/3 away from the stage.

GEZA

"GEZA" is a place on the left side corner of the stage where musicians perform sound effects for the play.

HIRABA & AYUMI

"HIRABA" is a first floor auditorium. The audience walk on "AYUMI" to go to their seats.

Second floor auditorium

The second floor has a U-shaped seating arrangement called "MASUSEKI", formally used as a space for special guests.

Backstage

The space under the stage is called "NARAKU". The stage set is rotated here by manpower. It also leads to "SUPPON".

Graffiti

On the dressing room wall, the are graffiti written by the cast.

MUSUME-HIKIMAKU

It is a stage curtain donated by the women in Kashimo. Their names and family crests are printed on the curtain.

NARAKU & Revolving stage

The space under the stage is called "NARAKU". The stage set is rotated here by manpower. It also leads to "SUPPON".

Room for hand props

Most of the hand props are handmade.

Architectural overview

 

Structure

traditional kabuki style theater

Size of the building

25.71meters x 19.60 meters

Auditorium

1st floor: 147 square meters

2nd floor: 140 square meters

Stage size

19.60 meters in width

x 7.85 meters in depth

Revolving stage size

5.5 meters in diameter

HANAMICHI (main path)

1.45 meters wide

KARIHANAMICHI (secondary path )

0.4 meters wide

Backstage

2 story building