This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit disabilityarts.online.

Disability Arts Online

> > Gini

Symbolic clothes, Kimono and Peter Pan

Discovering the imposing bronze statue behind Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa reminded me that I really do wish to attend a Kabuki performance. The traditional Japanese building of our local Kabuki theatre is controversially being replaced by a modern brick box and not due to reopen until next year. I'm hoping it will be amazingly accessible.

I checked out the alternative theatres and discovered that I had missed the May season. I had hoped to go to a morning performance as the event usually lasts around four hours. I would need a translation too!

The Kabuki stage has a 'catwalk' running from the deck to the back of the auditorium, where the hero of 'Shibaraku' appears to deliver his monologue. Unlike Shakespeare plays, this piece was conceived spontaneously in the middle of another play, by the actor whose family developed the drama and now seems to have exclusive rights to the role.

The hero wears an impressive padded costume to add height and width to his stature. I think Japanese people are perhaps more aware of the symbolic possibilities of clothes and they are fond of dressing up.

There are quite a few young people wearing kimono, but so many women in 'dolls clothes' one gets the impression there are almost no grown- ups in the country.

Outfits that look like mini, frilly nightwear and cute little- girl hairstyles make it seem like Japanese women pass from childhood to old age with no adult years between.

And indeed, a lot of them are reluctant to take on roles as wives and mothers, to the extent that the government is seriously worried about the shrinking population numbers.

Is our fascination with being/looking youthful leading humanity on the road to extinction? Is this particular Utopia a dead end?

 

 

Kimono: the hair

the style, the pins,

socks and shoes

as well as the

signature wrap

garments with

belts, all belong

together. Conspire

to make tiny steps

into a future

looking back

at somewhere

slower.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 31 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 31 May 2012

Shibaraku.

I have made a journey back to Asakusa, it involves changing trains and previously the station staff have been very helpful, but this time the helpfulness petered out when I arrived at the first station.

The man-with-the-ramp was not there and I was on the point of blocking the sliding  door, to prevent the train leaving, when he came running onto the platform barking 'wait'.

At Asakusa station, following signs for the Temple exit, I came to a full stop at a flight of stairs and proceeded to get lost in underground corridors.

There is this strange business of the narrow focus, where people are capable of just not seeing you. Asakusa station staff 'couldn't' see me, and later when I got myself wedged into a tight corner in a tiny shop, the elderly owners 'couldn't' see me even when they were stood in my way and I was speaking to them.

There are a lot more tourists around this time, is this evidence of tourist-fatigue? Or am I discovering cracks in the skin of Utopia?

I was rescued by a kindly Japanese person who offered to take me to the elevator and proceeded to accompany me up to street level and point out how I could get to my destination.

In the past Asakusa was famous for theatre and night life, today the Temple attracts a lot of disabled visitors as well as school children and elderly people.

Today there was also a pair of tourist-geisha, looking exquisite and promenading - with groups of male business-men tourists trying to catch their attention.

Maybe on another day I'd have found all that male strutting and posing funny, but this seemed to be 'pick up a tourist' day and I was fielding unwanted attention from locals and foreigners. A persistent Japanese male had me practicing the narrow focus myself and wishing I knew the Japanese for 'get lost'.

 

 

Sumida rolls to Asakusa,

shiny water shivered

by quaking earth

under sunshine sky.

The cormorant

arcs basking wings,

alert, ready to fly.

While I, underground

encased in metal tube

am rocked in my

subway cradle.

  

Posted by Gini, 27 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 27 May 2012