Is "Myth and Reality: A Story of 'Kabuki' during American Censorship, 1945-1949" the declaration of kabuki's death?

James Rodger Brandon (1927-2015), the late great scholar of kabuki theater, challenged the persistent myth that Faubion Bowers, one of the American theater censors during the military occupation of Japan following Japan's defeat in the WWII, prevented the extinction of kabuki. This allegedly heroic legend that describes Bowers as “the savior of kabuki” remained unchecked for half a century both in Japan and the U.S. until recently.


As late as 1998, the nonfiction writer Okamoto Shiro published a book about Bowers’ contribution to kabuki that reinforced this savior myth. A couple years after, the theater critic Samuel L. Leiter translated into English under the title, The Man Who Saved Kabuki: Faubion Bowers and Theatre Censorship in Occupied Japan (2001). Leiter seems to have considered this translation useful in viewing the myth critically.


Interestingly, at just about the same time Bowers’ heroism started being called into question. Among other critics, Brandon began to argue that this heroic myth needs to be problematized primarily because Bowers played a key role in fabricating and disseminating a series of anecdotes and stories about the heroic savior of kabuki being threatened by politically-driven censorship. Brandon critically scrutinized this false assumption about "Bowers the savior of kabuki" and revealed the truth.


Faubion Bowers, a self-proclaimed kabuki enthusiast since prewar times, has been said to believe that since kabuki traditionally caters for common people, it cannot subliminally encourage them to accept ignorantly feudalism and militarism. This assumption is suggested by his own book,  Japanese Theatre (1952, rpt. 2013).  Such liberal egalitarianism of his helped motivate kabuki actors, fans, and many other people who were psychologically traumatized by militarism to see him as a hero.


Brandon patiently and meticulously examined historical documents and rerecords concerning Occupation censorship. His analysis brings to the fore what Bowers sought to deliberately ignore these facts and why he didn’t care about them, because he was only interested in himself and your own activities.


He published a monograph entitled "Myth and Reality: A Story of 'Kabuki' during American Censorship, 1945-1949" in Asian Theatre Journal, v. 23, no. 1 (Spring, 2006). This is a 100-page, densely endnoted monograph based on primary historical sources, and is available online at: or


According to Brandon, Bowers (1917-1999) was born in Oklahoma and educated at University of Oklahoma, Columbia University, a prestigious French university, and the Julliard Graduate School of Music in the 1930s. Despite this ardent desire to pursue higher education, he left all these schools without receiving a degree.


In 1940 he traveled to East Asia to do research on Indonesian music. While there, he spent a couple of prewar years or so in Japan and became fascinated by kabuki. Although just before the Asia-Pacific War broke out he returned home, he came back to Japan as an interpreter for General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers from May 1947 through May 1948. Most likely his experience living in prewar Japan, and even enjoying kabuki, made him feel much superior in comparison to his peers. He was a proud theater censor assigned to examine kabuki, which had been his favorite.


This natural pride of his suggests that he was not only self-centered ignoring others but also self-conscious having a sense of rivalry or competition. Maybe this self-centeredness suggests that he had a superiority complex that conceals his feelings of inferiority in relation to someone else. More often than not, he felt an urge to ostentatiously display his artistic prowess. All in all, this particular aspect of his personality caused him to create the myth that characterizes him as the savior of kabuki.


On the one hand, Brandon’s pursuit of the truth has uncovered the long-standing myth about the kabuki savior that has unfortunately bewildered kabuki devotees both at home and abroad.

But on the other hand, Brandon came to believe that kabuki should be put on display as a museum piece because kabuki is so old-fashioned that it cannot interact with the 21st-century Japan and the world. Brandon writes:


We need to recall that president Otani [of Shochiku, Japan’s largest production    company (then and now) for theater and film] determined Shochiku’s reactionary course of conserving traditional kabuki before the Occupation began. Those who came to censor and to introduce democratic content saw themselves as liberating kabuki from tradition. In the contest, it was the Occupiers who were liberated from the narrow Occupation cause and changed forever by the encounter. The Occupiers came to love the harshly feudal repertoire they had come to destroy. But the only way kabuki changed was to withdraw completely from the modern world. Today, more than half a century after America’s experiment in social engineering petered out, kabuki still delights audiences. But kabuki in the twentieth-first century is not a living theatre. Thanks in part to its protectors, it is a gloriously flamboyant fossil, an artifact of a past world that has nothing to say about today. (p. 83, emphasis added.)


It is ironical indeed to identify and recognize the real hero other than Bowers for having accomplished their daring rescue mission. Yet it was not specific individuals but kabuki itself that prevented from dying out allegedly because of its anachronism. Ironically enough, Brandon’s concluding paragraph mentioned above strongly suggests that this very anachronism helped it avoid total extinction. The 21st-century doesn’t provide a venue for kabuki to further develop and flourish, but instead safe shelter in which to rest in peace.


But even today, “thanks in part to its [contemporary] protectors”, i.e. newer and younger kabuki devotees, kabuki tradition not only stays alive but also keeps evolving. I wonder why Brandon argues that kabuki has been left incarcerated, or entombed, in the museum, despite his decades-long expertise in kabuki and other performing arts. Does he contend that being already fossilized, kabuki deserves peaceful sleep in a storage facility for non-living items?



Let me hasten to add that Brandon recognizes the contribution of Bowers’ peer censors to the then endangered kabuki. He notes:


Bowers was not shy about accepting the title “Savior of kabuki,” saying in one published discussion, “Although I was a censor, I was its savior” (Bowers et al. 1999: 122). What has not been acknowledged is that [John] Boruff, [Harold] Keith, [Earle] Ernst, and [John] Allyn [Jr.] showed their appreciation of kabuki artistry in 1945 and 1946 independently of Bowers. [Stanley Y.] Kaizawa became so enamored of kabuki he studied kabuki dance (nihon buyo) and kouta singing, something Bowers never did (Interview with Stanley Y. Kaizawa, February 2, 2002). Forty years after the Occupation ended, Ernst was incensed that Bowers hogged all credit: “[Bowers] has continued to advertise himself as the person who singlehandedly “saved kabuki”. (p. 18).


A minor erratum: “Ima Hidekai” (p. 8) should be “Kon Hidemi (今 日出海, surname followed by given name first, 1903-1984), a writer and literary critic. I think his colleagues specializing Japanology or those of Japanese descent could have helped him to correct such a slight error.


Additionally, I have a question in regard to the caption attached to one of the pictures in the monograph. This caption on page 80 goes:

Figure 16. At dawn, in the summer 1947, a solitary man walks out of an obliterated urban landscape that was once Hiroshima City. Was it possible to place the devastation of atomic explosions on the kabuki stage? Kabuki producers did not think so. (Emphasis added.)

The italicized comment above makes me feel uncomfortable, even disgusted. This is an offensive joke. Was he not aware that his home country had committed genocide in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?


At any rate, Brandon’s critique of Bowers’ self-proclaimed heroship seems to have encouraged the Japanese media scholar Hamano Yasuki (1951-2014) to scrutinize the historical background of this widely believed myth. Hamano’s book, False Democracy: The Hidden History of Post-War Japan: GHQ, Cinema, and Kabuki (2008), includes two chapters —chs. 5 & 6-- that examine this persistent myth. Unfortunately no English translation is available.


Lastly, let's return to Faubion Bowers. The obituary of Bowers written by the American journalist Eric Pace (1936-2018) can be found at:


全ての管理責任を負わねばならない芸術監督Aurélie Dupontさんも大変だな。



Dance Magazine誌最新号が報じている



August 2018



You'd think the Paris Opéra Ballet would be in damage-control mode after a leaked dancers' survey, in April, brought up worrying reports of harassment and mismanagement. But instead of addressing these issues internally, the French company is suing one of its own dancers in order to strip him of his union representative status and subsequently be free to fire him.

Dalloz Actualité, a French online magazine specializing in legal matters, elaborated on the lawsuit in an article published last week. The corps de ballet dancer taken to court, whom we'll call "S." to protect his identity, wasn't actually a member of the Commission for Artistic Expression, the elected group of dancers who put together the survey. He is described as a "geek" who provided technical support to ensure the validity of the results.


上記記事中のan article published last week書き出し部分のみ引用:

Harcèlement à l’Opéra de Paris : la direction conteste la désignation syndicale d’un danseur


À la suite d’un sondage interne, diffusé le 13 avril 2018 dans la presse, il apparaît qu’une majorité des danseurs du ballet de l’Opéra de Paris a été victime ou témoin de harcèlement au sein de l’institution. Sur la défensive, la direction cherche les responsables de cette opération malveillante et voit en Samuel M…, artisan de ce sondage et nouveau représentant du syndicat Sud spectacle, un agitateur. L’Opéra de Paris a donc lancé une procédure pour « désignation syndicale frauduleuse » à l’encontre de Samuel M… et du syndicat. Mardi 10 juillet, le tribunal d’instance de Paris a examiné l’affaire.




by Henry Samuel, paris   16 APRIL 2018 • 4:45PM

Paris ballet dancers complain of bullying, sexual harassment and poor management


(1)It found that some 77 per cent said they had either been a victim of harassment in the workplace or seen a colleague mistreated, while 26 per cent said they had suffered sexual harassment or witnessed it.



Last month, the artistic director of Finland’s National Ballet, Kenneth Greve, was stripped of his managerial position following allegations of inappropriate conduct.


(3)2014年、伝統を最重視するパリ・オペラ座アメリカ流モダンダンスに傾倒するフランス人Benjamin Millepiedを芸術監督という重職に抜擢したことは世界のバレエ界を驚かせた。「伝統」の厚い壁を打ち破り一大変革を目指したミルピエの企ては成功せず1年余りで辞任する。彼にはオペラ座一流のトップダウン方式の秩序体制が我慢できなかったようだ。

"The Ballet's hierarchy with its five grades hails from an archaic military order and leads to a way of talking to the dancers as underlings which I don't accept," he told Le Figaro at the time.


ミルピエに関する余談:New York City Ballet育ちのBenjamin Millepiedはオペラ座を去ってロサンジェルスに渡りL.A.Dance Projectを立ち上げモダンダンス系の踊りを志向している。



Ms Dupont, who started her career at Paris Opera Ballet as an 11-year-old, promised she would return to a more traditional approach. 

"To me the Opera de Paris remains a classical dancers' company open to contemporary dance and it's not the other way around,” she said at the time.










『ボリショイ ー 二人のスワン』主要な出演者紹介

◆  Yulya Olshanskaya 

Margarita Simonova was born on December 23, 1988 in Lithuanian SSR, USSR. Principal dancer of Warsaw's Grand Theatre


The role of Yulya-teenager was performed by the Moscow gymnast Katya Samuylina.


Karina Kurnikova 

Anna Isaeva was born on September 23, 1992 in Moscow, Russia.

The role of Julia-teenager was performed by the Moscow gymnast Katya Samuylina.



Mitya 役 

Andrey Sorokin (born in 2009), former principal dancer of the Yekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatreエカテリンブルクロシア連邦の中央部に位置する大都市)


現在はThe Saint-Petersburg State Academic Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatreのプリンシパルの一人。





Andrei Sorokin(ミーチャ役)と(前号で触れた)Sergei Poluninの動画を含む記事:



◆ 往年のレジェンド・バレリーナプリンシパルGalina Beletskaya 

Alisa Brunovna Freindlikh (苗字の英語表記はFreindlichとも)



Alisa Brunovna Freindlich (Russian: Али́са Бру́новна Фре́йндлих, born 8 December 1934 in Leningrad, Soviet Union) is a Soviet and Russian actress, People's Artist of the Soviet Union.

Alisa Freindlich was born into the family of Bruno Freindlich, a prominent actor and People's Artist of the Soviet Union. She is of German and Russian ancestry. Her father and paternal relatives were ethnic Germans living in Russia for more than a century. In her childhood years, Alisa Freindlich attended the drama and music classes of the Leningrad Palace of Pioneers. During the Second World War she survived the 900-day-long Siege of Leningrad and continued her school studies after the war.

In the 1950s she studied acting at the Leningrad Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinema, graduating in 1957 as actress. From 1957 to 1961 Alisa Freindlich was a member of the troupe at Komissarjevsky Theatre in Leningrad. Then she joined the Lensovet Theatre company, but in 1982, she had to leave it following her divorce from the theatre's director, Igor Vladimirov. Thereupon director Georgy Tovstonogov invited her to join the troupe of BDT in which she works to this day.

Although Freindlich put a premium on her stage career, she starred in several notable movies, including Eldar Ryazanov's enormously popular comedy Office Romance (1977), the long-banned epic Agony (1975) and Tarkovsky's sci-fi movie Stalker (1979). Another notable role was the Queen Anne of Austria in the Soviet TV series D'Artagnan and Three Musketeers (1978) and its later Russian sequels, Musketeers Twenty Years Later (1992) and Queen Anne's Secret or Musketeers Thirty Years Later (1993).

On her 70th birthday, Freindlich's apartment in St. Petersburg was visited by Vladimir Putin, who awarded her with state decoration of the Russian Federation. She also received a Nika Award in 2005.



◆(先輩Galinaを尊敬しつつも煙たがる)バレエ学校教師 Lyudmila 役はバレンチナ・テリチェキナВаленти́на Теличкина (1945年生まれ) 、女優。



◆ バレエ教師 Antoine Duval 役 Nicolas Le Riche was born on January 29, 1972 in Sartrouville, Seine-et-Oise , France.





◆ 幼いYulkaの最初のバレエ教師 Pototsky 役 Alexander Domogarov(1964年生まれ、俳優)




DomogarovはポーランドのTV ドラマでロシア人マフィアを演じていた。

the sensational drama "BLOOD WITH BLOOD(a serial tv 2012-2015, 原題 Krew z krwi [血で血を贖う])" is a story of a woman full of emotion and surprising twists and turns into a dangerous game with the mafia to save herself and her children


俳優 Alexander Domogarov はその顔貌のせいで1960年代後半ロシアの花形バレエダンサーとして名を知られ、1974年カナダ巡演中にアメリカに亡命したミハイル・バリシニコフを思い出させる。バリシニコフは亡命後舞踏家、映画俳優としてアメリカを本拠に国際的に活躍。

ミハイル・ニコラエヴィチ・バリシニコフ Михаил Николаевич Барышников (1948年生まれ)






Russian Ballet Flick "Bolshoi" Stars Real Dancers - Pointe Magazine


One scene that may raise American eyebrows is during the audition, in which young Yulia must wear her underwear. This is typical of Russian ballet academy auditions in order for teachers to evaluate the dancers' lines and proportions (although Yulia's actual audition is pretty far-fetched).




映画のタイトルБольшо́й (Bolshoy)をなぜか強引に(ロシア語初級ふうに)英訳している。Большо́й = big











『ボリショイ --- 二人のスワン』、出演者の表現力半端じゃない!

Большо́й [Bolshoy] (『ボリショイバレエー 二人のスワン』2017年)




監督 Valery Todorovsky Born in1962 in Odessa, Ukrainian SSR, USSR as Valeriy Petrovich Todorovskiy. He is a producer and writer, known for Stilyagi (2008), Ottepel(2013) and Strana glukhikh (1998).




この映画はドキュメンタリーではなく完全にフィクションである。脚本は女優業もこなすというAnastasiya Palchikova。





Просмотр видео ограниченв вашем регионе 「お住まいの地域では視聴できません」 おそらくロシア国内のみかな?残念!




下に引用した記事によると若手(20代)の主だった出演者はYulyaを演じたMargarita Simonovaがポーランド国立オペラ座バレエ団の主役級ダンサー(プリンシパル)、Mitya役のAndrei Sorokinもロシア国立エカテリンブルク オペラ・バレエ劇場所属の主役級ダンサー、Karina役のAnna Isaevaはどうやら無名のバレエ学校の生徒らしい。それでもあれだけの容姿と踊りを見せるのだからロシア・バレエの裾野は広いしレベルも高い。



<上で触れた記事> ‘Bolshoi’: New Movie Explores Love and Competition at Russia’s Best-Known Ballet May 09 2017 - 13:05 “I very quickly realized that traditional drama actors won’t be able to play these roles. However thin, slim and flexible they were, they wouldn’t be able to have an argument while raising their legs [up to their ears]. It’s just impossible.” Todorovsky and his team went to pretty much every ballet theater in Russia and some of the former Soviet Union countries scouting for the right balance of ballet and acting skills. Margarita Simonova, who plays Yulya, was found at a theater in Warsaw (Poland), while Anna Isayeva, who plays Karina, was at a dance school in Moscow. Andrei Sorokin, who was cast for the role of Mitya, the girls’ mutual love interest, is a principal dancer at the Yekaterinburg Theater of Opera and Ballet. “The trick was to find young actors, who would look similar to play our main characters as children,” says Todorovsky, explaining that they were discovered not in the ballet, but at gymnastics schools. Another aspect that makes “Bolshoi” all the more interesting to watch is that all the scenes that take place inside the world- famous theater were really filmed there, a privilege that not many filmmakers enjoyed in the past. On the other hand, the ballet academy is a replica built at a film studio because filming on location would interrupt the teaching.






卒業後はボリショイ劇場でsoloistとして主役を張るかあるいは群舞corps de balletの一員になるかの分かれ道。また才能が認められなければ地方の劇場へ都落ちするかバレエを断念するしかない。在籍中は在籍中でまだ10代のダンサーの卵たちがお互いにライバル意識に苛まれながら稽古に没頭する過酷な毎日が続く。ストレス満載のきつい人生だ。





Yulyaは入学当初から往年のレジェンド・バレリーナGalina Beletskayaに才能を見込まれている。老いたるといえどもGalinaはバレエ学校で最大の権威をもつ教師である。


























最近のバレエ・ドキュメンタリー映画、『ウリヤーナ・ロパートキナ 孤高の白鳥』(2015年)、『ミルピエミルピエ ~パリ・オペラ座に挑んだ男~』(2015年)、『セルゲイ・ポルーニン 世界一優雅な野獣』(2016年)、「新世紀、パリ・オペラ座」(2017年)などでも華やかな舞台ではうかがい知れないダンサー個人の家庭の事情や組織運営上の困難が浮かび上がる。







動画情報: 『ダンサー、セルゲイ・ポルーニン 世界一優雅な野獣』 amazon prime video 30日間動画再生、500円 『ロパートキナ 孤高の白鳥』 30日間動画再生、399円









ところが今月下旬(2018年6月)大阪「庄内天満座」で公演中だと最近気づく。早速出かけてみた。だけどわたしが勝手に夢想していた「猿之助」とはあまりにも違っていた。 劇団の中で猿之助がただ一人(好ましくない意味で)突出していて劇団としての統一感がないのだ。彼は大歌舞伎の決めポーズを頻発するのだが、わざとらしすぎる感がある。観客を魅了する決めポーズになっていない。




だけど、100年以上昔 江戸、京、大坂の大歌舞伎に接する機会のない在所の人々が旅回り芝居の舞台を通して本場の歌舞伎を垣間見た時代とはわけが違う。21世紀の現代、しかも(長年大衆演劇を応援してきた年配者が劇場からリタイアして)大衆演劇の存続が危ぶまれる今そんなモノマネ芸で世代の比較的若い観客層を呼び込もうとしても無駄である。場内の観客には大舞台との比較のしようがない。それに何より先代(三代目)市川猿之助や当代市川猿之助の<狐忠信>とは雲泥の差だ。彼らは歌舞伎の演技のプロなのだからかないっこない。





















 笛 斉藤敦、小鼓 成田奏、大鼓 原田一之


 笛 杉 市和、小鼓 成田達志、大鼓 亀井忠雄 地頭 梅若実 =================================





















人さらいのテーマは中世の語り物を代表する「説経節 さんせう大夫」で有名だ。これは子供向けの読み物「安寿と厨子王丸」として知られている。









隅田川」参考サイト ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



つい先日Guillermo del Toro監督の新作The Shape of Water (2017年)を見てきた。時流に遅れがちな私には未知の映画監督だったが、世界的評価の高い作品なので興味が湧いた。


この監督はすでに日本のファンタジー映画ファンには有名らしくすでに『ブレイド2 [Blade 2]』(2002年)、『パンズ・ラビリンス[Pan’s Labyrinth、牧神の迷宮?](2006年)、『ヘルボーイ/ゴールデン・アーミー[Hellboy II: The Golden Army]』(2008年)、Pacific Rim (2013年)が公開されている。


ちなみにPacific Rim, Uprising (Steven S. DeKnight監督、2018) はPacific Rim (2013年)の続編だとようやく気づいた。デル・トロもプロデューサーの一人だ。去る3月下旬パリで見たが、ストーリー的にもビジュアル的にも迫力なくてがっかりした。 


ネットでうかがえる評判からすると大いに期待できる新作『シェイプ・オブ・ウォーター』だが、ハリウッド的ラブ・ロマンスの枠組を踏まえた物語の展開はかなりおメデタく単純すぎるという印象を受けた。またこれは後日ネット検索で知ったことだが、デル・トロ監督自身が「(形が変幻自在の)水は愛だ」(注1)とこちらが気恥ずかしくなるような発言を(見たところ)大真面目にするので私としては引いてしまった。  (注1)出典


とはいえ現実原則を超越したファンタジー物を得意とするデル・トロ監督ならではの魅力も感じなくはない。とりわけデル・トロ監督作品でモンスター役者としてお馴染みのDoug Jonesの熱演が印象に残った。『大アマゾンの半魚人[Creature from the Black Lagoon]』(1954年) (注2)にオマージュを捧げすぎじゃないかと思えるキュートな滑稽さを醸し出す(水陸)両生類系ヒト・モドキ [Amphibian Man] はなかなかイケてる。 (注2)全編見るなら






















朝日新聞』系列の(同じくリベラル系メディアであることを売り物にする)HUFFPOST日本語版さんが必死でエダノンを擁護している記事 :






<余談> 劇中イライザがTVリモコンを操っていたが、1950年代のアメリカにはリモコンが普及してたのかとビックリ。1956年には(1999年に韓国LG電子に買収された)Zenith社が発売。(このことはネットのブログでもすでに指摘している人がいる。)



<参考サイト>歴史的経緯がわかりやすい。) The First Television Remote Control! (1961) 1956: Zenith Space Commander Remote Control