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Michiyuki

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  • Japanese: 道行 (michiyuki)

Michiyuki are dance scenes within the kabuki and ningyô jôruri theatre forms in which a dramatic journey is related through dance, and a minimum of dialogue.

Michiyuki became extremely common in the Genroku period (1688-1704) at the opening of kabuki plays, a character's entrance onto the stage (usually via the hanamichi extended walkway) relating a narrative of his or her journey to the locale where the play is set. Before long, however, due in part to the influence of playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon, michiyuki began to be incorporated into later sections of plays instead; in the love suicides genre, in which some of the most famous plays were by Chikamatsu, the michiyuki comes towards the very end, as the two lovers journey to the place where they intend to meet their deaths.

By the 1750s, it had become fairly standard for the fourth act of a five-act play to contain a michiyuki section. The opening scene of the fourth act of the play Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (1748), depicting the journey of Shizuka Gozen and the fox spirit Genkurô Tadanobu as they seek to catch up with Minamoto no Yoshitsune, is a representative example of this now quite standard placement of a michiyuki scene within a longer play.

References

  • McQueen Tokita, Alison. "Music in kabuki: more than meets the eye." The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2008. p244.
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