Kabuki was the national theatrical form in Japan during the Edo period (1615-1868) when present-day Tokyo, then Edo, was the political center of Japan. There was a great need for stability and isolation, which helped Japan to recover its unification during this time frame. Kabuki can then be understood as an aesthetic theatrical movement within the context of Japan's unification. Accordingly it still holds an honored position in Japanese cultural events. During the course of a Kabuki production, four "acts" take place: the deha, chuha, odoriji, and the iriha. In the deha, the setting is depicted and the characters are introduced. During the chuha, the story unfolds, characterized by lyricism, to a dramatic point. The third part of the Kabuki is the major dance of the play, which is followed by the fourth part, or the finale. During the course of a Kabuki production, musicians are located both on and off the stage. Musicians on the Kabuki stage provide musical elaborations on the story and also accompany the dances. The musicians who are off stage during a Kabuki performance set the mood, convey aspects of characters' inner thoughts, and provide sound effects for the production.
Other Styles in Japanese Traditions