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a small piece of knowledge

The introduction of Bando-Ryu

Thank you very much for visiting the Bando-Ryu home page.

Are you familiar with the classical Japanese dance known as “Nihon buyo”?

Have you ever seen it performed?

Traditional Japanese arts take on many forms including but not limited to Noh, Kabuki and Ningyo Jyoruri (Japanese puppets).
Nihon buyo is also considered to be one of the many facets of Japanese art expression.

During the Edo period, dance like movements within Kabuki were called “Shosagoto”. However, with time, the dance became more and more independent and developed into what we now refer to as Nihon buyo.

Our Bando-Ryu is just one of the many representations within the world of Nihon buyo.

The person who unified and became the head of Bando-Ryu style, is considered to be a Kabuki actor by the name of Bando
Mitsugoro the Third.

He was an Edo era Kabuki actor during the cultural bunsei era (1804~1830), and was succeeded by Bando Mitsugoro the Third who took over the Edo arts.

It was Bando Mitsugoro the Third who was famously known for his skill, and who also left behind multiple masterpieces.
Because a Kabuki actor’s main job is to perform on the stage, they are not able to teach Nihon buyo to ordinary people.

So how did the Nihon buyo school come about?

During the Edo period there was an Onnakyogenshi (women who preserved kabuki movements) who taught dance in Edo castle’s Ooku.

This dance was shown to prestigious families and from time to time to the Shogun’s harem known as the Ooku in the same program as Kabuki.

Because men were not allowed to go in the Ooku, only Onnakyogenshi acted out the Kabuki plays.

Nihon buyo has been passed down through Onnakyogenshi like this to the present.

Because of this, even common people could learn Nihon-buyo.
Bando-Ryu wasn’t just about just dancing skilfully, it was also about taking great care in ‘acting’ out each play.

If the dancer does not dance with meaning and purpose, even though they may have great technical skill, the piece would lose its heart. Without heart a dance loses its enchantment and simply becomes uninteresting for the viewer.

Within the traditional Japanese arts, and differing from Noh and Bunraku, Nihon buyo can be appreciated not only by watching but by performing one’s self. I believe this is the main reason Nihon buyo has reached so far and wide.

It is possible to experience a trial lesson in the Bando-Ryu style. If you have any interest at all, please without hesitation, challenge it for yourself.

Thank you for reading.

What is Kabuki?

Kabuki is a form of classical theater that is unique to Japan, and one of the traditional art forms.
It has been recognized domestically as a Jyuyou Mukei Bunkazai (Important intangible cultural heritage) as of 1965. With its traditional acting and staging, kabuki was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005, and added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

It is said that the pioneer of kabuki was a woman called Okuni, who created the kabuki odori (kabuki dance). The first written record with the phrase “kafuki wotori” (to dance the kabuki), is in the “Keichou Nikkenroku” in the 8th year of the Keichou era, or in 1603, as part of the record of performance arts that took place at the Nyoin Gosho (Nyoin Imperial Palace).

Contemporary kabuki acts can be divided into two types: the usual acting which is called “Kabuki Kyougen”, and the “Kabuki Buyou”. Within “Kabuki Kyougen”, there are two major types of performances, the jidaimono (history plays) and sewamono (domestic plays).
Jidaimono is a documentary-like performance based on actual events that happened during /before the Edo period, or is a performance depicting occurrences in the lives of the Imperial family, or the samurai or monk class of the Edo period, but set in the Japanese medieval times.
Sewamono on the other hand, depicts the lives of ordinary citizens of the Edo period.

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