The Transformation of Kabuki Themes: From Tokugawa to Meiji
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Kabuki has been a popular performing art in Japan since its formation in the Tokugawa era. However, the kabuki seen today in modern Japan is not the same as the kabuki seen previously. A major impact on kabuki theatre was the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The paper below will discuss an important aspect in the transformation of kabuki. This transformation was that of the themes of the kabuki plays. The government, seeing many of the traditional Japanese themes as controversial and inappropriate, regulated the kabuki performances in a way that was appealing to the Western, foreign eyes. Because theatre served as an integral part of culture in the West, the Japanese sought to do the same; kabuki was to be made into a far more educational form of entertainment that was ethical and decent. Several well-known kabuki plays, both from the Tokugawa era and the modern era, are discussed in order to understand the importance of these controversial themes.
Senior Thesis written by Michael Becker in 2012 called "The Transformation of Kabuki Themes: From Tokugawa to Meiji"