Hawaii marks a Japanese milestone with classic kabuki shows

Share via

Japan’s Nakamura family of kabuki actors will head to Honolulu in March for performances of a traditional play, part of the celebration to mark the 150th year since Japanese immigrants first came to Hawaii.

In 2019, the state is marking Gannenmono, which means “first year folks” in Japanese, a reference to the 150 people who left Yokohama in May 1868, and landed in Honolulu the following month. Today 22% of Hawaiians claim at least partial Japanese ancestry, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.


In the performances, Nakamura Shikan, a fourth-generation kabuki actor, with sons Fukunosuke, Hashinosuke and Utanosuke, will perform the play, “Renjishi.” It tells the story of a lion who has to teach his two cubs courage, strength and unwavering discipline while still displaying fatherly love.

Kabuki, which is rooted in the 17th century, combines elaborate costumes and facial makeup with live folk music to relate a story through dance, movement and expression.

The upcoming shows mark the first time classic Kabuki from Japan has been performed in Hawaii in more than a half century. Performances will be held March 2-6 at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa’s Kennedy Theater and March 8 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Both venues are less than two miles from Waikiki’s popular hotels.

Tickets cost $80 and $100 for performances at the university, and $90 for the show at the convention center.

Info: Kabuki in Hawaii 2019