Kabuki is the dominant type of native drama in Japan today, and has been for some three centuries. It is regarded as the annual entertainment for the average Japanese family. Along iwth Chinese opera, Kabuki is one of the oldest popularly supported, traditionally performed, classic theater arts still active in the world. Today waht is meant by Kabuki is a broad concept. It means "song-dance-skill" and covers a combination of words and music, of dancing and movement, all skillfully executed. It now refers to a specific and particular type of classic theater, and communicates the synthetic idea of a special and rarefied style of acting, certain types of plays, and a set and inflexible repertoire. Although women at one time performed in Kabuki, today only men participate. The costumes of Kabuki are similar to those for Noh but even more elaborate. Masks are not used but the makeup is frequently highly stylistic. The stage is far more elaborate than the Noh stage. In the 17th century the Kabuki stage added a curtain and introduced scenery.
Kakubi was the fundamental popular theater of Japan during it's last premodernization period called the Tokugawa or Edo (1615-1868). Thus it reflects the lifestyle of Japan's most recent "old-time" era and has therefore an understandable nostalgic appeal. For most Westerners, the subtleties of all Japanese theater forms are difficult to understand, and a great deal of study is needed for full comprehension. For those interested in more information, the following are suggested: Fabian Bowers, Japanese Theatre; Samuel L. Letter, Kabuki Encyclopedia; Brandon, Malm, Shively, Studies in Kabuki; and Bowers, Theatre in the East.