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Kabuki's Forgotten War1931-1945$
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James R. Brandon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832001

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832001.001.0001

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Prelude to War

Prelude to War

(p.3) Chapter One Prelude to War
Kabuki's Forgotten War

James R. Brandon

University of Hawai'i Press

In 1931, Japan began its intractable war with China under the modest rubric of the Manchurian Incident. In 1937, it expanded the war through the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which led within months to large-scale fighting in the China Incident. Japan's war on the continent stimulated and invigorated almost all kabuki artists in the 1930s. Playwrights graphically dramatized bloody battles on the mainland in exciting overnight pickle plays and modernized many of Japan's traditional warrior heroes. New plays were rarely staged alone on kabuki bills. Producers during the war continued the Tokugawa period practice of providing audiences with a balanced program of old and new plays. This chapter examines the many overnight pickle plays and new-history plays that chart the fever course of the war. It notes that old standbys still made up the bulk of kabuki programs from 1931 to the end of the war in 1945.

Keywords:   kabuki war plays, Japan, overnight pickle plays, China, Manchurian Incident, Marco Polo Bridge Incident

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