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Costumes, Makeup & Wigs

Costumes range from the simple and realistic to some of the most extraordinary and outlandish inventions in the history of world theatre! Especially in aragoto plays, the style of costume and makeup is exaggerated and visually stunning! But even the more subdued kimono seen in domestic plays is still beautiful. They are not always easy to wear and so please notice how the actors manipulate their costumes with skill and elegance.

The most gorgeous costumes and wigs belong to the top-ranking courtesans with their extravagant obi sashes and their many precious hair ornaments. In kabuki, no expense is ever spared! Real gold and silver thread is frequently used and, hand-made by the most skilful artisans, some costumes can be worth a serious fortune!


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Shibaraku ©Shochiku

The aragoto costume, wig and big sword weigh over 63kg!
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©Shochiku / ©Shochiku Costume

The courtesan's costume, wig and tall wooden clogs weigh over 33kg!
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©Shochiku / ©Shochiku Costume

A feudal lord's formal wear during the medieval era.
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©Shochiku / ©Shochiku Costume

The black outer robe with a 'snow and bamboo' design is for a female retainer in a lord's mansion.

KUMADORI Makeup

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One characteristic style of kabuki makeup is called kumadori, in which the color and the way of painting the lines changes according to the role.


From left:
RED   for youth, justice, anger and bombastic strength, especially in aragoto style plays.
INDIGO   for a villain or evil spirit.
BROWN   for supernatural demons or ghosts.
UNIQUE STYLE   ex.representing a drooping moustache.

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