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Wall Street Journal, May 25, 2024

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发表于 5-28-2024 15:27:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
I  a survey (meaning overview) of kabuki

Miho Inada, Kabuki's Glow-Up: The Shogun Must Be Turning in His Grave; Japan's 400 year-old tradition embraces neon-lights, virtual pop idols to woo fans. at page A1.
https://www.wsj.com/lifestyle/hatsune-miku-kabuki-japan-f58daac9

Note:
(a) glow-up
https://www.dictionary.com/e/pop-culture/glow-up/
Please do not miss the section whose heading is "WHERE DOES GLOW UP COME FROM?" -- by reading further down (after an ad).
(b)
(i) "Kankuro Nakamura, a 42-year-old Kabuki superstar"

Nakamura Kankurō VI  六代目 中村 勘九郎  (The kyū or, rarely, ku is Chinese pronunciation of kanji 九.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakamura_Kankur%C5%8D_VI
Like Chinese, Japanese (language) has 第一次世界大戦 or 第1次世界大戦. The latter, however, has an alternative way to say it: using 目 (as a suffix) which is pronounced "me," the same as that for eye. Here it means the sixth generation of 中村 勘九郎. In Japanese arts, theaters, tea masters, titles are handed down, not necessarily to descendants but occasionally to chosen disciples who are married or adopted -- as a grown-up -- into the family).
(ii) "Hatsune Miku, a virtual pop idol resembling a 16-year-old girl but defying human gender classifications"

Hatsune Miku  初音 ミクhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatsune_Miku
("developed by [Sapporo-based] Crypton Future Media," Inc)

(iii) "In December[, 2023], unconstrained by shogunal guidance, Miku's programmers placed her onstage at Tokyo's 134-year-old Kabuki-za, the pre-eminent theater and the art form's most hallowed ground. Alongside Kabuki luminary Shido Nakamura, she [Hatsune] portrayed a guardian of a sacred cherry tree. * * * Kabuki-za manager Manabu Senda * * * Kabuki star Kankuro Nakamura, a distant cousin of Shido Nakamura"
(A) Kabuki-za  歌舞伎座  (The za is Chinese pronunciation for kanji 座, meaning seat.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabuki-za
is privately owned.
(B) Nakamura Shidō II  二代目 中村 獅童
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakamura_Shidō_II
(C) Manabu SENDA 千田 学 (The manabu is defined in (c).)


(c) Jim Breen's online Japanese-English dictionary:
* hatsune 初音 【はつね】 (n): "first warbling heard in a New Year"  (The hatsu is Chinese pronunciation of 初, and ne Japanese pronunciation of 音.)
   ^ 初音 (n):
   "1: the cry of an animal that signals the beginning of a season
   2: (especially) a Japanese bush warbler birdcall that signals the beginning of spring"
   https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%88%9D%E9%9F%B3
* Mainland Chinese translate her given name Miku as 未来. It is incorrect. Miku is a female given name in Japan, and 未来 in Japan is pronounced mi-ra-i.
* manabu 学ぶ 【まなぶ】 (v): "to learn   <いくつになっても学ぶことはある。 One is never too old to learn.>"


(d) "But with Miku's appearance, the innovative style of 'cho-Kabuki [超歌舞伎]'—meaning 'beyond Kabuki'—has now reached the art form’s most revered venue."

As in Chinese, kanji 超 (pronounced chō) can also mean super-ultra-. extreme (besides beyond -- following a number).
(e) The print article does not have sectional headings such as Are You Ready.

-----------------------------
TOKYO—What would the shogun say?

At recent shows in this city’s venerable Kabuki theater, a venue on par with the Metropolitan Opera, pop music blared as the audience waved neon pink light sticks, and a computer-generated, aqua-haired teen took center stage.

A Kabuki troupe has even performed of late in Tokyo’s red-light district, surrounded by dive bars and adult-entertainment establishments.

Something is happening to Kabuki, Japan’s esteemed 400-year-old theatrical art, renowned for its stylized poses and intricate white-faced makeup.

As the primary audience of senior women diminishes, Kabuki promoters are trying to reel in younger generations and ensure the tradition’s survival.

“We have to get people to learn about Kabuki,” said Kankuro Nakamura, a 42-year-old Kabuki superstar. “By devising various ways, I hope we can get people to come.”

With their extreme makeup and opulent costumes, Kabuki actors have captivated audiences since the early 17th century. The art form began as flashy dances by female performers, quickly becoming a beloved entertainment in the capital.

Citing the corruption to “public morals,” the nation’s shogun, or military ruler, issued an edict barring women from Kabuki in 1629. Since then, men have dominated the stage, some donning feminine attire to portray female characters.
[caption of an online only photo]: Kabuki actor Shido Nakamura with the virtual idol Hatsune Miku in a previous show.
(The photo attached below should be here.)

‘Are you ready?’
The shogun’s decree likely didn’t anticipate Hatsune Miku, a virtual pop idol resembling a 16-year-old girl but defying human gender classifications—being a computer-generated animatron. Created by a Japanese software company, she usually sports a short skirt and thigh-high stockings, and many of her fans are men in their 20s to 50s.

In December, unconstrained by shogunal guidance, Miku’s programmers placed her onstage at Tokyo’s 134-year-old Kabuki-za, the pre-eminent theater and the art form’s most hallowed ground. Alongside Kabuki luminary Shido Nakamura, she portrayed a guardian of a sacred cherry tree.

While promoters have experimented with unconventional characters in Kabuki for years, it has primarily been in less prestigious and less tradition-bound theaters.

But with Miku’s appearance, the innovative style of “cho-Kabuki”—meaning “beyond Kabuki”—has now reached the art form’s most revered venue.

Kimono-clad elderly patrons intermingled with the pop star’s younger fans.

“Are you ready?” Nakamura asked the audience as the show started. “Grandpa, Grandma, let’s get five years younger!”

The crowd periodically stood and cheered throughout the performance—a departure from the strict decorum typically observed at Kabuki-za, where standing and shouting freely are a no-no.

Some older attendees appeared perplexed as they fumbled with the neon light sticks.

‘They would be surprised’
The performance attracted many Miku fans, primarily younger and middle-aged men who typically regard Kabuki-za shows as, frankly, just traditional Kabuki.

“Hatsune Miku was a gateway to Kabuki,” said Takeki Sumi, a 53-year-old police officer who was off-duty and sporting a Miku-themed traditional Japanese coat.

Sumi attended the 90-minute show three times and said he would attend more Kabuki shows—if Miku was involved.

Kaito Chiba, a college student in the audience, said he watched Kabuki for the first time because of Miku, but he had discovered another actor he liked on the stage. “I’d like to come back for a show by him.”

To Michiko Iwasaki, a 72-year-old Kabuki regular, the show initially felt odd but ultimately proved to be a lot of fun. The finale featured Miku and her co-star soaring through the air on wires as pink paper flower confetti rained down on the crowd.

Kabuki-za manager Manabu Senda declared the show a success. “It turned out we had worried too much” about older people not liking the show, he said, adding that the balance of young and old attendees was just what he was looking for. “Just like the country as a whole, it isn’t good to have distorted demographics.”

Kabuki began as entertainment for the masses, with audiences eating, drinking and carousing throughout performances. In the late 19th century, the government, eager to put Japan on a par with Western powers, sought to rebrand Kabuki as high-class art.

“If people in the Edo period came back in time and heard about the image of Kabuki now, I think they would be surprised,” said the Kabuki star Kankuro Nakamura, a distant cousin of Shido Nakamura. “I believe they would say, ‘It’s not like that.’”

The latest bold bid to attract fresh audiences took Kabuki to Tokyo’s red-light district. Kankuro Nakamura performed a classic drama and new comedy-like drama among countless bars, aiming to draw younger patrons and foreign tourists.

Nakamura is optimistic. “Cheap seats seem to have sold out quickly,” he said. “That means, I believe, young people bought them.”

Write to Miho Inada at miho.inada@wsj.com
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 楼主| 发表于 5-28-2024 15:40:52 | 显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 choi 于 5-29-2024 12:48 编辑

II  Niharika Mandrana, US Marines Prepare for Taiwan Conflict; Military exercises on nearby islands aim to show China a more nimble force. At page A18.
https://www.wsj.com/world/asia/a ... rom-taiwan-dd5d0fd3

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ITBAYAT, Philippines—The U.S. and Philippine marines arrived in waves on this little island nearly 100 miles from the southern tip of Taiwan. A platoon clutching automatic rifles and machine guns sprang from Black Hawks and took up positions around the airfield. In a whirl of hot air and dust, Chinook helicopters lowered dozens more men.

They unloaded fuel cans, sacks of ready-to-eat meals and cases of medical supplies, small drones and satellite-communications gear—everything they would need for a three-day stay.

If their ride had continued north, they would reach Taiwan in less than an hour.

This was a military exercise, the guns had no ammunition and the Javelin missile launcher had no missiles. But the marines were preparing for a real-world conflict, fine-tuning a strategy they see as critical to fighting China in its neighborhood—from strings of islands close to it.

This terrain is meant to be in their wheelhouse.

They belong to the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, created two years ago as part of a sweeping redesign to better prepare the U.S. Marine Corps for great-power rivalry after decades of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal flew out with them to Itbayat—90 minutes by helicopter from the nearest large Philippine island—and island-hopped to remote Philippine military sites they were operating from during the drills.

In a conflict, these Marines would move forward—as far and as fast as possible—with missiles and radars. They would fan out in small groups across islands and coastlines. Then, they would keep moving so that China’s missiles, sensors and drones wouldn’t find them.

The adversary would have to “expend an awful lot of resources to figure out where we are and what we’re doing,” said Col. John Lehane, the commander of the 2,500-strong Hawaii-based regiment. “We complicate his decision-making.”

In practice, it isn’t that easy to do.

Operating in austere, far-flung locations presents lots of problems. Some islands have sizable runways but others have only small helipads. Remote coastal areas aren’t always connected by roads wide enough to move radar systems and missile batteries. The Marines need small ships to maneuver but don’t have them.

Multiple threats
In war, threats would be everywhere, making it harder to bring them supplies. China has a formidable arsenal of missiles, as well as drones of all shapes and sizes. And it has an advantage—fighting in what it considers its backyard, in the vicinity of its naval fleet, military bases and an extensive surveillance network.

Part of the Marines’ goal is to bog down China in the early stages of a conflict, buying time for other U.S. forces to get in place. From the front line, they would get a close-up picture of the battle space using sensors and small drones, and fire missiles to destroy Chinese ships or send back targeting data to U.S. and allied warplanes or ships to strike.

These smaller, more nimble units would act as a 21st-century littoral cavalry, said Benjamin Jensen, a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies who teaches at the Marine Corps University.

“The ideal case is that you have these fluid forces that are flowing up and down the first island chain, so you’re constantly forcing [China] to look for you,” he said, referring to a stretch of territory from Japan to Taiwan, the northern Philippines and the South China Sea. That would impose a “tremendous tax” on China’s intelligence network, he said.

“Every sensor China tasks to look for a Marine Corps littoral regiment is a sensor that isn’t tasked on another target,” Jensen said. “You want them to go on wild-goose chases.”

To do that, these Marines need to square some circles.

Travel light while still being lethal. Get food, fuel and missiles across sprawling island chains. Gather tons of information about the enemy’s movements without giving away their own.

And do all that up close to China, where turning on a radio or a radar could make them a target.

Over the past two years, the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment has trained on Hawaiian islands, simulated combat in California and made four trips to the Philippines. They are rehearsing tactics to communicate while remaining hidden, such as creating a lot of noise in the electromagnetic spectrum to confuse enemy forces, or drawing attention to different aspects of the formation that might or might not be something.

Racks of servers are being replaced by equipment the size of laptops, and 3-D printers are making repair parts. “We are continually refining the balance between what is the lightest package I can put there to reduce the logistics burden while still making sure that it is combat credible and able to fight,” Lehane said.

Fishing for answers
During the recent exercises in late April and early May, several small teams flew to three tiny islands scattered across the strategic Luzon Strait.

Their presence signaled that the island-hopping Marines were getting out, with their allies, to the places from where they might fight Chinese forces someday.  

“We do assessments on the islands all the time,” said Lt. Col. Mark Edgar, who helped oversee the exercises. “Everything from what those airstrips can support to what a port can support to what a beach can support.”

They tracked how many gallons of fuel they were burning. They landed helicopters on fields, or “hasty landing sites.” They purified water from a creek using a portable system.

For three days on Itbayat, home to 3,000 civilians, they camped out in an abandoned building near the airstrip. They sent out patrols to the local town, which would be a potential source of food and water in a crisis, and to the ports. They measured roads and bridges to figure out what vehicles they could bring, and pushed up to the island’s north, which faces Taiwan, for a closer look.

A different team went further to Mavulis, a tiny speck of land at the northern Philippine frontier, just 88 miles from Taiwan. They linked up with the small rotational detachment of the Philippine military—no civilians live there—and went fishing together. They learned, in planning for the trip, that they couldn’t land Osprey aircraft on the island. Out on patrols, they discovered that mountainous paths that looked walkable on satellite images were in fact not.

“Nothing replaces putting a Marine on the ground and actually looking at that terrain,” said Edgar. “That’s where we learned the most, what we call physical reconnaissance: which is just being there, seeing it, taking pictures of it, understanding it.”

They are also learning what they really need and don’t have: ships to move Marines and their gear between islands or from one point on the coast to another. Without them, the Marines are constrained by rugged terrain, small bridges and narrow roads, and dependent on helicopters, which are more visible and carry smaller loads.

Plans to produce the ships are delayed and construction hasn’t begun.

The littoral regiments face two problems, said Mark Cancian, a former colonel in the Marine Corps. First, resupplying missiles at austere locations inside China’s “defensive bubble” in a conflict would be hard. Cancian, who ran a wargame last year that featured island-hopping Marines, said the risk was that after a few useful strikes, they would run out.

Access was the other hurdle, he said. Manila would likely welcome the Marines if a fight broke out in the South China Sea, where it faces direct threats from Beijing. But whether it would do the same to help the U.S. repel a Chinese attack on Taiwan is much less certain.

The Marines have two littoral regiments—one in Hawaii and one based in Okinawa, Japan. A third regiment is pending.

Cancian said the Marines would be most effective if they were already in position at the time that hostilities erupt, giving the Japan-based regiment an advantage because they have the ability to move down the country’s Ryukyu Islands that stretch southwest to Taiwan, he said. The Hawaii-based Marines might have to fight their way in.

That regiment is spending more time in the Philippines. They arrived in April for the recently concluded exercises, called Balikatan, and will stay through June when they participate in another set of drills. By then, many of them will have clocked as many as five of the past 14 months in the Philippines.

That increases the chances they’ll be around if a crisis erupts.

The alliance between Manila and Washington is stronger than it has been in decades. The U.S. doesn’t have bases in the country, but it has an agreement giving it access to Philippine military sites to upgrade facilities on them. Washington struck a deal last year to expand that access to four more, taking the total to nine.

If China moved to invade Taiwan, American forces would want to shift some U.S. warplanes to these sites. The idea would be to disperse U.S. aircraft across an array of bases and even civilian airfields in the region to make it harder for China to target them and to provide the U.S. different avenues for strike, said Becca Wasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security who runs wargames.

The Marine littoral regiments, meanwhile, would mobilize to try to restrain the Chinese fleet within the first-island chain, Wasser said. That is, block them from moving outside the first-island chain and from threatening American forces attacking from further back.

The Marines would also aim to counter China’s “anti-access” strategy aimed at locking down the area and making it too dangerous for U.S. forces to come close to Taiwan.

“We hold our foot in the door so that the door can’t be slammed shut for the rest of the joint force and that puts us at risk potentially,” said Lt. Col. James Arnold, who heads the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment’s anti-air battalion. “That’s why we’re working every day on tactics that would allow us to do that effectively and survivably.”

Write to Niharika Mandhana at niharika.mandhana@wsj.com
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