Kabuki: Japanese Theatre Prints

Culture Trip

Kunisada, ‘The Dance Forms of Flourishing Edo Pictures’, 1858. This print shows a theater interior. The play being performed is ‘Wait a Moment!’, with the lead actor making his entrance on the raised passageway at the left. In the center are the regular seats, where members of the audience eat, drink, and chatter during the performance. Waiters move among them delivering refreshments. Along the sides of the theater are the more expensive boxes. | © National Museum of Scotland.

Loved by over 40s

Kunisada, Design from the series ‘Thirty-six Selected Floral Parallels’, 1861. This is the promising young actor Kawarasaki Gonjūrō I, one of several sons of the star actor, Ichikawa Danjūrō VII. Using the name Danjūrō IX, he would become one of the superstars of the Kabuki world | © National Museum of Scotland

Toyokuni, ‘Scene from the play Butterfly and Phoenix Mountain Dance’, 1819. A quest to recover a lost treasure drives apart two friends, Chōkichi (right) and Chōgorō. In this scene, they have recovered two precious calligraphy scrolls, bearing the characters for ‘Dragon’ (right) and ‘Tiger,’ and have discovered they are in fact brothers. They are at Shinagawa with their sister O-Seki, about to take revenge on the man who killed their father. | © National Museum of Scotland

Kuniyoshi, Onbō Canal scene from the play ‘Ghost Stories at Yotsuya on the Tōkaidō’, 1836. In this gritty, ’raw real-life play,’ Tamiya Iemon (left) tires of his wife O-Iwa after she gives birth and poisons her so that he can marry his neighbor’s attractive young daughter. He then kills his servant, Yohei, and nails both bodies to a door, which is dumped in the canal. This print shows the horrific moment when he is out fishing and the decomposing corpses reappear. | © National Museum of Scotland

Hokuei, One of a series of imagined pairings of actors, from the series ‘The Eight Dog Heroes of the Satomi Clan’, 1833. The story it is based on tells of eight brothers conceived from the magical union of Lady Fuse with her father’s dog, Yatsubusa. The children are born as spirits in the form of eight green spheres, each containing a Chinese character denoting a Confucian principle, such as benevolence, loyalty, and sincerity. The story tells how Kanamari Daisuke, a family servant, seeks to reunite the brothers and restore the honor of the Satomi clan. | © National Museum of Scotland

Kunisada, Ichikawa Ebizō V as Banzui Chōbē, from the series ‘Tales of the Water Margin for Our Times’, 1859. This atmospheric night-time scene illustrates the phenomenon of adapting Chinese tales, where Japanese warriors are substituted for the Chinese ones. Banzui Chōbē here stands in for the Chinese hero Gongsun Sheng. This print was produced as one of a series, but when Ebizō V died in the third month of 1859, aged 68 years, it came to serve as a fitting memorial. | © National Museum of Scotland.

Kunisada, one of four designs from the series ’53 Stations of the Tōkaidō Route’, 1852. Series were a common method for publishers to encourage people to keep buying prints. Many, such as this one, were based on the Tōkaidō, a processional route leading west from Edo to the imperial capital, Kyoto. Here, Kunisada has produced striking designs of actors delivering the characteristic ‘stage pose’ of Kabuki and has set them against landscapes depicting the post stations along the route. | © National Museum of Scotland

Kunisada, Crowds Visiting the Special Display at Naritasan Temple, 1856. Buddhist temples often staged viewings of important paintings and sculptures in order to raise funds. Among the visitors here are a group of seven Kabuki actors, who have caught the attention of men and women nearby. Naritasan Shinshōji is a large Buddhist temple in the town of Narita, north-east of Tokyo. It remains a center of worship and a popular tourist. | © National Museum of Scotland

Morikawa Chikashige, Scene from the play Mochizuki, 1882. Yasuda Tomoharu has been murdered by his own cousin, Mochizuki Akinaga (right). One of Yasuda’s retainers, Ozawa Tomofusa (centre), now runs the Yoroiya inn. When Yasuda’s wife Shiragiku and young son Hanawaka arrive there unexpectedly, Ozawa greets them with joy. By chance one of the other guests is Mochizuki and the scene is set for revenge. Ozawa organizes entertainment and performs a lion-dance. When Mochizuki becomes drowsy thanks to plentiful sake, Ozawa strikes. | © National Museum of Scotland

Kunichika, A Tour of Hell by the Water Margin Heroes, 1864. The title announces these characters as heroes of the Chinese romance, The Tales of the Water Margin, who are storming Hell. They are recast as Edo gallants with their elaborate tattoos, who are in turn portrayed by Kabuki actors. In 1864, the political situation was increasingly unstable, and the implication seems to be that when the regime is corrupt, the heroes of society are expected to smash the system and dispatch the bureaucrats. | © National Museum of Scotland

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.