Chicago Shimpo
Shubukai Celebrates 42nd Recital Showing Classics and Modern Tastes

• Japanese traditional dance troop “Shubukai”, a related group of prestigious Fujima School in Japan, celebrated its 42nd recital on October 27 at the Northside College Preparatory School.
• The first half of the program was consisted of virtuous classics to preserve a long history of Japanese traditional dance which is called “Nihon Buyo.” The second half showcased pieces of dance with live music of shamisen (three strings), kodaiko (small drum), and bamboo flute.

• The recital started with a Kiyomoto piece of “Shikunshi” danced by the founder and Grandmaster Shunojo Fujima and Erin Ikeuchi. Shikunshi (four great men) means an orchid, a chrysanthemum, a bamboo, and a plum blossom in subject matter for art in the Chinese and Japanese painting. The four flowers are called Shikunshi because their beauty and gracious figures resemble noble gentlemen. The piece was composed by Umekichi Kiyomoto 2nd in Meiji Era (1868-1912).

• Grandmaster Yoshinojo Fujima danced a Nagauta piece of “Kuruwa Hakkei, the eight views of the Red-light district.” As the title suggests, the events and scenes of the Yoshiwara District of Edo are likened to the Eight Views of Omi as they are depicted in this song. The piece is created as a refined, festive song and is often performed as a non-prop dance.

• Yurino Funima joined the recital from Australia and performed a piece of Tokiwazu “Tenarai-ko, School girl.” It shows a little girl from town, returning home from a day of studies at a one-room schoolhouse. The piece depicts the girl, who is playing and dancing with a butterfly as they prance along a road scattered with cherry blossoms.

• Akimitsu Abatangelo danced a Nagauta piece of “Haru no Shirabe, The song of spring.” It is a song that lavishly depicts the tranquility and peacefulness of a field in the springtime. The scenes of early spring are elegantly composed into the song.

• Tsukasa Taiko made a guest appearance and performed energetic taiko drumming.
• During an intermission, the second half stage was prepared.

• The Toyoaki Shamisen Ensemble opened the second half stage with “Echigo jishi.” Akimitsu Abatangelo performed “Kakinabe” and Erin Ikeuchi danced “Sakura” with the live music. Ikeuchi’s kimono costume instantly turned from red to green and surprised the audience. It is a special skill called as “hikinuki,” which is also used in kabuki theatre.

• Ikunojo Fujima appeared on the stage in a men’s kimono costume and performed “Sukeroku.” The piece expresses the atmosphere of the Yoshiwara District in Edo, and portrays the encounters that a young man named Sukeroku comes upon when he visits the Yoshiwara to meet his lover, the courtesan Agemaki. It is often performed in kabuki, but this time it was arranged as “ozashiki (chamber) version.”

• Miyumi Aoki appeared in a gorgeous costume and danced a Nagauta piece of “Oranda Yujo,” which depicted a young courtesan who fell in love with a Dutchman in Dejima, Nagasaki. When her lover has to leave for his country, she follows his ship passing off at Dejima, and dances the sorrow of parting.

• The final piece was “Kai Zan-ei,” a samurai story of Shingen Takeda, performed by Grandmaster Shunojo Fujima. Shingen Takeda was a notable samurai in a turbulent age and fought 70 battles in his lifetime. He departed his homeland in the northern part of Japan to meet the Emperor in Kyoto as he dreamed to rule over the whole country. Takeda, however, died on his journey without realizing his dream. The piece depicts his regretful traces.

• The piece, “Kai Zan-ei,” was newly choreographed by Shuryu Fujima, grandson of Shunojo’s teacher, Shusai Fujima. Shunojo traveled to Tokyo several days before the recital and visited Shusen Fujima, Shusai’s daughter and took over the Fujima’s family name. Shunojo received instructions from Shusen to dance the piece within three days and completed his dance.
• Shunojo’s performance was strong and speedy, very different from his ordinary dance style. He said that it was a very tough dance and a challenging piece, but he could make it at the recital.

• After the recital, Shunojo thanked shamisen Master Sanjuro Toyoaki, Tatsu Aoki and the members of the Asian Improv. Arts Midwest, and the community people for their support to hold the recital. “No matter the size of audience, big or small, we want to show our performance with perfect dances and costumes. I sincerely want to entertain the audience with our authentic performances,” Shunojo said.

• Yurino Fujima said, “My goal is to dance once a year at Shubukai recital. I think that Shunojo is really grateful for having support from the community. He said yesterday, ‘I couldn’t do it by myself at all,’ I look forward to joining him next year.”


Shunojo Fujima performs “Kai Zan-ei."


The Toyoaki Shamisen Ensemble


Erin Ikeuchi



Akimitsu Abatangelo


Miyumi Aoki