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by koskeis, or servants, along the before-mention­ed gang planks. On two sides of the pit are two bridges of planks, which also communicate with the boards of the stage; the first is nearest to one of the doors; the second, which is four planks wide, forms an angle with the extremity of the boxes. On this bridge certain heroic or tragic comic personages perform their part, and the ballet is danced. The house is lit by paper lan­terns tied to the galleries; there is no chandelier from the roof, which is perfectly flat, the cupola being unknown in Japanese architecture. Large lanterns are however, sometimes held up to the roof, in order to light up the performance of the acrobats, especially that of the " flying men," who cross the theatre by means of cleverly contrived mechanism.
The curtain which hangs before the stage, is ornamented by a gigantic inscription in Chinese characters, and surmounted by a target with an arrow in the centre. This is a symbol of the talent and tact which the actors are about to display, and signifies that they expect to " hit the bull's eye " of the audience's wishes.*
The performance generally lasts till one o'clock A. M., and usually consists of a comedy, a tragedy, an opera with a ballet, and two or three interludes of acrobats, wrestlers and jugglers.
The tragedy we have already partly described as of a mythological sensational type. In the comedy it is often customary for the audience to
* Humbert's Japan, p. 336

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III