What is Taishu Engeki (Japanese Pop Theatre)?

The origins of Taishu Engeki can be traced back to the early Meiji period (1868-1912). Taishu Engeki is a form of theatre that tours all over Japan, and it incorporates a wide variety of plays, mainly historical dramas, including humanistic plays, sword-fighting plays and comedies.
The stage performance comprises of two sections: a “play” and a “dance show”. The contents of both segments change every day. Because the stage and the audience are in close proximity, the actors skillfully ad-lib or modify lines according to the audience's reactions. Therefore, even in the same play, there is always something new to discover each time, and this is the secret to Taishu Engeki’s popularity.
In recent years, attention has been drawn to the gorgeous dance shows featuring the Oiran (courtesans), the dainty onnagata (female roles often played by a male actor) and the elegant otokogata (male roles sometimes played by a female actor). Reasonable admission fees also make it attractive.