CJS Performing Art Projects

CJS supports regular performances of traditional Japanese theater, dance, and music including English language kabuki and kyogen plays by students.


Message from Professor Larry Kominz, Artistic Director

At PSU I teach and direct student performances of kabuki and kyogen comedy every year.  I believe that these two theatrical genres are among the most exciting and expressive theater in the world, and Portlanders deserve to be able to see them. Our students derive all sorts of educational benefits from participating in the productions. We have presented kabuki plays for three years in a row, and  are the only American university doing this because kabuki is so complex and difficult to produce, especially with entirely live musical accompaniment, as we do it at PSU.  Our productions are gorgeous, exciting, and expertly performed.

Please view highlights below.  Thank you to PSU students for your energy, enthusiasm, and talent on stage! 

Drama! Dance! Drums! 2018:Mischief and Mayhem: Comic Kyôgen Farce 

June 7th, 2018

Featuring four comic kyôgenplays one a premiere in English, performed by PSU students. All are hilarious farces, full of surprises, hyperbole, physical slapstick and acrobatics. The PSU Taiko Ensemble and six of the performers who entertained you in our kabuki play, The Castle Tower last spring return to the stage for KDD 2018. 

Kyôgen! Dance! Drums!


Drama! Dance! Drums! 2017: The Castle Tower and The Puppeteer

May 30 - 31, 2017

Featuring two kabuki plays: The Castle Tower and The Puppeteer, and two taiko performances.The Castle Tower is a kabuki play by the renowned author, Izumi Kyoka, in 1917. It is an occult fantasy romance full of magic and mystery set in Japan's grandest castle. The Puppeteer is a dance drama in which puppets turn into humans. Betrayed lovers, princesses, samurai, and warrior ghosts - all favorite characters in Japanese lore. (Flier) (Photos)

The Castle Tower

The Puppeteer


Drama! Dance! Drums! 2016: Kyogen! Dancing! Taiko!

June 1, 2016

Four kyogen plays (including two original pieces written by PSU students!), taiko performances, and Japanese traditional dance pieces. (Flier) (Photos)

Photo by Brian Albrecht


The Revenge of the 47 Loyal Samurai

February - March, 2016

Revenge of the 47 Loyal Samurai was an epic “blockbuster.” This story is iconic in Japan, and the play Chūshingura is recognized as the most popular play in that country. We entertained an audience of 3000 here in Portland, and we continue to present our play on YouTube. Thanks to over 100 newspaper articles in Japanese, and four spots on NHK TV this project gained unprecedented recognition for PSU in Japan. After the closing show The Center for Japanese Studies held its first press conference, with members of Japanese print media and TV in attendance, along with the eminent Japan scholar, Donald Keene. (Flier) (Photos)

Part One



Part Two


Making the Kabuki Loyal 47 - Part 1




Drama! Dance! Drums! 2015: Taiko, Kabuki, Dancing

June 3, 2015

Featuring kyogen (Insect Princess), kabuki (scenes from 2 kabuki plays including "The Pine Room Confrontation", a scene from the kabuki, The Revenge of the 47 Loyal Samurai), and taiko performances. (Flier) (Photos)




Drama! Dance! Drums! 2014


June, 2014


(Flier) (Photos









Drama! Dance! Drums! 2013


June 6, 2013


Featuring rakugo (storytelling), kyogen (comic theater), nihon buyo (classical dance), shimai (noh dance), and taiko (group drumming). Includes solo and group performances led by Matthew Shores, instructor of Japanese and Wynn Kiyama, assistance professor of musicology and ethnomusicology. (Flier) (Photos)





 Japan in Motion 2012

July-August, 2012

(Flier) (Photos)

Photo by Toshimi Tanaka and Natasha Kotenova



Drama! Dance! Drums! 2012 English Kabuki: The Medicine Peddler


June 10, 2012

(Flier) (Photos)






Japan in Motion 2011

July 17th and 29th, 2011

(Flier) (Photos)

These two summer workshops offered by PSU give students and community members the opportunity to get involved in the performing arts for Japanese Studies. The two workshops held during 2011 are "Performing Kyogen Comedy in English" and "Permaculture and Butoh". "Performing Kyogen Comedy in English" will prepare and present the large cast play, "The Deva King." This play explores the interplay among material greed, religious devotion, and deception when two con-men decide to fake a religious miracle. The class will present this play, as well as other plays and dances in a public performance on July 17. The second workshop,"Permaculture and Butoh", combines the approaches of permaculture and butoh requiring participants to cultivate a sensitivity to the world around them and their place within it. The course and its culminating performance will take place on a raw urban farm site where students will have the opportunity to share in the initial design and implementation of a Dance and Permaculture Institute in North Portland on July 29.


Photo by Toshimi Tanaka


Kyogen Plays in English

July 17, 2011



The marquee play for this event is The Deva King (Niô 仁王). This large-cast, special costume kyôgen play features an Edo Period con-artist team that sets out to trick gullible worshipers into donating alms to a fake Deva King statue--one of the con-man in disguise! 

This student show is different from usual in that we will mount two original works written by advanced students in our Japanese program.  One is a modern kyôgen play called The Fisherman and the Fox.  The fox is from Japanese folklore--it can disguise itself as a human.  The second student piece is an original dance drama, just five minutes long, that is a spiritual, and aestheticized interpretation of the deep friendship between the two protagonists of Star Trek.  This piece is best described as high energy, cosmic noh dance. 

"The Deva King"

Below--photos from our June 9 recital performance of kyôgen plays in English:



"Tied to a Pole" (Bo-Shibari)  The master ties up servant #2. 

(photo by Toshimi Tanaka)


"Voices at the Gate"  (dancing and singing to trick Tarô into revealing himself) 

(photo my Minh Ngo)


The dance of the angel from the noh play "Hagoromo."

(photo by Minh Ngo)