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Kabuki theatre evolved from the dance which according to myth had its origin in the lively dance performed by the goddess Inari.
In about 1664 A.D. curtains were used for the first time in the theatres in Osaka and Tokyo. These opened up new theatrical possibilities such as extending performances by presenting individual scenes one after the other to form a major theme of action. They also enabled the scenery to be changed, unseen by the audience, to depict a change of location. The reddish-brown, green and black striped dropping curtain, which is characteristic of kabuki, was licensed in the Edo period and symbolised official permission to present theatrical performances.

The use of the curtain in kabuki is often fundamentally different from the way a curtain is used in the European theatre. For example, in kabuki performances the asagimaku is used. This is a light-blue curtain which is suspended over the stage to cover it until at the signal of two wooden blocks being hit together it is suddenly dropped to reveal a new impressive scene, like a sudden cut from one scene to the next in a film.

(From "The Kabuki Theatre", by Liana Richter)
 
  History | What is a Kabuki System? | Development MKS II