While many of the costumes in domestic plays are realistic recreations of Edo-era costumes, historical plays often use lavish Nishikiori costumes and large wigs, such as those of the Noh theatre. In addition, the beauty of the costume is also considered important in the case of Onnagata Odori.
One of the characteristics of Kabuki is the flashy makeup called “Kumadori” that appears in the period drama. There are about 50 main types of masks, and their colours and designs represent the main aspects of the actors. Red is considered “good” to represent virtue, passion and superhuman power, while blue is considered “evil” to represent negative qualities such as jealousy and fear.
The most important instrument in kabuki is the shamisen, and there are two genres of music performed on stage in front of the audience: lyrical music called nagauta (long songs) and narrative music sung with shamisen and other instruments as accompaniment. A typical nagauta ensemble consists of several shamisen players, singers, drummers, and flute players.
In addition to the music on stage, singers and musicians playing shamisen, flutes, and various percussion instruments are located offstage. They provide a variety of background music and sound effects.
In Kabuki, two blocks of wood (hyoshigi) are beaten together or wooden planks are bumped against each other to create dramatic sound effects.