1. Otsuya’s Love
    Photo: Koichi Miura
  2. Otsuya’s Love
    Photo: Koichi Miura

Catch a modern staging of the classic Japanese romance 'A Spring-time Case' in Shizuoka

This theatre play at Shizuoka Performing Arts Center is accompanied by English subtitles

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Shizuoka Performing Arts Center

Times may change, but the tribulations of a romance across different social classes often remain. This reality is thrillingly conveyed by 'Otsuya’s Love', a vibrant theatrical reimagining of an early novel by Japanese literary giant Junichiro Tanizaki, presented at Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

Playwright and director Natsuki Ishigami has, together with cast and crew, taken a deep reading of Tanizaki’s 'Otsuya Koroshi' (also known in English as 'A Spring-time Case') to explore how the story can resonate with modern audiences, with the tale wrapped up in a sensually vibrant stage production that is true to the spirit of Tanizaki, a writer whose work is famed for its erotic charge.

The story tells of the love between the titular Otsuya, sole daughter of a wealthy pawnbroker whose attitude towards life and love inspired Ishigami to create this production, and Shinsuke, a young man serving as an apprentice to Otsuya’s father. In the face of opposition to their relationship from Otsuya’s parents, the couple elope and are aided by a seemingly benevolent pleasure boat owner. Deceit and other complexities ensue, however, leading to murder and a growing body count.

To Tanizaki’s straightforward narrative, director Ishigami’s production brings a double-layered, 'meta'-style approach, in which Otsuya and Shinsuke’s story is told by a fictitious traveling theatrical troupe. Proceedings begin as this band of storytellers eerily invokes Otsuya’s soul.

This contemporary treatment nonetheless preserves the 'rhythm' of the original novel, which Tanizaki penned during Japan's Taisho era (1912-1926) at a stage when he was still working out his literary style, but with his erotic expressionism already apparent. Ishigami has previously presented an interpretation of work by another Japanese literary legend, Yukio Mishima, at SPAC, with her 2022 production of 'Yoroboshi'. Japanese stage dialogue is accompanied by English-language subtitles.

Otsuya’s Love
Photo: Koichi Miura

Name of performance: Otsuya’s Love
Dates: Saturday December 9, Sunday December 10
Time: 2pm
Venue: Shizuoka Performing Arts Center, 2-3-1Higashishizuoka, Suruga-ku, Shizuoka City
Tickets: ¥4,200 (student & disability discounts available)

For more information and to get tickets, check the theatre website.

'Otsuya's Love' is commissioned by Japan Cultural Expo 2.0, organised by Toga Cultural Foundation, Japan Arts Council, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan, and co-hosted by SPAC-Shizuoka Performing Arts Center.

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