O-muko (written as '大向う' or '大向こう'; literally, 'the welcome other side') comes originally from seats seen from the stage, and at present, it is used as a term referring to the front seats of the third floor of theatres and to the audience at those seats (in present Kabuki-za Theatre of Tokyo, it refers to the seats for b-class tickets and the seats on the highest balcony for a single act). The term, o-muko is used for mainly the audience of kabuki, and it often refers to 'migousha' (connoisseur) who takes those cheaper seats to come to the theatre very often; Kabuki-za Theatre might have set up 'maku-mi-seki' (seats on the highest balcony for a single act) originally for those connoisseurs. O-muko wo Unaraseru' (literally, 'make o-muko hum,' means making a deep impression on the o-muko) means that the actor did an excellent job of acting enough to make those connoisseurs admire his performance.
O-muko also means 'kakegoe' (cheering) by the audience at o-muko and such audience. The term, kakegoe is also used for mainly the audience of kabuki. The following is the details of 'kakegoe' ('o-muko').
During performances of kabuki, audience in the seats of o-muko does kakegoe to create a particular mood for each performance. In the past, during some performances, actors skillfully used kakegoe, then such collaboration between actors and audiences had gradually become set, and at present some performances can't be formed without kakegoe.
Some audiences practicing kakegoe are given a free pass 'kido-gomen' on condition the audience has to belong to a kakegoe society ('kakegoe no kai').
However, kakegoe is often heard by members of the audience who don't belong to a kakegoe society.
Note that '大向う' (o-muko) originally means the other side seen from the stage ('向う' (muko) means 'the other side'), and '大' represents the respect from actors toward audiences based on the idea 'the visitors are the gods' (often used in service industry as 'the customer is always right'), therefore, it is a wrong usage when audience says 'I'll do o-muko.'
Rules for kakegoe (o-muko)
Kabuki has been developed as popular entertainment, therefore, the audience doesn't need to get tensed up as long as they have good manners using common sense. However, as for kakegoe, since there are shouts from the audience during performances and it sometimes might become annoying, there are unwritten rules as follows. Note that they are not strict rules, however, they are considered to be the manners to be observed when watching kabuki.
What the audience is allowed when practicing kakegoe
As long as the rules are followed, anyone is allowed to practice kakegoe. The audience doesn't need to belong to a kakegoe society to practice kakegoe.
For practicing kakegoe, the audience should take the posterior seats in the auditorium. Those seats are cheaper, and shouts from such seats sound well in the whole place because the ceiling reflects the voices. Members of the audience shouldn't shout from the seats of 'sajiki-seki' (elevated wooden seats on both sides of an auditorium for expensive tickets) nor from seats on the first floor. Shouts from the anterior seats disturb other members of the audience. Besides, the shouts from the anterior seats make the audience sitting in the posterior seats feel left out.
Good timing of kakegoe: It is different for each performance; usually, the audience practices kakegoe while the actors are crossing 'hana-michi' (elevated runway), walking in or out of 'age-maku' (the end of a hana-michi; hana-michi is stretched from age-maku to the stage, actors use it for performing important scenes and entrances and exits), doing 'hikkomi' (exit), performing 'mie' poses and during 'hyoshi-gi' (wooden clappers) are beaten at 'maku-gire' (the end of an act). Audience is allowed to practice kakegoe onlywhen performers are not reading lines or singing.
Sex: Usually, only men are allowed to practice kakegoe. Women are not allowed.
Voice: the Audience should perform kakegoe with audible voices which are carried well in the auditorium. It should be a shout which people can regard as kakegoe. It shouldn't be a soliloquy in a loud voice.
Varieties of kakegoe (o-muko)
Kakegoe for actors
The followings are the varieties of kakegoe for actors.
1. Yago: It is the basic kakegoe. Basically, kabuki actors should be called by yago, not by myoseki ('yago' is substitute name which actor calls himself; in the Edo period kabuki actors were not allowed to use their surnames, so they used yago; 'myoseki' is a successive name); therefore, the twelfth Danjuro ICHIKAWA (myoseki) should not be called 'Ichikawa-san' nor 'Danjuro-san' ('san' means 'Mr.'), he should be called 'Narita-ya-san' ('Narita-ya' is his yago).
"Narita-ya" for Danjuro ICHIKAWA (the twelfth)
"Otowa-ya" for Kikugoro ONOE (the seventh)
"Omodaka-ya" for Ennosuke ICHIKAWA (the third)
"Nakamura-ya" for Kanzaburo NAKAMURA (the eighteenth)
"Kinokuni-ya" for Sojuro SAWAMURA (the ninth)
For further details about yago, refer to the article "Kabuki Yakusha no Yago Ichiran" (the Catalogue of Yago of Kabuki Actors).
2. Adding a prefix to yago while removing 'ya'
Prefix '大' (o): It is used for the most important elder and the star actor among the actors who share the same yago.
"O-Harima" for Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the first) whose yago is Harima-ya
"O-Narikoma" for Utaemon NAKAMURA (the sixth) whose yago is Narikoma-ya
"O-Matsushima" for Nizaemon KATAOKA (the thirteenth) whose yago is Matsushima-ya
The prefix 'o' shouldn't be used for Narita-ya, Otowa-ya, Nakamura-ya, Kinokuni-ya and so on.
Prefix '若' (waka): It is used for star actors of the up-coming generation.
"Waka-Tenno" for the first son of Tomijuro NAKAMURA (the fifth), Takanosuke NAKAMURA whose yago is Tennoji-ya
Prefix '豆' (mame): It is used for underage star actors of the up-coming generation.
"Mame-Matsushima" for the first son of Takataro KATAOKA, Sennosuke KATAOKA whose yago is Matsushima-ya
Using the first letter for the actor's name as a prefix
"Mata-harima" for Matagoro NAKAMURA (the second) whose yago is Harima-ya ('又 (mata)' is the first letter of the actor's name '又五郎')
3. Using names of towns where the actors' houses are located: It is used for actors co-starring with higher-ranked actors who share the same yago and are not relatives.
4. Ordinal number 'daime' of actor's successive name: Often used while actors are performing their specialties that have been passed down for generations, and during plays, set before the Edo period, that are being performed. It is often especially used at performances when announcing that actors have succeeded to a new name and at performances soon after the announcements.
"Juni-daime" (the twelfth) for Danjuro ICHIKAWA
"Shichi-daime" (the seventh) for Kikugoro ONOE
Among audiences of kabuki, "Kyu-daime" (the ninth) usually refers to the ninth Danjuro ICHIKAWA, "Roku-daime" (the sixth) usually refers to the sixth Kikugoro ONOE, therefore, at present, "Kyu-daime" and "Roku-daime" are rarely used for the other actors.
5. Nicknames of actors
"Daitoryo" for Sadanji ICHIKAWA (the second) who had been taking a positive attitude toward performing plays from foreign countries ('daitoryo' means 'president;' in Japan, it also suggests the president of America or a representative of foreign countries)
"O-dokei" (literally, 'big clock') for Hikosaburo BANDO (the sixth) who had been known as a collector of the clock and watch
"Ginko-in" (bank clerk) for Sansho ICHIKAWA (the fifth) who had resigned as an office worker to succeed to Danjuro ICHIKAWA
"Kocho-sensei" (principal) for Kikugoro ONOE (the sixth) who had been the principal of Nihon Haiyu Gakko (Actors School of Japan)
Audiences shouldn't call actors by other roles' names that actors have played in other performances. Following this manner, audience shouldn't call Koshiro MATSUMOTO (the ninth) "La Mancha no Otoko" ("Man of La Mancha" in which Koshiro played the leading part), nor call Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the second) "Onihei Hanka-cho" ("Onihei's Crimes Note" in which Kichiemon played the leading part).
6. Surnames of actors: Used when almost all the co-starring actors share the same yago, and when the address of the actors as the above example No. 3 is unknown, and when the actors belong to Zenshin-za and don't have myoseki (successive names) of kabuki, and so on. At the plays set after the Meiji era, actors are usually called by surnames, even if the actors have myoseki.
"Hasegawa" for Kazuo HASEGAWA who had returned his myoseki 'Chojiro HAYASHI' and yago 'Narikoma-ya' when he had left Shochiku Movie Studio (in the procedure, myoseki is returned to the society formed of the people sharing the same yago).
"Mizutani" for Yaeko MIZUTANI (the second)
7. Versatile kakegoe: It is used for any actor.
"Nippon-ichi" (the best in Japan)
"Matte-mashita" (we'd been waiting for you)
"Go-Ryonin" (you the best-matched pair)
8. Feeling of o-muko (audience)
"Tappuri" or "Tappuri-to" (entertain us a great deal)
"Otosan Sokkuri" or "…daime Sokkuki "(you are just like your father or just like the …th); this kakegoe is to cheer when a young actor challenges to play a role in which a deceased star actor had made a hit, however, it is usually used to criticize performances for poverty of originality.
"Yoku Deki-mashita" (you satisfy our expectations)
"Daikon Yakusha" or "Heta-kuso" (you bad actor); at present these kakegoe are rarely heard, however, until before the War, they had been often heard in theatres.
9. Contraction: It has been used by 'Edokko' (people from Tokyo) who are well-known as short-tempered people preferring contraction of words. They often omit the first half of the phrase of kakegoe. People outside of Tokyo (Edo) don't use such contractions of words.
"Taya" for Narita-ya (the end of each kakegoe should be pronounced as a doubled consonant)
"Towaya" for Otowa-ya
"Toya" for Yamato-ya
"Shimaya" for Matsushima-ya and Takashima-ya
"Muraya" for Nakamura-ya
Kakegoe for performers except actors
Sometimes audience does kakegoe for performers of Joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a samisen accompaniment) or of Nagauta (long epic song with shamisen accompaniment). At the performances in which the performers are good at, the audience does kakegoe with expectation; for example, at the opening of the song "Iroha-okuri" of the scene "Terakoya" of "Sugawara-denju Tenarai-Kagami."
Sometimes the audience does kakegoe to admire sceneshifters. Simple kakegoe "O-dogu" (sceneshifters) is allowed, however, another kakegoe "Hasegawa" is often heard since the sceneshifters' names had been 'Kanbei HASEGAWA' for generations during the Edo period. At a famous kabuki "Yotsuya Kaidan", the kakegoe "Hasegawa" is especially often heard, because those incredibly creative sets for the play were invented by the eleventh Kanbei HASEGAWA.
There is an anecdote that tells about actor Kazuo HASEGAWA being confused by the kakegoe "Hasegawa" because he had been called byhis surname after leaving Shochiku.
Performances to which kakegoe (o-muko) are essential
Some performances can't be completed without kakegoe; in such performances, kakegoe is not second fiddle. It is a dance called 'o-matsuri' (festival). In the dance, the leading actor plays 'tobi-gashira' (head of constructors, engineers and firemen) wearing a cool costume for the festival. Following the cheerful dance by many actors, the leading actor comes to the stage.
Then, o-muko does kakegoe: "Matte-mashita!" (We have been waiting for you)
Tobi-gashira responds to the kakegoe: "Matte-ita towa Arigatei." (Thank you for waiting)
That play is often performed as the comeback play after the leading actor takes a long rest because of a serious illness. Therefore, that kakegoe expresses not only the expectation for the appearance of the Tobi-gashira but also the expectation for the leading actor's comeback.
Kakegoe for aiming to evoke laughter is called 'chari'. Basically chari should be refrained from since it often breaks the mood of the performances for evoking rather a malicious laugh. However, sometimes a moderate chari triggers a higher enthusiasm for the performance. In comedies, sometimes actors take advantage of the energy of chari to arouse the audience to enthusiasm.
Example 1: In "Migawari Zazen," in the scene the leading character is about to go to the other woman, grinning from ear to ear, says: "To Hanago's place."
O-muko (audience): "Have a nice visit!"
After a while, the leading character appears again from age-maku (curtain at the end of the elevated runway).
O-muko: "Welcome home!"
Example 2: In "Ishi-kiri Kajiwara," at the scene the leading character cuts a huge stone basin in half in an instant
Kozue (the supporting part): "Wow, father."
Rokudayu (the supporting part): "Kirite mo Kirite!" (The best swordsman amongst swordsmen)
Kajiwara (the leading part): "Ken mo Ken!" (The best sword amongst swords)
O-muko: "Yakusha mo Yakusha!" (The best actor amongst actors)
Those kakegoe are allowed as long as the o-muko has a good technique.
Example 3: In various performances
Actor A: "Sah" ('sah' is a call for urging other person)
Actor B: "Sah"
Actor A and Actor B in the style of 'kuriage' (gradually elevate their voice): "Sah, sah, sahsahsahsah!"
O-muko: "Sah, what are you going to do!?"
Example 4: When a real father and son play the roles of a parent and a child (sometimes mother and daughter), at the scene such actors embrace each other shedding tears of emotion
At the peak of the performance moving the audience to tears
O-muko: "Happy parent and child!"
Where kakegoe would break the mood of the scene and might be frowned at.
Kabuki is just a performing art, so there is no strict rule; however, the audience comes to see the stage, not to pay for kakegoe, therefore, o-muko should be careful that kakegoe doesn't spoil the performance.
Shizuo YAMAKAWA, a former newscaster of NHK, is known as an o-muko who did such chari.
When O-Harima (the first Kichiemon NAKAMURA) played the leading character in "Kochiyama," in the scene he slyly gets some koban (oval gold coin) and looks around uneasily
Shizuo YAMAKAWA: "Nobody's watching you!"
The whole audience burst into laughter and lost their concentration on the stage.
By accident, NHK was recording the performance, so the complete Yamakawa chari has been kept in NHK record library as well. Listening to the record, it is known that O-Harima waited until the audience settled down, and at miraculously good timing, resumed performing as the bad cha-bozu (tea-server); he took advantage of the laughter triggered by Yamakawa's chari and finished the performance perfectly fascinating the audience. That is a good example of an actor saving a bad chari that almost spoiled the performance. If Yamakawa did the chari expecting that the expert O-harima would be able to use the chari in good way, Yamakawa is considered to have had a good technique; however, this is doubtful.
Societies of kakegoe
Some o-muko are forming societies authorized by the theatres. In Tokyo, there are three societies.
In the Kansai region, there is the Hatsune-kai. O-muko who belong to such society have the free pass 'kido-gomen'.