CultureEssayEtymologyJapanese traditionKanjiSlangUncorrected

Chaban (茶番 – Farce)

  • Nonsense plays, theatrical behavior, and ridiculous acts are called “chaban” (茶番) or “chaban-geki” (茶番劇) in Japan.
    (Here the “geki” (劇) means “drama/play.”)


    “Chaban” is short for “chaban kyogen” (茶番狂言 – chaban comedic drama), which means a traditional short comedic drama using accessible things by poor actors or amateurs.

    The literal meaning of “cha” (茶) means “tea,” and the “ban” (番) means “role,” so “chaban” originally meant waiting staff who serve tea.

    Since they often performed “kyogen” (狂言 – short comedic drama) as a sideshow of Kabuki (traditional Japanese drama performed by male actors), it came to be called “chaban kyogen,” and it has come to have the current meaning.

    Original sentence