Suppon, meaning “snapping-turtle,” is a word used to describe a stage trap located at the place on the hanamichi called shichisan. It is used for the entrances and exits of ghosts, sorcerers, and other unusual characters. It is about two feet and eight inches in width and four to five feet feet in length and is mechanized so the floor can go up and down.
Three theories attempt to explain the derivation of the term. One claims it comes from the resemblance of the actor’s head – when it is seen rising from below – to that of a turtle in its shell. Another holds that since the corners of the trap are slightly rounded, it resembles a tortoise shell. The third theory states that the name comes from the sound made when the trap rises to the level of the hanamichi floor, which resembles that of a snapping turtle.
KABUKI ENCYCLOPEDIA by SAMUEL L. LEITER
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