Naraku is the Japanese word for “Hell.” It refers to the area beneath the stage and hanamichi. The revolving stage (called mawari butai) and elevator traps (called seri) made it necessary for the theater to have a cellar area, so the naraku was born. It was quite dark below the stage in the early days, so the term naraku was coined to describe the area. Today, the area under the stage houses the electric mechanism that move the traps and make the stage revolve, the heating and air conditioning systems, and some dressing rooms. The term naraku is now applied to the underground passageway running beneath the hanamichi from the stage to the agemaku room.
KABUKI ENCYCLOPEDIA by SAMUEL L. LEITER
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