Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
"Because she told me not to look in that chamber that is precisely why I want to look there," said a character in the Kabuki play "Kurozuka" at Tuesday night's opening at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
The Japanese embassy on Nebraska Avenue also opened Tuesday night, for a reception after the show, and the guests showed the same universal impulse. But the embassy is not entirely finished, and its Grand Salon and other unfurnished rooms proved to be locked as a precaution against such curiosity.
The new embassy, designed by Isoya Yoshida before his death three years ago, is a 63,000-square-foot building covering 7.6 acres including an artificial lake and waterfall. It looks like a cross between the Tokyo Hilton and White Flint.
"This is not really the housewarming," said a Japanese diplomat; that will be in October or November when the building is completely furnished and the landscaping - it will include a swimming pool and "barbeque huts" as well as traditional Japanese gardens - is completed.
However, Tuesday night's preview was on a grand scale. There was an enormous dragon with huge diagonal teeth carved in ice, presiding over the chocolate mousse, and matching chandeliers oversaw a buffet table of stuffed lobster and tempura.
The embassy's grand hallway, which compares favorably with the Kennedy Center grand foyer - that is to say, the embassy does not have a leaky ceiling - is furnished only with knee-deep rugs. It overlooks a grand vista, including the artificial lake and waterfall, at the end of which is a Japanese tearoom.
The Kabuki troupe showed up after the performance Tuesday night, all identically clad in black silk and carrying fans. They filed solemnly by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and bowed to him, one by one. Kissinger said he had gotten a taste for Kabuki in Japan and chicly added that he preferred the second play of the evening, which was more restrained, more like Noh drama, than the first.
And when he was asked if he had seen full Kabuki plays in Japan - they run to five or even 10 hours - he diplomatically replied, "Much of it."