The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Artist Database
Function: stage director playwright art director
Company: Sajiki Doji

Higashi was born in Fukuoka Prefecture. He launched the Sajiki Doji theater company in 1999, and he represents, directs, and writes the company's productions under the pen name Sajiki Doji. Many of his works are based on real events and his own experiences in Fukuoka, the city in Kyushu where he grew up. In his nostalgic and lyrical dramas, Higashi uses a huge stage mechanism that he designed himself to move the whole stage around, and his dynamic direction and superbly blended theatrical world create a massive catharsis. He has gained a wide range of fans from all generations with his strong characters that portray a craving for life. Higashi was shortlisted for the Kishida Drama Award three years running with Shanshan kageboshi (Living Shadows) in 2004, Furaibo raijin yashiki (The Vagabond Thunder God Mansion) in 2005, and Umineko gai (Umineko Town) in 2006.

Photo: Asaka Shingo
Furaibo raijin yashiki (The Vagabond Thunder God Mansion)
It is the Warring States period in the sixteenth century. In Rain God Gorge, the river frequently floods and engulfs the fields and houses. Locals believe this is due to the anger of the dragon god, so in order to placate it each year they offer a virgin as a living sacrifice. This year it is the turn of Shino, the daughter of the village headman. Before the sacrificial rites take place, however, Shino escapes with her lover, Chiyomaru, but they are captured by the villagers. Just as they are about to be punished, Ahomaru, who has been raised in order to be offered in sacrifice, appears…

First staged: 2005
Acts/scenes: 4 acts, 8 scenes
Cast: 17 (8 male, 9 female)
First staged by: Sajiki Doji

Photo: Asaka Shingo
Umineko gai (Umineko Town)
Set just after Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904—5) in a town known locally as Umineko Town that is enclosed within a sheer precipice. Contrary to the general mood of victory, this town is forced to live in poverty. One day, the Genkaiyugei-sha company, which has grown wealthy from whaling, sends notice that it is coming to inspect the location for use as awarship transportation relay port. If it is selected, it will give a boost to the local economy and so the locals welcome the inspection party. However, Genkaiyugei-sha’s female chairman, Chigusa, has a different objective, which involves the lowly female divers (ama) disdained even by the locals…

First staged: 2006
Acts/scenes: 4 acts, 13 scenes
Cast: 19 (8 male, 11 female)
First staged by: Sajiki Doji