When I was 14, my best friend and I were obsessed with the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar", and we played the album until we had it memorised.

When I recently saw an ad for a "Japonesque Version" performed by Gekidan Shiki, one of Japan's best-known theatre groups, with the entire cast in the white foundation and flaring makeup lines of traditional kabuki theatre, I knew I had to go.

What I found was a powerful, if sometimes disconcerting, blend of Japan and Jerusalem.

The "Japonesque Version", Shiki founder Keita Asari's 1973 adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's original, came amid a wave of localised versions around the globe.

Shiki also does a more conventional "Jerusalem Version."

"There was a New York version, so I thought I should do a kabuki version," Asari said recently, surrounded by the cast after the musical's final dress rehearsal in Tokyo.