Jon Lackman has a very interesting discussion at Slate of the history of the word kabuki in English; I did not know this background:
…the word didn’t appear in print in English until the late 19th-century, and then only rather infrequently. That changed when, following World War II, Japan’s government tried to shed its image as a global marauder by touring its best Kabuki troupes. … Although America’s urban theatergoers lauded Kabuki, their good opinion did nothing to improve ties between the United States and its one-time enemy. Indeed, relations worsened due to drawn-out treaty negotiations. When American official James C. Hagerty visited Tokyo in 1960, protesters surrounded his car, broke its windows, and nearly flipped it.
According to my research, it was in this hostile atmosphere that Kabuki acquired its modern derogatory meaning. Writing in 1961 about a State Department plan to revise its security measures, Los Angeles Times writer Henry J. Taylor declared, “[By] finally dismissing Chester Bowles as undersecretary of state at the moment he did, the President unhitched the plan’s kingpin in this shoddy piece of left-wing kabuki.” Six months later, Taylor struck again, “Agriculture Secretary Freeman announced he has discussed Billie Sol Estes’ political corruption kabuki with Robert F. Kennedy and ‘had mentioned it informally to the president.’ ” Writers have enlivened their prose with Kabuki ever since.
Unfortunately, Lackman spoils the effect of his historical research by insisting that current speakers of English should adjust their usage to reflect the Japanese cultural value of the institution. This would not matter so much except that Slate is billing him as a language columnist. Go to the back of the class until you master the concept of the loan word, sir.