Tokyo’s Kabuki-za Theatre is home to the traditional Japanese dance-drama art form known as Kabuki, readily identifiable by heavy makeup, expressive facial expressions, elaborate costumes and theatrical techniques that take audiences by surprise. Although shows are conducted in Japanese, the dazzling performances hold interest to the very end even for non-Japanese speakers. Enjoy a stage spectacle illustrating an art form that has evolved over centuries.
Be prepared for performances to last 3 or more hours. It’s possible to buy tickets for just one act, although you may regret not staying longer. Rent a G-marc Guide that provides captioning for the Japanese words spoken by the performers. Eat a boxed lunch at your seat, which is encouraged during the intermissions, or reserve a table at the theater’s restaurant prior to the performance.
Kabuki is an ancient style of acting permitting only male actors to perform, as mandated in a law passed in 1629. Many first-time theatergoers are amazed that men play female roles. The impersonators are known as onnagata and have become famous in Japan. The stagehands are equally talented by enabling incredible techniques and elaborate costume changes that take only a few seconds. Visit the Kabuki-za Gallery on the fifth floor after a performance to learn how the special effects are achieved and view a display of costumes.
Find the Kabuki-za Theatre in the trendy Ginza area, about a 1-hour drive or train ride from Narita International Airport. The theater is highly recognizable, with its traditional Japanese architecture surrounded by skyscrapers, and is connected to the Higashi-Ginza metro station on the Hibiya Line or Asakusa Line. Ticket prices vary with performances and the theater is accessible.
Go to the box office near the main entrance to purchase tickets for single acts to matinee and evening shows or buy online. Refer to the website to find performance dates and times. Concession stands for food, drinks and souvenirs are located inside the Kabuki-za Theatre.