Culture

Enjoy Kabuki At These 4 Theaters in Tokyo and Osaka

For those of you who are interested in watching Kabuki(歌舞伎), here are four places within Tokyo and Osaka where you can watch a play.

1) Kabuki-za(歌舞伎座): Higashi-Ginza, Tokyo

This is a historical theater located in Ginza, making it easily accesible to drop in for a play after shopping in the area. The theater was built back in 1889 in an area called Kobiki-cho at the time, and has been known as the hallmark theater for Kabuki. It has endured number of disasters throughout history, but has managed to rebuild each time. The theater recently went through renovation in 2013.

Kabuki-za(歌舞伎座)

- Address: Ginza 4-12-15, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
- Access: 
<By train>
・Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or Toei Asakusa Line, get off at Higashi-Ginza (exit 3)
・Take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line, or Hibiya Line, get off at Ginza (5 min walk from exit A7)
・Take the JR or Tokyo Metro Lines, get off at Tokyo Station and take a 10-min cab right
- Tel:+81-3-3545-6800

2) Shinbashi Enbu-jo Theater(新橋演舞場): Shinbashi, Tokyo

This large theater may have brand-new stage systems installed in place, but it still remains rich with history. While Kyoto and Osaka had large theaters for Kabuki plays, there were none available in Tokyo before the Enbu-jo Theater opened in 1925. It was burned down after suffering the damages of the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII, but has rebuilt each time and remain loved by many theater enthusiasts to this day. The theater also has plenty of souvenir items and dining options for people to enjoy.

Shinbashi Enbu-jo Theater(新橋演舞場)

- Address: Ginza 6-18-2, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Japan
- Access: 
<By train>
・Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or Toei Asakusa Line, get off at Higashi-Ginza (5 min walk from exit 6)
・Take Toei Oedo Line, get off at Tsukiji Shijo (3 min walk from exit A3)
<By bus>
Use the following Toei Bus and get off at Tsukiji stop, 3 min walk from the bus stop
(Toei Bus 03 /Toei Bus 04 /Toei Bus 05 /Gyo Bus 10)
- Tel:+81-3-3541-2600

3) Osaka Shochiku-za(大阪松竹座): Osaka

Shochiku-za is a leading Kabuki theater with a long history of bringing dancers and actors from abroad to collaborate with. It was built in 1923 as the first Western-style theater in the Kansai region. Its main entrance has a large, neo-Renaissance style arch, built by the famous architect Tokusaburo Kimura of the Obayashi Corp. The structure served as an iconic symbol of Osaka. On the theater’s opening day in 1923, its aired the German movie “The Loves of Pharaoh”, a Shochiku Kamata work “Mother”, and the play “The Girl from Arles” performed by the Shochiku Theater Troop. It later became the base theater for the Theater Troop,  who performed the revue “Dance of Spring” the following year (the revue remains an annual tradition for the current Theater Troop). The troop collaborated with dancers and actors from abroad, bringing in new culture to the region.

Osaka Shochiku-za (大阪松竹座)

- Address: 9-19, Dotonbori 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Osaka city
- Access: 
<By train>
・Take the Metro Mido-suji Line, Yotsubashi Line, or Sen-nichi Mae Line, get off at Nanba Station (1 min walk from exit 14)

- Tel:+81-3-6214-2211

4) National Theater(国立劇場): Hanzomon, Tokyo

This theater, operated by the Japan Arts Council, host not only Kabuki plays but other buyo(Japanese dance and performing arts). It is also involved in educating the next generation on the arts and conducting research. The Emperor, Empress, Prime Minister, and Parliament members attend the Japan Prize awards ceremony at this theater every year in April. The theater is close to the Japan Diet and the Imperial Palace, making it possible for some sight-seeing after a play.

National Theater(国立劇場)

- Address: 4-1 Hayabusa-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
- Access: 
<By train>
・Take the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, get off at Hanzomon (5 min walk from exit 1)

・Take the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, Hanzomon Line, or Nanboku Line, get off at Nagata-cho (8 min walk from station)
・Take JR Line, get off at Yotsuya (15 min walk from station)
<By bus>
There is a Toei bus available from the National Theater’s main entrance at the end of the play
- Tel:+81-6-6214-2211

Each theater has its unique features and shows different plays, so make sure to check out each theater for what’s available!

Do keep in mind that available shows depend on when you visit the theater.

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