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Traditional Performing Arts

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Japan is a treasure-trove of traditional performing arts.

You can purchase tickets or obtain details of the theater schedule at the theater box office. Reservations must be made in advance for popular performances. Tickets can be purchased at the "Play guide" ticket sales desks located in large department stores or shopping malls in the main cities.

We recommend that you also check at your hotel, for they may have a ticket sales desk. For more advice on the purchase of tickets or more detailed information, please access the English site of individual theaters or consult with a TIC (Tourist Information Center).


The best known and most loved by people around the world, the traditional performing art of Kabuki is a more popular form of theater than Noh. Rhythmical lines spoken by actors, colorful make-up and a stage full of mechanical devices for special effects are essential characteristics of Kabuki, but the most important is that all the roles, including those of women, are played by male actors.

An explanation in English is available at the Kabuki-za Theater (in Tokyo), the representative theater designed exclusively for Kabuki.

Invitation to Kabuki (Japan Arts Council)
KABUKI official website


The highly stylized theater of Noh exudes the world of yugen, a deeply aesthetic value based on a profound and refined beauty that goes beyond words and concrete shapes. Its origin is in religious ritual and it has a long history of 700 years. Though the actor, dressed in traditional Japanese costume, either wears a mask to hide the expression on his face or performs without expression, his dance is lyrical and graceful.

An Introduction to the World of Noh & Kyogen


A Bunraku puppet play is a wonderful and heartfelt description of conflicts between established ethical ideas and the reality of love and life and turmoil in the emotions of the common people. It is performed along with jouri (ballad chanting) to the accompaniment of shamisen (a 3-stringed musical instrument).

Bunraku is Puppet Theater performed by three puppeteers. The movement of the lead puppet is operated by the three puppeteers working in precise cooperation. The Bunraku puppets almost become alive in the eyes of the audience, accompanied by shamisen music, the narration of dialogue and gorgeous costumes, and one can only marvel at the quality of the performance.

The Osaka Bunraku Gekijo Theater was designed exclusively for Bunraku. This popular performing art attracts large audiences in Osaka, and the National Bunraku Theatre puts on regular performances every other month.

An Introduction to the World of Bunraku