History of Kabukiza
The grand dame of Japan’s kabuki theaters, the Kabukiza theater in Ginza was built in 1889 primarily for performances of kabuki. Luxurious and an icon of the area, this tourist-friendly theater is the place to learn about one of Japan’s most vibrant and captivating traditional art forms. Having been stricken by disaster and rebuilt several times, it most recently reopened in 2013.
Seeking to embody the beauty of Japanese architecture, the theater’s design by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma retains a characteristic tiled roof, camber barge-board (Chinese cusped gables) and Japanese-style balustrades.
The theater’s interior, boasting nearly 2,000 seats and high vaulted ceilings, is no less impressive. You’ll even get a good view of the stage in the cheap seats toward the back and high above the stage.
The stage sets also deserve special mention: revolving platforms and trapdoors allow for rapid scene changes or the sudden appearance or disappearance of actors. Also unique is the hanamichi or footbridge that leads through the audience, allowing for a dynamic entrance or exit.
One of Japan’s three classical theatrical art forms
Alongside with bunraku puppet theater and noh, Kabuki is one of Japan’s traditional theatrical art forms. Dating back to the Edo period (1603-1867), there are many genres of kabuki performance, but they share common elements.
Kabuki’s deliberate motions, exaggerated posturing, and timing are highly technical, and the ornate costumes and accompanying live music are truly captivating.
Even with little or no understanding of the language, the artform’s allegorical nature should make it clear who the heroes and villains are. Kabuki may seem inscrutable to the uninitiated, but you can rent a headset to hear the scenes explained in English.
Right in the act
Kabuki performances usually consist of three or four acts that can last up to five hours.
Parking spaces are available at Kabukiza Building Parking Garage, Togeki Building Parking Garage, and ADK Shochiku Square Building Parking Garage.
Performance schedules for theaters in Kabuki are available at the Kabuki Official Website.
How to get there
Kabukiza is located in Ginza area next to JR Tokyo Station.It is a quick 2-5 minute walk from either Higashi-Ginza Station or Ginza Station on Tokyo Metro subway lines. The theater is about a 15-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station or a 10-minute walk from JR Yurakucho Station on the Yamanote line.
4-12-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo-to