Are you spending some time in Tokyo and would like to experience some traditional aspects of the Japanese culture? Why not head to Kabukiza Theater to enjoy a single act of the famous Kabuki drama?
What is Kabuki?
Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater which originated back in the Edo period. Along with Noh and Bunraku, it’s been named “UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
What makes Kabuki unique is its highly stylized type of performance, which is based on exaggerated actions and movements. These movements are meant to help the audience understand the plot better and are accompanied by the lively sound of traditional instruments and chants. The elaborate costumes and make-up of the actors are other features of this form of drama.
The play is usually a representation of historical events or famous popular tales. Interestingly, the actors on stage are all males and even female roles are performed by men.
Where to watch Kabuki?
Kabukiza is the main venue to enjoy a Kabuki drama in Tokyo. The theater is conveniently located in the heart of Ginza. It is easily accessible from Higashi-Ginza station exit 3.
How to watch a single act of Kabuki
An entire Kabuki performance lasts around 4 hours and tickets may cost up to 20,000 yen. If you’re not a Kabuki expert and this is your first time attending a play, I strongly recommend avoiding to spend so much money. Less expensive seats also sell out very quickly, so if you’re in town and decide to go watch a play last-minute, you might not find any available spot.
But don’t despair! Lucky for you, you can purchase a single act ticket for a max of 1,500 yen! Single Act tickets go on sale on the very day of the performance only and can’t be reserved.
With this ticket, you’ll be able to watch a single act out of three, and enjoy this popular traditional form of theater without too much stress!
**Attention: Single act tickets may sell out quickly. It is advisable that you line up early if you want to make sure to get one.
Tickets usually go on sale from 30 minutes to 2 hours before the act starts. You can purchase them at the Box Office for Single Act, located on the left side of the theater’s main entrance.
There are 96 unassigned seats and 60 standing tickets available for each act. If you’re lucky you might get a seat, but if you aren’t, be prepared to stand for 1 hour and a half.
My experience at Kabukiza
I went to watch the second act of “SANGOKU MUSŌ HISAGO NO MEDETAYA” (Chronicles of the Rise of Toyotomi Hideyoshi). The play is centered on the historical figure of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, daimyo (lord) of the Sengoku period.
It was my first time to a Kabuki drama and I found it to be a very interesting experience. The traditional music, the characters’ way of acting, even the stage itself are completely different from what you can find in western theaters during a classic play.
If you’re curious about foreign cultures and traditional arts, just like I am, I strongly recommend you give it a try. It’s a great way to dive into the charming world of Japanese culture and history. And this is definitely an experience worth having!