What are the best places to see kabuki in Tokyo?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Nicholas Coldicott

The National Theater in the political heartland of Nagatacho stages periodic kabuki shows, as does the Embujo theater in Shimbashi, but there’s really only one place in Tokyo to see this traditional performance art : the Kabukiza. It’s been around in one form or another since 1889.

The current incarnation opened in April after builders spent three years razing and reconstructing. It’s now attached to a 34-story tower of shops, offices and restaurants. Kabuki’s biggest stars will be performing in a year-long series of shows to mark the reopening.

Kabuki shows can be 4 or 5 hours long, so unless you’re a die-hard fan, it’s best to buy tickets for a single act. They go on sale an hour before showtime. If you want to stay longer, you can pick up a maku-no-uchi (“between act”) bento box inside the theater.

You can rent English audio guides to explain what’s going on, though it’s easier than you might expect to follow the plots without following the words.

The Kabukiza is an easy walk from Ginza or Higashi-Ginza stations.

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