When people think of Japanese theatre, they think of Kabuki: demonic looking masks, elegant kimonos and drums. Although it sets a much slower pace than western theater styles, an evening at the Kabuki is an enchanting experience. Often recounting tales of old warriors or star-crossed lovers, these are stories that everyone has seen before and can understand.
But most of all it’s the craftsmanship of the costumes, set design and musical ensemble that make a trip to the Kabukiza unforgettable.
After countless reconstructions (the fault of electrical fires or wartime) from its foundation in 1889 onwards, it has pretty much consistently been rebuilt in a baroque Japanese revivalist style, meant to evoke the architectural details of Japanese castles, as well as temples of the pre-Edo period.
Kabukiza on a Budget with Hitomaku-mi Single Act Tickets
Kabuki is an archaic theater form and the Japanese audience members next to you will probably have just as many issues understanding it as an English speaker watching a Shakespeare performance.
In order to appeal to a new generation and a more international audience, the theater has gone above and beyond to make sure Kabuki is as accessible as possible. English audio guides and captions are standard for most performances at the Kabukiza. As well as supplying a translation of the dialogue and lyrics, there is usually a program featuring an explanation about the stories, music, dance, plus other aspects of Kabuki that may be difficult for a first-time viewer to understand.