Kaho Gekijou Kabuki Theater
Go behind the scenes at this kabuki institution.
Situated in Iizuka in the idyllic rural region of Chikuho, Fukuoka Prefecture, the Kaho Gekijo Kabuki Theatre offers authentic kabuki performances throughout the year as well as playing host to the Zenkoku Zacho Taikai, where elite kabuki performers congregate to perform a day’s worth of shows.
Can’t catch a performance? You can still go behind the scenes, either by yourself or with a free guided tour.
You’re free to wander backstage and below the stage to see how it is moved, as well as acting out your private fantasies of kabuki stardom on stage.
While guided tours are only offered in Japanese, the many visual displays – including posters from previous shows – and hands-on activities are well worth the small entrance fee.
Built in 1931, the Kaho Gekijou was modelled on the traditional kabuki theatres of the Edo period. Its architectural style, known as edo-kabuki, is characterized by a resemblance to traditional Japanese castle architecture and bears much similarity to pre-Edo period temples.
A prosperous coal mining region, Chikuho was once home to 48 kabuki theaters. But following the decline of the coal industry and the collapse of the economy, all but the Kaho Gekijo Kabuki Theatre were shut down.
While it may not be the biggest, the theater can house 1200 occupants and features a 16-meter diameter revolving stage that is manually rotated by 12 men during the show. You may even be offered a chance to turn the wheel during your tour. The two hanamichi, also characteristic of the Edo-kabuki architectural style, are used by the actors to enter and exit the stage.