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National Theatre of Japan

Discover Japanese performing arts at this historic institution.

Noh and Kabuki might not do it for everyone, but whether you’re an avid theatre geek or a complete novice, the National Theatre provides an enigmatic introduction. Located in Chiyoda-ku, easily accessible on the Tokyo subway, the National Theatre puts on regular shows and workshops year-round.

The National Theatre is made up of two different theatres; the large theatre can fit up to 1610 people, the small theatre can fit 590. Both offer two completely different experiences depending on what you’re watching.

The larger theatre often holds performances of the famous traditional Japanese arts like Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku. The smaller theatre offers a more intimate atmosphere making it the perfect option if you fancy indulging in an evening of Gagaku, or Japanese court music.

Put off by the archaic Japanese or lack of theatrical knowledge? Don’t be.

Most, if not all, programmes are easily accessible for foreign visitors because of the English language performances and workshops that they regularly put on.

The art of Bunraku or Japanese puppet theatre requires three puppeteers to bring the dolls to life.

The art of Bunraku or Japanese puppet theatre requires three puppeteers to bring the dolls to life.

For example, the Discover Kabuki performance combines an hour introduction to Kabuki theatre, covering its long history and the main concepts, along with a one-act show (usually lasting an hour and a half). A professional actor and English-speaking host will guide you through. It’s fantastic to see how the actors’ movements are directed, as well as all of the tricks of the stage and scenery – you’ll appreciate the performance that follows much more.

Subtitles and audio guides are supplied for free if you attend one of the shows. Audio guides do cost a small fee for a regular performance but they are incredibly useful, providing commentary in four languages (English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese). Yup, Kabuki is to Japanese people, like Shakespeare is to more western audiences.

If traditional Japanese theatre gets you hyped (don’t judge, guys) then the theatre’s souvenir shop is full of unique little trinkets and English-language books that go into more detail about the various art-forms, some of which are quite hard to find in normal shops.

Things To Know

Ticket Prices

Just like there are many varying performances, there are just as many varying ticket prices. Your average performance will usually cost between 3000-4000 yen. More information about ticket prices and current performance schedules can be found on the National Theatre website: http://www.ntj.jac.go.jp/english.html.

How To Get There


Japan, 〒102-0092 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Hayabusachō, 4−1 国立劇場

By train

A 5 minute walk away from Hanzomon Station on the Hanzomon Line or a 10 minutes walk from Nagatacho Station which can be accessed from the Yurakucho, Hanzomon or Namboku Lines. Both routes are fairly well-signposted.

Where To Stay

The Kitano Hotel Tokyo
  • 2-16-15 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0093 Japan
  • ¥52,000 - ¥435,000
  • 4.55/5 (44 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
Toshi Center Hotel Tokyo
  • 2-4-1 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0093 Japan
  • ¥11,000 - ¥45,540
  • 4.06/5 (2,531 reviews)
  • 0.4 km
Diamond Hotel
  • 1-10-3 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0083 Japan
  • ¥11,500 - ¥25,000
  • 0.4 km
Hotel Monterey Hanzomon
  • 23-1 Ichibancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0082 Japan
  • ¥17,200 - ¥56,210
  • 4.13/5 (4,993 reviews)
  • 0.6 km
Hotel New Otani
  • 4-1 Kabushikigaishiya Niyu--O-Tani, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-8578 Japan
  • ¥49,470 - ¥413,236
  • 4.26/5 (1,735 reviews)
  • 0.7 km