Kabuki Experience for Foreigners! Reasons for the popularity and facilities where you can experience Kabuki are explained.


Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

What would you do if a foreign friend, business partner, or foreign guest asked to see Kabuki?
Many of us Japanese may not know much about Kabuki.

In fact, Kabuki is the traditional culture that foreigners want to experience the most.

With so many foreigners wanting to experience Kabuki, we Japanese need to learn more about Kabuki.

This article explains why Kabuki is so popular with foreigners and what to expect when experiencing Kabuki.
Learn about the joys of Kabuki and its charms.


Why Kabuki is popular among foreigners

In a survey conducted by Motenas Japan, Kabuki ranked first among the “traditional cultures I would like to experience in Japan. That is why Kabuki has so many attractions and is seen as attractive by foreigners.
Here we explain why Kabuki is popular among foreigners. The following are three reasons why Kabuki is popular among foreigners.
Japanese culture and live performance
…and overseas performances are also being held.
Easy-to-understand performance

Japanese cultural character and live performance

Kabuki is a traditional culture filled with the essence of Japanese culture. The performers in kimonos and the make-up kumadori, which gives a strong impression with its vivid colors, are also unique to Japan.
Kabuki is also performed live on the lower side of the stage. In a small room covered with black sudare, taiko drums, bells, and animal voices are also played to accompany the performance.
This cannot be seen from the audience, but the realistic presence of the performance, which is different from just playing the sound source, is probably the very appeal of Kabuki.

Overseas performances are also taking place.

Kabuki originated in Japan, but it is also actively performed overseas. The first overseas performance of kabuki was in the Soviet Union (now Russia) in 1928. Although the success of the performance was in doubt, it exceeded expectations, and Kabuki’s overseas performances got off to a good start.
In 1955, Kabuki performances were held in China, which at the time had no diplomatic relations with Japan. Kabuki was invited to China’s biggest celebration, the National Day, and the performance was part of a cultural exchange program between the two countries.
Kabuki also played a role in current diplomatic and diplomatic exchanges.
Each overseas performance is very popular and is widely covered in the media. Many foreigners want to see Kabuki in its home country of Japan after seeing overseas performances.

Easy-to-understand performance

Kabuki is often said to be difficult to understand or to not understand what is being said, but its performances are easy to understand, dynamic, and expressive with the entire body.
The performance itself is very easy to understand and foreigners will find it easy to understand what it represents.
For those who have difficulty understanding what is being said, earphone guides are available for rent, and there is also a subtitle guide attached to the back of the chairs, so you can enjoy Kabuki more deeply if you use them together.
The pamphlet called “plot guide,” which is sold in the theater, also explains the outline and story of the work, making it easy to understand.

A place where foreigners can experience Kabuki

When a foreigner asks you to experience Kabuki, do you know where they can experience it? There are three main places where you can experience Kabuki.
Kabuki-za Theater
Kabuki on the road
Events, etc.

Kabuki-za (theatre in Tokyo)

Kabuki-za is probably the first place that comes to mind as a place to experience Kabuki. The Kabuki-za is a dedicated Kabuki theater and has a long history, with the first Kabuki-za opening in 1889 (Meiji 22). The current Kabuki-za in Ginza is the fifth generation of the Kabuki-za, which opened in 2013 after being made barrier-free and earthquake-proof.
Performances are held daily at the Kabuki-za Theater, and reservations can be made easily on the Kabuki-za web site. Tickets are also available on various ticket websites, so feel free to make reservations. Same-day tickets are sometimes available, so it is a good idea to check social networking sites and the like.

Business Trip Kabuki Experience

You can also take a business trip to experience Kabuki. Some companies specialize in arranging Kabuki actors for business trips and will be flexible to accommodate your needs. For example, foreigners will enjoy watching kabuki during company training sessions or when you invite kabuki actors to perform at a business entertainment event.
Motenas Japan can also arrange for a business trip to Kabuki.

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Events, etc.

The Kabuki-za Gallery at the Kabuki-za Theater in Ginza sometimes holds events featuring Kabuki costumes and other exhibits.
Although it is necessary to check in advance, as there are days when the exhibit is not on display, the gallery, which features costumes and props actually used on the Kabuki stage, is an enjoyable experience for Japanese as well as foreigners.
Kabuki related exhibits may also be held in department store event halls and event spaces. Surprisingly, there may be exhibits in your neighborhood, so it is a good idea to check them out.

What to expect when foreigners experience Kabuki

What should foreigners be aware of when experiencing Kabuki? Here we explain what to look out for when actually viewing kabuki at a theater such as the Kabuki-za.
There are three things to keep in mind when viewing the exhibition
Turn off your phone.
No recording or filming is allowed.
Be aware of noise in quiet situations.

Turn off your phone.

Turn off your smartphone when watching a stage performance, not just Kabuki. Some people have no problem with silent mode, which makes no sound, but you should turn it off from the power supply.
Kabuki performances sometimes have quiet scenes, and the pauses between them are important. If your phone’s notification turns on or vibrates at such times, you will be dismayed.
When watching a stage performance, not only traditional culture, turn off your smartphone and check notifications after the performance is over.

No recording or filming is allowed.

People who see kabuki for the first time are so excited that they want to record it on their smartphones or digital cameras. This is true not only for foreigners but also for Japanese people. However, as a rule, recording or filming during a performance is prohibited.
If you take pictures, you will make noise and disturb those who are quietly watching the performance. We understand that you may want to take video or photographs to record your trip, but please avoid recording or photographing during the performance.

Pay attention to sound in quiet situations.

When viewing kabuki, there are times when the scene becomes quiet. During such scenes, try to appreciate the performance quietly. It is also a good idea to leave the shouting and clapping that enlivens the stage to the regulars.
One sound that the audience is allowed to make during a Kabuki performance is the “Omukau” call and applause. This is to shout the name of the house, such as “Naritaya! If the timing is wrong, it can interfere with the play.
Also, leave it to the regulars to be the big mukai, as there is an unspoken agreement that men yell, yell from behind such as three times seats, etc.
*Since April 2023, due to the new coronavirus, it has become good manners to wear a mask when going to Omukai.

History of Kabuki

Kabuki has a long history. It is said that “Kabuki Odori” was first performed in Kyoto in 1603 (Keicho 8), and already has a 400-year history. Kabuki is said to have started in Edo in 1624, and it took 20 years for it to be introduced from Kyoto.
There was a time when Kabuki was temporarily banned by the Shogunate for disturbing public morals, but it is said that Kabuki overcame this hardship and formed the foundation of Kabuki as we know it today.
Kabuki is supposed to entertain people with its fashions, and this spirit is still firmly in place today.
Recently, Kabuki has flexibly adopted trends, such as Kabuki based on the popular manga ONEPIECE and Lupin the Third, and collaborations with Hatsune Miku, and Kabuki is still considered a popular traditional culture today.

Facilities where you can experience Kabuki

What types of facilities are available where Kabuki can be experienced? Kabuki used to be performed mainly at the National Theatre in Tokyo, but this theatre is currently closed as part of the aging process. In the meantime, you can still experience kabuki in the following three ways
Kabuki-za Theater (Ginza, Tokyo)
Shinbashi Enbujo (Shinbashi, Tokyo)
Asakusa Public Hall (Asakusa, Tokyo)
Osaka Shochikuza Theater (Namba, Osaka)
Hakataza Theater (Hakata, Fukuoka)

Kabuki-za Theater (Ginza, Tokyo)

The home of kabuki as it is known is probably the Kabuki-za Theater in Ginza, Tokyo. The first Kabuki-za opened in 1889 (Meiji 22), and the current Kabuki-za is the fifth generation. The Kabuki-za overcame many hardships, including the Great Kanto Earthquake, which interrupted construction, and wartime air raids, which destroyed all but the outer walls.
The location has not changed since the first Kabuki-za, and it still continues to view its history in Ginza 4-chome, Chuo-ku.
Name: Kabuki-za Theater
Address: 4-12-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Official website: https://www.kabuki-za.co.jp/

Shinbashi Enbujo (Shinbashi, Tokyo)

Shinbashi Enbujo was opened in 1925 and is located in Shinbashi, Tokyo. 1923 saw the start of construction, but construction was interrupted by the Great Kanto Earthquake. After overcoming hardships, the entire construction was completed over a period of 20 months, and the theater was safely opened. However, the entire inside of the building was destroyed in an air raid, leaving only the exterior.
In 1982, the current performance hall was renovated. The design of the new building, including the bricks at the entrance, was carefully inherited from the spirit of the old performance hall design.
Today, not only Kabuki but also Super Kabuki and concerts are held there.
Name: Shinbashi Enbujo
Address: 6-18-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Official website: https://www.shochiku.co.jp/play/theater/enbujyo/

Asakusa Public Hall (Asakusa, Tokyo)

Asakusa Public Hall is a public hall located in Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, and remains a venue for kabuki, horticulture, concerts and comic performances. There are three types of facilities: a hall, an assembly room, and an exhibition hall, where individuals and groups can hold events.
Many fans look forward to the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s New Year Asakusa Kabuki performances, which are customarily held during the New Year’s holiday and January. Handprints of entertainers associated with Asakusa who have contributed to the promotion of the performing arts are placed in the star square at the main entrance.
Name: Asakusa Public Hall, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Address: 1-38-6 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Official website: https://asakusa-koukaidou.net/

Osaka Shochikuza Theater (Namba, Osaka)

The Osaka Shochikuza opened in 1923, 100 years ago during the Taisho Era (1912-1926), when the growing popularity of movies, stage performances, and music demanded a new theater for a new era. The Osaka Shochikuza survived the severe air raids on Osaka, and soon after the war ended, it resumed showing movies and became a hot topic of conversation.
Today, in addition to kabuki, contemporary drama, and comedy performances, musicals, concerts
We continue to provide diverse and rich content such as rakugo performances.
The theater will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023, and will continue to develop further in the future.
Name: Osaka Shochikuza Theater
Address: 1-9-19 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 542-0071
Official website: https://www.shochiku.co.jp/play/theater/shochikuza/

Hakataza Theater (Hakata, Fukuoka)

Hakataza Theater is located in Fukuoka and is a relatively new theater opened in 1999. It remains a popular theater for viewing kabuki performances, Fukuoka performances of the Takarazuka Revue Company, and musicals, among other classic shows.
Seats are located on the first through third floors, and the facility is characterized by its spacious venue. If you are looking to weave theater into your Hakata sightseeing tour, Hakataza is a recommended theater.
Name: Hakataza Theater
Address: 2-1 Shimokawabatamachi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka 812-0027
Official website: https://www.hakataza.co.jp/


This article has explained why Kabuki is popular among foreigners, where you can experience Kabuki, and what to look out for when experiencing Kabuki.

We hope you can gain some understanding of Kabuki, which has been selected as the best traditional culture to experience in Japan.

Motenas Japan offers several plans to escort foreigners who wish to experience traditional culture such as Kabuki. Please feel free to contact us and let us know what you would like to do and we will make a proposal.

Contact Motenas Japan