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Kabuki-za, Tokyo's premier kabuki theater
4-12-15 Ginza, Chūō-ku
Coordinates35°40′11″N 139°46′5″E / 35.66972°N 139.76806°E / 35.66972; 139.76806
OwnerKabuki-za Theatrical Corporation
TypeKabuki theater
Opened21 November 1889

Kabuki-za (歌舞伎座) in Ginza is the principal theater in Tokyo for the traditional kabuki drama form.[1]


The Kabuki-za was originally opened by a Meiji era journalist, Fukuchi Gen'ichirō. Fukuchi wrote kabuki dramas in which Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and others starred; upon Danjūrō's death in 1903, Fukuchi retired from the management of the theater. The theater is now run by the Shochiku Corporation which took over in 1914.

The original Kabuki-za was a wooden structure, built in 1889 on land which had been either the Tokyo residence of the Hosokawa clan of Kumamoto, or that of Matsudaira clan of Izu.[2][3]

The building was destroyed on 30 October 1921, by an electrical fire.[3] The reconstruction, which commenced in 1922, was designed to "be fireproof, yet carry traditional Japanese architectural styles",[4] while using Western building materials and lighting equipment. Reconstruction had not been completed when it again burned down during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. Rebuilding was finally completed in 1924.[3]

The theater was destroyed once again by Allied bombing during World War II.[3] It was restored in 1950[3] preserving the style of 1924 reconstruction, and was until recently one of Tokyo's more dramatic and traditional buildings.[4]

The 1950 structure was demolished in the spring of 2010, and rebuilt over the ensuing three years.[3] Reasons cited for the reconstruction include concerns over the building's ability to survive earthquakes, as well as accessibility issues. A series of farewell performances, entitled Kabuki-za Sayonara Kōen (歌舞伎座さよなら公演, "Kabuki-za Farewell Performances") were held from January through April 2010, after which kabuki performances took place at the nearby Shinbashi Enbujō and elsewhere until the opening of the new theatre complex, which took place on 28 March 2013.[3][5][6]


Shops in basement
Level 5 Roof garden

The style in 1924 was in a baroque Japanese revivalist style, meant to evoke the architectural details of Japanese castles, as well as temples of pre-Edo period. This style was kept after the post-war reconstruction and again after the 2013 reconstruction.

Inside, with the latest reconstruction the theatre was outfitted with four new front curtains called doncho. These are by renowned Japanese artists in the Nihonga style and reflect the different seasons.[7]


Performances are exclusively run by Shochiku, in which the Kabuki-za Theatrical Corporation is the largest shareholder. They are nearly every day, and tickets are sold for individual acts as well as for each play in its entirety. As is the case for most kabuki venues, programs are organized monthly: each month there is a given set of plays and dances that make up the afternoon performance, and a different set comprising the evening show. These are repeated on a nearly daily schedule for three to four weeks, with the new month bringing a new program.


  1. ^ "National Diet Library, "The Meiji and Taisho Eras in Photographs" on-line exhibit (2007)". Archived from the original on 2022-08-29. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  2. ^ Kawajiri, Seitan. "Column: Theatre in Kobiki-cho (木挽町の芝居)" (in Japanese). Kabuki-za Official Homepage. Retrieved 11 April 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Kabukiza". Archived from the original on 2004-08-16. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  4. ^ a b Murakami, Shūzō (18 April 2006). 歌舞伎座の保存に関する要望書 [On the Preservation of Kabuki-za - A Request Letter to Chuō-ku Office] (PDF) (in Japanese). Architectural Institute of Japan. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 April 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
  5. ^ " Kabuki-za to be rebuilt from 2010 Archived 2008-10-27 at the Wayback Machine." Yomiuri Shimbun. 26 October 2008. Accessed 28 October 2008.
  6. ^ Yoshida, Reiji. "Kabuki mecca's days numbered Archived 2008-10-27 at the Wayback Machine". The Japan Times. 23 October 2008. Accessed 28 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Art made to be viewed with the curtains closed - AJW by the Asahi Shimbun". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
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