Where: Tokyo, Higashi Ginza Station, Asakusa Line, Exit 3. When you exit, you go around the corner and the building is right there on your right. If you get out at Ginza Station, look for exit A6 (which isn’t an exit at all, but rather an underground walkway that leads directly to Higashi Ginza Station) then precede to Higashi Ginza Station, Exit 3.
Duration: 2-5 hours depending on ticketing.
A Brief History: Kabuki is a play-like performance that combines acting, dancing, singing, and music to unfold a story. However, this is not your Phantom of the Opera or Wicked musical. Everything in Kabuki is far subtler, and much is portrayed from the smallest movement an actor makes. It has been a popular form of play in Japan for almost four centuries.
Point of Interest: One interesting thing about Kabuki is that audience members, usually those sitting in the top tier of the balcony, yell things at the actors at certain points. Also in Kabuki, men act out both the male parts and the female parts. The costumes are elaborate and often face paint and certain colors let the audience know whether the character is good, strong, evil, or a turncoat. Love the symbolism!
Recommendation: 2.5/5, if you have other things in Tokyo you’d rather do, I’d say go for them instead. I enjoyed my time waiting in line and it was definitely an interesting experience. The style of acting is far different than anything I’ve seen before and you literally have to use your imagination to understand what’s happening. It’s quite interesting and unexpected, but I was glad that a stood in line for a single-act ticket rather than invested an entire day in watching the show.
*Note: A device that has English translations may be rented before the show. I would highly recommend it. I had one and it made the show easier to follow. I watched other non-Japanese speakers who had no device through the show, and they looked highly uncomfortable and bored. It’s not the type of show you can expect to have a huge amount of entertainment from while not understanding the language.
**Note: You are not allowed to take pictures or video during the performances.
***Note: While you can purchase online tickets in advance, you can only buy single-act tickets the day of the performance by sitting outside at least 1 hour before the performance you want to see. If you get there early enough, there will be sitting space provided for you. Single-act tickets are also far cheaper than going to the entire 1/2 of performances and each story line finishes within the act.