Translated by Shinji Takaramura
How To Enjoy Kabukiza Theater Without Buying A Ticket
Written by MATCHA
At Kabukiza, the main venue for Kabuki performances in Tokyo, visitors can enjoy exhibits related to the world of Kabuki and also find wonderful souvenirs. This facility can be enjoyed freely, without buying tickets!
Enjoy Kabukiza without a Ticket
Kabuki may be the best known traditional performing art in Japan. Kabukiza, located in Ginza, is a premier theater to watch Kabuki. It is the only theater in Japan which hosts Kabuki performances throughout the year. If you have the chance visit, don't miss out.
Some people, although being interested in Kabuki, may be worried if they will be able to appreciate a performance in a foreign language. They also may not have the time to watch a long program.
There is no need to worry. There are facilities in Kabukiza where visitors can experience the world of Kabuki without buying a ticket.
This article will introduce facilities located within Kabukiza such as Kabukiza Gallery, which displays costumes and items used on the stage, and Kobikicho Square, an area with souvenir shops.
1. Kabukiza Gallery - Behind the Scenes
The Kabukiza Gallery is located on the fifth floor of the Kabukiza Tower. Visitors can get a real feeling for Kabuki, as the facility displays costumes and items used in the actual performances.
An optical illusion welcomes the visitors at the entrance.
For details of the exhibitions please refer to the English pamphlet.
** Please note that exhibitions may change in accordance with the season.
Riding a Horse Used on Stage
The first exhibition showcases the animal costumes. The photograph above is a wild boar. Although it may look humorous, this prop is used in a tragic scene where a character mistaken for a wild boar is shot.
This is a stage horse, mounted by the noble characters.
Two people will be required inside this costume and they have to work together. It is said that real horses were used until the Meiji Period. Due to some troubles, the stage horse was invented.
Visitors can even sit in the saddle, and feel like a Kabuki actor themselves.
The Sound Effects
The next exhibition is about sound effects. For example, listen to this sound.
What does it sound like?
Seashells were used to create this sound. Rub them together, and the audience will hear the frogs croaking. Kabuki uses unique tools to make all kinds of sounds.
If you move the wooden handle, and it will sound like the paddle of a boat.
Visitors can ride this boat, which was actually used on stage.
A boat scene will not be complete without the sound of waves. Click the icon below.
Do you want to know what's the source of the gentle waves?
Adzuki beans, used to make anko, are rustled to create the sound. Various items are employed to add ambiance to each scene.
You can also find a small Kabuki stage. Take your shoes off, step on the stage, and become a Kabuki actor yourself
The boards were relocated from a Kabukiza stage. The current theater was rebuilt in 2012, and the small stage was brought from the old theater.
The boards have small holes, made by the nails which secured various items on the stage.
There is also a short hanamichi by the stage. A Hanamichi is unique to the Kabuki stage. It is a runway protruding from the stage through the audience. The actors use it in important scenes, or when they appear on stage.
Picture courtesy of Kabuki Za
This is the hanamichi in the current Kabukiza. The leading actor, standing tall on the hanamichi, enthralls the audience delivering his impressive performance.
Costumes used in the programs are also on display, enabling the visitors to feel the Kabuki atmosphere even more.
There are many interesting exhibitions, so even visitors who haven't seen Kabuki will be able to enjoy the gallery.
The admission fee is 600 yen for adults and 500 yen for Junior High and Elementary School children. Pre-school children can enter the gallery for free. Please note that credit cards are not accepted.
How to Access the Exhibition Space
The gallery entrance is a short distance away from the theater entrance.
Turn left at the theater entrance, turn right at Cafe PRONTO on the corner, and the gallery entrance, shown in the photograph, will come into view. Take the elevator to the fifth floor.
2. Kobikicho Square - Kabuki-related Souvenirs
When you visit Kabukiza, don't forget to stop by the Kobikicho Square. It is a souvenir shop shotengai (shopping street), located on the second basement floor. Here you can find souvenirs related to Kabuki, as well as staple items such as wagashi and tenugui.
The square is easy to access, as it is directly connected to the Higashi Ginza Station of the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Toei Asakusa Line. Visitors can browse the shops without buying tickets for the Kabukiza.
We will introduce you to some of the most popular items.
** Please note that the shops at Kobikicho Square change regularly, and some items listed below may not be available.
Kabuki Face Pack
This is a facial mask is printed with kumadori, a makeup design used in Kabuki. It is priced at 900 yen including tax. Use it yourself, or bring it as a gift for your friends.
"Super Kabuki II: One Piece," based on the famous manga "One Piece," was staged in 2015 and became a bit hit in modern Kabuki. This facial mask design is a tie-in product, specially created for the fans of the play.
At Kobikicho Square, there are various items with the kumadori design. The photograph shows a blotting paper for the face. It absorbs excess oil, eliminating the shine from the face. It is priced at 345 yen including tax.
These are chopsticks made from baseball bats. An especially unique item. The kumadori design can be found only at Kabukiza. They are priced at 2,000 yen without tax.
The photograph shows postcards with famous scenes from various Kabuki programs. Perfect as a souvenir, as they are inexpensive (priced at 100 yen including tax) and can be used to write back home.
This golden postcard depicts the final scene from the well-known program "Kanjincho."
There is an area featuring wagashi shops in the square. Most of the shops offer free samples, so give them a try.
Please note that some of the confectionaries have a short shelf life.
Access to the Kobikicho Square
The square is located on the second basement floor of Kabukiza. It is directly connected to the Higashi Ginza Station of the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and the Toei Asakusa Line. Search for Exit 3 when exiting the platform, and the square will come into view. The escalator in the photograph leads to Kabukiza.
The Kobikicho Square cannot be accessed directly from inside the theater. Go out the entrance, and descend the escalator on the left side.
Have Fun at Kabukiza!
There are various ways to have fun at Kabukiza, even if you don't have a ticket. Enjoy the theater, along with your trip to Japan.
This article was written in cooperation with Kabukiza.
This is a revised version of the original article published on September 30, 2015.