Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kabuki-za Theatre to be Demolished

Sad news! Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginza, Tokyo is scheduled to be demolished. The original Kabuki-za was built in 1889. It has been rebuilt on several occasions, due to earthquake and air raid damage. The latest incarnation was built in 1951.

Shochiku Co. Ltd says they made the decision because improvements, include retrofitting for earthquakes, fire-proofing, and adding accessibility for those with disabilities would be too costly. This point is arguable, but it is unlikely that the demolition will be called off.

Kabuki-za will close April 2010 and is tentatively scheduled to re-open in 2013. Details on the closure will be announced January 2009.

Nippon Sekai

I attended my first Kabuki performance at Kabuki-za in 2002. Acts included Oniji Hyoshimai, a Kojo for the naming of Shoroku III, Funa Benkai (my favorite dramatic Kabuki play), and Sakanya Sogoro. Since then, I was unable to attend another performance until 2008 which included Kotobuki Soga no Taimen (one of the Soga Brothers plays), a Kojo for the death anniversary of renowned actor Matsumoto Hakuo, Ichinotani Futaba Gunki, and Shunkyo Kagami Jishi (another favorite). In light of the impending closure, I will definitely plan to see a performance in October and perhaps again in early 2010. I sincerely hope that Shochiku will keep the classic architectural style, rather than going with the cold, modern style seen everywhere else in Ginza.


  1. I never managed to see anything in the theatre! Our timing was always off (no shows that day), or only the expensive seats were left, etc. I'm so sad!

    If only I could afford one last trip to Japan. :(

    And I'm with you on keeping the old style; I think it would appeal to more people that way.

  2. I missed seeing Tamasaburo Bando perform acts from Ichiriki Teahouse there in 2007 due to an early sell-out.

    I hope something lucky comes up for you to visit in the next year. It's worth seeing at least once, if only for one act. Though, I know the expense to travel is almost unthinkable at this time.