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Nakatsugawa, the town of ji-kabuki

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Nakatsugawa, the town of ji-kabuki


Experience Japan’s rural form of kabuki theater

Nakatsugawa City, Gifu Prefecture



Though performed by amateur actors, ji-kabuki, a rural version of kabuki theater, is an art form in its own right.
Kabuki, an Intangible Heritage of Humanity designated by UNESCO, has a history of over 400 years. First performed in the early 17th century, the traditional art form boomed in cities during the Edo period (1603-1867), and troupes of professional actors were often invited to rural areas of Japan to perform on makeshift stages at shrines.
Inspired by these performances, ji-kabuki, a form of amateur theater, emerged in the countryside, with farmers and townspeople emulating professional actors, but with their own, more down-to-earth styles.
Nakatsugawa in eastern Gifu is home to six ji-kabuki preservation organizations that stage performances every year. It also houses three playhouses, founded around 120 years ago, and the 19th-century Kashimo Meijiza, one of few extant traditional theaters featuring a revolving stage and runway.
If your trip does not coincide with a ji-kabuki performance, head to Kashimo Meijiza, a wooden village theater built in 1874. Surrounded by rice fields, it is a beautiful place to learn about traditional Japanese architecture and both professional and ji-kabuki performances.


©Kanazawa City,

How to get there

From Nagoya Station, take a Limited Express Shinano train for about 50 minutes to Nakatsugawa Station. From there, take a bus to the Manga bus stop (about 1 hour). Kashimo Meijiza is about 10 minutes from Manga on foot. 


4793-2, Kashimo, Nakatsugawa-shi, Gifu-ken


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