Opened to encourage the preservation and promotion of Japan's ancient art forms, the National Theatre is the place to see musical virtuosos or masters of noh and kabuki strut their stuff on stage. This is not just for theater geeks, either—anyone interested in culture will find this place fascinating.
The National Theatre opened in 1966
There are two theatres, one large and one small
Close by is the Traditional Performing Arts Information Center, open even when the National Theatre is closed
The theatre is a five-minute walk from Hanzomon Station on the Hanzomon Line or a 10-minute walk from Nagatacho Station on the Yurakucho, Hanzomon and Namboku lines.
There are two stages within the National Theatre. The large theater is for kabuki, noh and bunraku performances. Traditional music such as buyo dances, gagaku court music and folk art performances are held in the smaller theater.
English-language audio guides are available for major kabuki and bunraku shows. Put on your headphones to follow the story and learn more about the background of the performance, which will help immerse you in the spirit of traditional Japanese performing arts. English- language performances and workshops are staged regularly as well.
While shows are not held daily, you can always visit the nearby Traditional Performing Arts Information Center to get a feel for how much goes into each production. Built in 2003, this free museum and research center displays the costumes and props used on stage, which you can view up close.