||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia. (August 2011)|
Kabuki-za, Tokyo's premier kabuki theater
4-12-15 Ginza, Chūō-ku
|Owned by||Kabuki-za Theatrical Corporation|
|Opened||21 November 1889|
|Rebuilt||1911, Tashichi Kashiwagi
1924, Shinichirō Okata
1950, Isoya Yoshida
2013, Kengo Kuma
The building was destroyed on October 30, 1921. Since it burned down from an electrical fire, the second building was designed to "be fireproof, yet carry traditional Japanese architectural styles", and at the same time using Western building materials such as lighting equipment.
The reconstruction commenced in 1922, and was uncompleted when the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake struck and caused it to burn down. It was rebuilt in a baroque Japanese revivalist style, meant to evoke the architectural details of Japanese castles, as well as temples of pre-Edo period. The theater again burned down in the Allied bombing during World War II. It was restored in 1950  preserving the style of 1924 reconstruction, and was until recently one of Tokyo's more dramatic and traditional buildings.
The structure was demolished in spring 2010, with the rebuilding expected to take three years. Reasons cited for the reconstruction include concerns over the building's ability to survive earthquakes, as well as accessibility issues. A series of farewell performances, entitled Kabuki-za Sayonara Kōen (歌舞伎座さよなら公演 lit. "Kabuki-za Farewell Performances"?) were held from January through April 2010, after which kabuki performances took place at the nearby Shinbashi Enbujō and elsewhere until the opening of the new theatre complex, which took place on March 28, 2013.
The Kabuki-za was originally opened by a Meiji era journalist, Fukuchi Gen'ichirō. Fukuchi wrote kabuki dramas in which Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and others starred; upon Danjūrō's death in 1903, Fukuchi retired from the management of the theatre. The theatre was then taken over by the Shochiku Corporation in 1914; the theatre is exclusively run by the company since.
The Kabuki-za Theatrical Corporation (TYO: 9661) was listed in 1924. As a corporation, the company's business mostly depends on the management fee and leasing fee income of the theatre building to Shochiku, and provisioning of catering service on site. The land itself on which the theatre stands is owned by Shochiku.
Performances were exclusively run by Shochiku. They were held nearly every day, and tickets were sold for individual acts as well as for each play in its entirety. As is the case for most kabuki venues, programs were organized monthly: each month there was a given set of plays and dances that made up the afternoon performance, and a different set comprising the evening show. These were repeated on a nearly daily schedule for three to four weeks, with the new month bringing a new program.
It is not yet known if the new theatre will follow the same pattern.
- National Diet Library, "The Meiji and Taisho Eras in Photographs" on-line exhibit (2007)
- Kawajiri, Seitan. "Column: Theatre in Kobiki-cho (木挽町の芝居)" (in Japanese). Kabuki-za Official Homepage. Retrieved 2009-04-11.[dead link]
- "On the Preservation of Kabuki-za - A Request Letter to Chuō-ku Office (歌舞伎座の保存に関する要望書)" (PDF) (in Japanese). Architectural Institute of Japan. 2006-04-18. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- " Kabuki-za to be rebuilt from 2010." Yomiuri Shimbun. 26 October 2008. Accessed 28 October 2008.
- Yoshida, Reiji. "Kabuki mecca's days numbered." The Japan Times. 23 October 2008. Accessed 28 October 2008.
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