Kabuki-za, Tokyo's premier kabuki theater
4-12-15 Ginza, Chūō-ku
|Owner||Kabuki-za Theatrical Corporation|
|Opened||21 November 1889|
|Rebuilt||1911, Tashichi Kashiwagi
1924, Shinichirō Okata
1950, Isoya Yoshida
2013, Kengo Kuma
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 building was destroyed on October 30, 1921, by an electrical fire. The reconstruction, which commenced in 1922, was designed to "be fireproof, yet carry traditional Japanese architectural styles", while using Western building materials and lighting equipment. Reconstruction had not been completed when it again burned down during the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. Rebuilding was finally completed in 1924.
The theater was destroyed once again by 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 1950 structure was demolished in the spring of 2010, and rebuilt over the ensuing 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 style in 1924 was in a baroque Japanese revivalist style, meant to evoke the architectural details of Japanese castles, as well as temples of pre-Edo period. This style was kept after the post-war reconstruction and again after the 2013 reconstruction.
Inside, with the latest reconstruction the theatre was outfitted with four new front curtains called doncho. These are by renowned Japanese artists in the Nihonga style and reflect the different seasons.
Performances are exclusively run by Shochiku. They are nearly every day, and tickets are sold for individual acts as well as for each play in its entirety. As is the case for most kabuki venues, programs are organized monthly: each month there is given set of plays and dances that make up the afternoon performance, and a different set comprising the evening show. These are repeated on a nearly daily schedule for three to four weeks, with the new month bringing a new program.
- 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]
- Murakami, Shūzō (2006-04-18). 歌舞伎座の保存に関する要望書 [On the Preservation of Kabuki-za - A Request Letter to Chuō-ku Office] (PDF) (in Japanese). Architectural Institute of Japan. 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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