The best known and most loved by people around the world, the traditional performing art of Kabuki is easily identified by its elaborate make-up and costumes. Rhythmical lines spoken by actors, colourful make-up and a stage full of mechanical devices for special effects are essential characteristics of Kabuki, but the most important is that all the roles, including those of women, are played by male actors.

An introduction to Kabuki

Where to see Kabuki in Japan:
* Kabuki-za - Tokyo
* Kokuritsu Gekijo - Tokyo (National Theatre of Japan)
* Shinbashi Enbu-jo - Tokyo
* Shochiku-za – Osaka
* Minami-za - Kyoto


The highly stylized theatre of Noh exudes the world of yugen, a deeply aesthetic value based on a profound and refined beauty that goes beyond words and concrete shapes. Its origin is in religious ritual and it has a long history of 700 years. Though the actor, dressed in traditional Japanese costume, either wears a mask to hide the expression on his face or performs without expression, his dance is lyrical and graceful. An introduction to Noh & Kyogen.

An introduction to Noh & Kyogen

Where to see Noh:
* National Noh Theatre - Tokyo (Kokuritsu Nohgakudo)


A Bunraku puppet play is a wonderful and heartfelt description of conflicts between established ethical ideas and the reality of love and life and turmoil in the emotions of the common people. It is performed along with jouri (ballad chanting) to the accompaniment of shamisen (a 3-stringed musical instrument).

Bunraku is Puppet Theatre performed by three puppeteers. The movement of the lead puppet is operated by the three puppeteers working in precise cooperation. The Bunraku puppets almost become alive in the eyes of the audience, accompanied by shamisen music, the narration of dialogue and gorgeous costumes, and one can only marvel at the quality of the performance.

An introduction to Bunraku

Where to see Bunraku:
* Bunraku Gekijo Theatre - Osaka