Kabuki-za Theatre Closes

Tokyo’s Kabuki-za theatre, the main Kabuki venue in Japan for more than a century, held its last performance on April 30. The venue will be demolished and replaced with an office building.

The final presentation included two dance programs performed by 13 of Kabuki’s most celebrated actors, including premier onna-gata (female-role specialist) Bando Tamasaburo.

Afterwards, three actors who also are designated “national treasures” delivered speeches announcing the theatre’s closure in stylized Kabuki form.

Almost all the major Kabuki actors then lined up on the stage and performed a traditional hand-clapping to end the ceremony.
The event was sold out months ago and 300 people had formed a line hours before the doors opened to buy the walkup tickets that always go on sale shortly before any performance.

The original Kabuki-za opened in 1889 but was destroyed during World War II.

The current structure, which opened in 1951, is considered superannuated but is nevertheless also designated a national treasure.

Construction of the new building, which includes a new theatre, will begin in October. It is set for completion in March 2013.