Tokyo Performing Arts

Tokyo's rich cultural history entwines itself with an influx of foreign influences, so Tokyoites get the best of both worlds. An astonishing variety of dance and music, both classical and popular and much of it Western, can be found in Tokyo, alongside the must-see traditional Japanese arts of Kabuki and Noh.

The city is a proving ground for local talent and a magnet for orchestras and concert

soloists from all over the world. Tokyo also has modern theater—in somewhat limited choices, to be sure, unless you can follow dialogue in Japanese, but Western repertory companies can always find receptive audiences here for plays in English. And it doesn't take long for a hit show from New York or London to open. Musicals such as Mamma Mia! have found enormous popularity here—although the protagonists speak Japanese.

Among about 10 professional dance troupes in Japan, the best known are the New National Ballet, which usually performs at the New National Theater, and the K-Ballet Company and the Tokyo Ballet, both of which stage performances at the Bunka Kaikan in Ueno and Orchard Hall of the Bunkamura complex in Shibuya. Tokyo has plenty of venues for opera, and few groups to perform in them, so touring companies like the Metropolitan, the Bolshoi, Sadler's Wells, and the Bayerische Staatsoper find Tokyo a very compelling venue—as well they might when even seats at ¥30,000 or more sell out far in advance.

Tokyo movie theaters screen a broad range of films—everything from big Asian hits to American blockbusters and Oscar nominees. The diversity brought by smaller distributors and an increased appetite for Korean, Middle Eastern, South American, and Aussie cinema have helped develop vibrant small theaters that cater to art-house fans. New multiplexes have also brought new screens to the capital, providing a more comfortable film-going experience than some of the older Japanese theaters.

Metropolis, a free English-language weekly magazine, and Weekend Scene, published for free by The Japan Times on Friday, have up-to-date listings of what's going on in the city; they are available at hotels, book and music stores, some restaurants and cafés, and other locations. The Japan News also has entertainment features and listings in the Friday edition.

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Tokyo Performing Arts

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Akasaka Blitz

Eclectic performances at this artsy music venue range from Japanese rock to Korean and Japanese pop to visual-kei (visual-style) groups,...

Asagaya Jazz Street Festival

Held the last weekend of October, this predominantly mainstream festival takes places in some less-than-mainstream venues, ranging from...


This complex has two movie theaters that tend to screen French and foreign films; a concert, opera, and classic ballet auditorium (Orchard...

Bunkyo Civic Hall

This three-story, city-run performance hall showcases classical music and ballet, opera, dance, and drama. Visitors might be especially...


One of the best venues for art-house films in Japan screens independent European and Asian hits and small-scale Japanese movies. Directors...


This legendary theater opened in 1889 was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1923, air raids in 1945, and again a few years ago. The new...

Kanze Noh-gakudo

This is among the most important of the Noh family schools in Japan, and the current iemoto (head) of the school is the 26th in his...

Kioi Hall

Behind Hotel New Otani stands this relatively small concert venue, which showcases both performances of Western classical music, such...

NHK Hall

The home base for the Japan Broadcasting Corporation's NHK Symphony Orchestra, known as N-Kyo, is probably the auditorium most familiar...

National Noh Theater

One of the few public halls to host Noh performances, this theater provides basic English-language summaries of the plots at performances.


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