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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  • 1. Akasaka Blitz

    Akasaka | Music

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

  • 2. Asagaya Jazz Street Festival

    Greater Tokyo | Festivals

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

  • 3. Bunkamura

    Shibuya-ku | Film

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

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  • 4. Bunkyo Civic Hall

    Bunkyo-ku | Music

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

  • 5. Eurospace

    Shibuya-ku | Film

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

  • 6. Kanze Noh-gakudo

    Ginza | Theater

    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 line....Read More

  • 7. Kioi Hall

    Akasaka | Music

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

  • 8. National Noh Theater

    Shibuya-ku | Theater

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

  • 9. New National Theater and Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall

    Shinjuku-ku | Music

    With its 1,632-seat main auditorium, this venue nourishes Japan's fledgling efforts to make a name for itself in the world of opera. The Opera...Read More

  • 10. NHK Hall

    Shibuya-ku | Music

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

  • 11. Shimbashi Enbujo

    Ginza | Theater

    Dating to 1925, this theater was built for the geisha of the Shimbashi quarter to present their spring and autumn performances of traditional...Read More

  • 12. Suigian

    Nihombashi | Theater

    The Suigan dinner theater and lounge offers a taste of traditional Japanese noh and kyogen plays and geisha performances over a light meal or...Read More

  • 13. Sumida Triphony Hall


    Home to New Japan Philharmonic, the venue is mostly for Western classical music, chamber music, and piano recitals. It has many programs by...Read More

  • 14. Suntory Hall

    Roppongi | Music

    This lavishly appointed concert auditorium in the Ark Hills complex has probably the best acoustics in the city, and its great location allows...Read More

  • 15. Takarazuka

    Chiyoda-ku | Theater

    Japan's all-female theater troupe was founded in the Osaka suburb of Takarazuka in 1913 and has been going strong ever since. Today it has not...Read More

  • 16. Ticket Pia


    If your hotel can't help you with concert and performance bookings, call Ticket Pia or visit their shops around Tokyo, including two at Narita...Read More

  • 17. Toho Cinemas Hibiya

    Ginza | Film

    With a design that evokes images of the golden days of film, Toho's premier "movie palace" attempts to bring back the days when moviegoing was...Read More

  • 18. Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills

    Roppongi | Film

    This complex provides good comfort along with its nine screens, and about 2,100 seats that include "first-class" VIP seats. It also has an extra...Read More

  • 19. Tokyo Bunka Kaikan

    Taito-ku | Music

    In the 1960s and ’70s this hall was one of the city's premier showcases for classical ballet, orchestral music, and visiting soloists. It still...Read More

  • 20. Tokyo Dome

    Chiyoda-ku | Amusement Parks

    A 45,852-seat sports arena, the dome also hosts big-name Japanese pop acts as well as the occasional international star. ...Read More

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