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Kabuki-za

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Kabuki-za as it appeared prior to its 2010-2013 reconstruction, New Year's 2008.
  • Built: 1889
  • Japanese: 歌舞伎座 (kabuki-za)

Kabuki-za, located in the Ginza in Tokyo, is the chief kabuki theatre in Japan. Throughout its existence, since its establishment in 1889, it has been the chief site for revivals, premieres, shûmei (name-taking) celebrations, New Year's performances, and other major events in the modern history of kabuki. Destroyed four times, it has always been rebuilt in a fashion faithful to its original, Meiji period appearance.

History

Kabuki-za first opened on 21 November 1889.

The theatre was destroyed in an electrical fire in 1921, in the 1923 Great Kantô Earthquake, and again in the 1945 Allied bombing of Tokyo, but was rebuilt each time, the last time in concrete, reopening in January 1951. The theatre was torn down intentionally for the first time in 2010, after closing that April, with plans to reopen in April 2013. The newly reconstructed Kabuki-za, it is said, will retain much of its former appearance, at least on the outside, but will be more modernized in terms of its earthquake protection, and a slight reorganization of the audience seating. A modern steel-and-glass skyscraper structure will be built atop the Meiji-style theatre, to house the offices of the Shôchiku corporation.

Structure

The structure itself is, in its unique way, very typical of Meiji period architecture, incorporating many elements of Western architectural styles, while drawing upon traditional Japanese motifs. The architectural style draws not upon kabuki theatres of the Edo period, built chiefly in wood, but rather upon castle architecture of the Azuchi-Momoyama or Edo periods. The facade resembles two towers, flanking the entrance, which is topped with a wide kara-hafu gable.

References

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