- 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.
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 accessibility for the handicapped. A modern steel-and-glass skyscraper structure will be built atop the Meiji-style theatre, to house the offices of the Shôchiku corporation.
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 southwest-facing facade resembles two towers, flanking the entrance, which is topped with a wide kara-hafu gable.
After its reopening in 2013, the new Kabuki-za will connect more directly into Higashi-Ginza subway station, with an underground basement lobby. The floor directly above the theatre will include an international culture center (kokusai bunka kôryû sentaa), gallery space, with the office tower above it; a rooftop Japanese garden directly above the theatre will be situated in front of the tower. The northwest side of the building (facing Shôwa-dôri) will become the main entrance for the office tower, while on the southeast side of the building, along Kobikichô-dôri, there are plans to create a more active, pleasant walking/shopping space. While this side of the building will replicate the Meiji era architectural style of previous incarnations of the Kabuki-za, as a continuation of the main facade, this will not be visible from the northwest side, which will be a continuation down to the street level of the steel-and-glass office tower.
- "Kabuki-za." Kabuki21.com.