Kabuki in Kyoto

The full moon
seven story-songs of a woman
turning towards the sea

Minamiza Theatre

This theater is presently closed. Check Official site below for more information.

Kabuki is a popular form of traditional Japanese dramatic theater that is performed exclusively by men, featuring colorful costumes, beautiful stage sets and exciting dance and music. The origin of Kabuki began in Kyoto in 1603, when Okuni, a female Shinto shrine maiden of Izumo Taisha Shrine in Shimane Prefecture, started performing a new style of dance drama on the dry river beds of Kamo River. At that time, female performers played both male and female roles, and Kabuki quickly became a popular form of entertainment. However, it was too risqué for the Tokugawa shogunate, which banned women from the stage in 1629.

Since then, male actors took over the Kabuki tradition. Audiences are often amazed by the remarkable grace of the onnagata, male actors who play women’s roles. Another unique aspect of Kabuki is the long, narrow extension of the stage that runs through the center of the audience, all the way to the rear of the theatre. This is called ”Hanamichi” (literally, “Flower Passage”) which enables actors to come into closer contact with the audience.

Official Kabuki Website: https://www.kabukiweb.net/

This is the official website for Kabuki in Kyoto: http://www.kabuki-bito.jp/eng/contents/theatre/kyoto_minamiza.html

Synopses for the plays in English: http://enmokudb.kabuki.ne.jp/en

Kaomise is a special Kabuki performance has been held at the Minamiza Theatre in Kyoto, staged every year from the end of November to December 25th. Literally, ”showing the faces,” the name originally referred to November and December performances in Kabuki theatres all over Japan, during which actors who signed contracts for the next year made their first appearance. Nowadays, when only a handful of Kabuki theaters and few Kaomise performances exist, the Kyoto one is the largest Kaomise with the longest history which gathers top actors from both the Tokyo and Kansai areas.

The theater is now under restoration. I will update when it opens once again.

In 2016 , for the first time ever, Kaomise was performed at the Pontocho Kaburenjo Threatre, in one of the five Kagai (geiko/maiko districts) of Kyoto.

You might check here for more information:

Tickets *Same price for part 1, 2, 3 (tax incl.)
First Class: 16,500 yen
First Class (B): 14,500 yen
Second Class : 10,000 yen
Third Class: 7,500 yen

Ticket Purchase
Online (English): http://www1.ticket-web-shochiku.com/en/
Telephone: Ticket Phone Shochiku: 0570-000-489
November 30 Wed. – December 25 Sun.
*Tickets are also available at the Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre’s Box Office (10:00-18:00; Closed 17:00 before Nov. 29).
*Ticket returns, exchanges and refunds are not accepted after purchase.


One of the five Kagai that is still active. This very narrow lane runs from north to south between Sanjo and Shijo streets, on the west side of the Kamo River. The origin of Pontocho is said to have started around 1712. Since Pontocho was located near both main traffic arteries -the Takasegawa Canal and the Tokaido Highway- it drew many business people and tourists. Some accommodations and shops began to hire girls (later, geiko and maiko) to welcome and entertain these guests, and for over 300 years, Pontocho has developed as a Kagai.

Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre

The Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre is the home of the geiko and maiko of Pontocho. It hosts many shows by geiko and maiko, including gorgeous annual dance performances (Kamogawa Odori in spring, and Suimeikai in autumn). While the exterior of the building looks modern and Western, the interior is classically Japanese. This combination of Western and traditional Japanese architectural styles exudes a romantically retro atmosphere. The compact theatre has only 540 seats, which promises to transmit electric energy directly from the Kabuki actors to the audience.