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Japan Arts Council

Discover KABUKI|KABUKI for Beginners

Monday,17th December 7:00 pm (scheduled to end at 9:25 pm)
Monday,17th December 7:00 pm (scheduled to end at 9:25 pm)
Buy tickets
0570-07-9900 (Domestic Call Only)|03-3230-3000 (IP phone)
'What's Kabuki'


In this performance “Discover KABUKI”, popular Kabuki pieces will be performed by the fine Kabuki actors for much wider audience to casually experience the fascinating world of Kabuki, which has a history of 400 years. “Discover KABUKI” consists of two parts to guide you to the world of KABUKI.

  1. KABUKI Guidance “How to Appreciate KABUKI in English”

     A Kabuki actor and a TV personality will guide you “how to appreciate Kabuki” both in English and Japanese.

  2. Experience the live performance of Kabuki “Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi” (Miracle at Yaguchi Ferry)”

     This is a piece written by Hiraga Gennai, a unique scientist flourished in the mid-Edo period, under the pen name Fukuchi Kigai. It was premiered in January 1770 as a Jōruri puppet show. Themed on “Taiheiki” (The Record of the Great Peace), a war chronicle on the disturbances in the Northern and Southern Courts in which two rival factions in the Imperial Court competed for power after the fall of the Kamakura Shogunate, the piece introduces the origin of Nitta Shrine (Ota-ku, Tokyo). The program Tonbē Sumika is set in Yaguchi no Watashi (Yaguchi Ferry) of the Tama River, depicting a dramatic incident between a brutal father and his daughter who tries to protect her beloved one at the risk of her life, and it has been frequently performed in the past.
     Nakamura Ganjirō and his son Kazutarō play the role of Tonbē and Ofune respectively for the first time in this piece. The story full of dramatic twists and turns makes it an excellent piece even for Kabuki beginners to enjoy and understand easily.


English, Chinese(Mandarin), Korean, Spanish, French and Japanese at the theatre:Free!

Enjoy with English subtitles above the stage.


 Kabuki came into existence around 1603 with the arrival in Kyoto of a troupe of dancing girls led by a certain Izumo-no-Okuni, formerly a shrine maiden. Their dances created a sensation and were labelled "Kabuki" which, at that time, meant "unorthodox" or "eccentric". Such troupes of women were subsequently banned as were those of the dancing boys that took their place. They were succeeded by groups of adult men whose performances developed into Kabuki as it now exists. In the process, the original meaning of the word kabuki changed to become Ka(Song), Bu(Dance), Ki(Technique or Skill).

 Kabuki originally consisted of short dances but the repertoire now is huge and is made up of both plays and dances, most of which date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Originally the principal entertainment of the urban merchant classes, Kabuki is the traditional, popular theater of Japan and continues to flourish and draw large audiences. Kabuki is also attracting increasing attention abroad and is now regarded as one of the world's great theatrical arts, remarkable for its vigour.

Invitation to KABUKI


  • Nakamura
  • Nakamura
  • Nakamura
  • Nakamura
  • Nakamura
  • Watashimori TonbēNakamura Ganjirō
  • Musume OfuneNakamura Kazutarō
  • Sendō HachisukeNakamura Jūjirō
  • Keisei UtenaKamimura Kichitarō
  • Nitta YoshimineNakamura Toranosuke
  • Genan RokuzōNakamura Kikaku
and others


  • Nakamura
  • Kisa

Story of Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi(Miracle at Yaguchi Ferry)(Miracle at Yaguchi Ferry)

The piece is written by Hiraga Gennai, a person of talent in the Edo period.
A tragic love story depicting a young woman who risks her life to protect a loved one from her brutal father!
What turn of fate may be awaiting father and daughter…?
You can’t take your eyes off of a dramatic storyline until the end!

 Nitta Yoshimine, a warlord on the Southern Court side, accompanies his lover courtesan Utena and asks for lodging for one night unexpectedly at the house of Tonbē, a ferryman of Yaguchi no Watashi who murdered his brother Yoshioki. Tonbē’s daughter Ofune, who fell in love with Yoshimine at first sight, invites him into the house. A servant Rokuzō tries to expose Yoshimine’s stay to his master, so Ofune manages to get out of the awkward situation by hinting at the future marriage with Rokuzō. Tonbē, reported from Rokuzō about the situation, comes home and then plunges a sword through from under the floor in an attempt to assassinate Yoshimine. To his utter surprise, though, it was Ofune who screamed with pain. Ofune, while she let the couple get away before it, tries to persuade Tonbē to change his mind, enduring the pain. But he thrusts her away and runs after Yoshimine. In order to let Yoshimine escape, Ofune beats a drum as a signal to raise the siege of the villages, struggling against Rokuzō. Then, an arrow comes flying towards Tonbē from nowhere…

 The first half of the program features the lovable gestures of Ofune who is attracted to Yoshimine, and her “kudoki” (an oral recitation passage) performed along with Gidayu-bushi, expressing her predicament being caught in dilemma between filial piety towards father and her affection towards Yoshimine. The second half unfolds in a series of highlight scenes by Tonbē from just after his appearance. Tonbē exits through the hanamichi making a sound with the sword guard by a unique technique called “kumode takoashi,” moving hands like a spider and legs like an octopus. Tonbē’s egregious wickedness adds to the heroine Ofune’s

tragic nature. As for the scene in which wounded Ofune decides to beat a drum out of fear for Yoshimine’s safety, today’s program adopts “ningyō-buri” technique, a way of acting which mimics the movement of puppets in Ningyō Jōruri, thus Ofune’s emotional upsurge is expressed in a skillful manner.

See more

Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi
Instant Info

Tickets Now on Sale!

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from Monday. 6th May 2019 10:00 am(GMT +8:00)
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from Tuesday. 7th May 2019 10:00 am(GMT +8:00)
Student 1,500yen (including tax)4,000yen / Student 1,500yen (including tax)
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0570-07-9900 (Domestic Call Only)

03-3230-3000 (IP phone)

Kabuki Workshop for Foreigners

Monday, 17th JUNE 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Let’s experience Kabuki performance and musical instruments at the National Theatre!
Participation fee is free. English interpretation available.
*Those who purchased tickets for Kabuki Performance for Beginners June 2019, including
Discover Kabuki, are eligible to participate.



National Theatre (Tokyo)

4-1 Hayabusa-cho, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo 102-8656

Telephone : 03-3265-7411

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