English Top  > Performance Schedule  > National Theatre  > 2021  > Discover KABUKI

National Theatre

Discover KABUKI 2021

Tuesday, July 27 1:30 pm-3:30 pm 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
*End times are estimates and could vary.
Buy ticketsBOX OFFICE 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 “Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura”(Yoshitsune and the Thousand cherry Trees)

    This performance introduces a classic work that depicts a touching exchange between a human and an animal. It has long been popular as a Kabuki masterpiece.

Multi-Language Services
A free audio guide in English or Japanese is available for this program,
along with English subtitles and a free multilingual booklet (in English,
Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French and Japanese)
that includes the highlights and outline of the story.

What's KABUKI?

 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
  • Arashi
  • Ichikawa
  • Satō Tadanobu/Genkurō GitsuneNakamura Matagorō
  • Suruga no JirōNakamura Matsue
  • Kamei no RokurōNakamura Tanenosuke
  • Kawatsura Hōgen’s wife AsukaNakamura Baika
  • Kawatsura HōgenArashi Kitsusaburō
  • Minamoto no YoshitsuneNakamura Kashō
  • Shizuka GozenIchikawa Komazō


  • Nakamura
  • Kisa

Story of Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura(Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)

Watch and discover an unexpected secret behind the shoulder drum…

The play is part of a work based on the legend of Minamoto no Yoshitsune’s wandering journey in flight from pursuers sent by his older brother Yoritomo. The original play, consisting of five acts, was first performed as Ningyō Jōruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater). The following year, it was adapted as a Kabuki performance, and has since become a popular program. For this occasion, the National Theatre presents “Kawatsura Hōgen Yakata” (The Mansion of Kawatsura Hōgen) from Act Four, a well-known scene frequently performed as a stand-alone performance.

 Expelled from Kyoto, Yoshitsune seeks refuge at the residence of the monk Kawatsura Hōgen on Mt. Yoshino. He receives a visit from his retainer Satō Tadanobu, whom he had entrusted with the care of his love Shizuka Gozen. When asked about Shizuka Gozen, Tadanobu says he’s gone to his homeland and he does not remember being entrusted with her. Soon after she arrives, Shizuka Gozen finds Tadanobu’s actions suspicious because they are different than usual for Tadanobu, with whom she had just parted. Furthermore, she tells Yoshitsune about Tadanobu’s frequent disappearances during the journey and his subsequent returns when she is playing on the shoulder drum “Hatsune no Tsuzumi,” which Yoshitsune had entrusted to her. Trying to solve these mysterious incidents, Yoshitsune asks Shizuka Gozen to play the drum, whereupon the “other” Tadanobu appears and reveals his true identity as a fox called Genkurō Gitsune, and he then reveals a secret behind the shoulder drum with regard to his parent foxes.

 Playing the main character Genkurō Gitsune requires a unique manner of speaking called kitsune-kotoba or “fox talk,” as well as athletic physical movements. It also is produced with ingenious devices, such as instant costume changes and sets designed so that characters can appear from unexpected places. These techniques are unique to Kabuki and serve to enhance the expression of Genkurō Gitsune’s feelings. Set during a time of wars in which one has to quarrel with one’s flesh and blood, it depicts the universal love between parent and child through the viewpoint of an animal, the fox.

 With a renowned cast that includes Nakamura Matagorō, who over the years has won popularity in the dual role of the wise and courageous retainer Satō Tadanobu and the fox Genkurō Gitsune, and Ichikawa Komazō as Shizuka Gozen, you are sure to enjoy this touching performance in which fantasy unfolds.

See more

Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura
Instant Info


Online & Telephone Booking
from Sunday, June 13, 2021 10:00 am
Box Office sale
from Monday, June 14, 2021 10:00 am
Students All seats 1,600 yen | Adults 1st Grade 4,100 yen 2nd Grade 1,800 yen (including tax) 20% discount for the guests with disabilities
Buy Tickets
Box Office

OPEN 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

0570-07-9900 (Domestic Call Only)

03-3230-3000 (IP phone)


National Theatre (Tokyo)

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

Telephone : 03-3265-7411

View the map