In February this year, 35-year-old Tomohiro Maekawa’s reputation was given a boost when he was nominated in both the best-playwright and best-director categories of the prestigious Yomiuri Theater Awards. Although Maekawa didn’t walk away with an award; the nominations, coming just six years after he founded his Tokyo-based Ikiume (Buried Alive) company, illustrate how this Niigata native’s imaginative plays — commonly featuring aliens, the future, parallel realities and occult powers — are causing a stir in Japan’s contemporary theater scene. Since April, he has had at least one play running in Tokyo.

Maekawa’s latest play, “‘Semaki Mon Yori Haire (Enter Through the Narrow Gate),” a title derived from a passage in the Gospel of St. Matthew of the New Testament (“the wide gate leads to destruction”) opens next week at the Parco Theater in Shibuya, Tokyo. It was written for the Tokyo-based theater group Team Saru (Team Monkey), headed by leading stage and screen actor Kuranosuke Sasaki.

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