Renovated Kabukiza reopens in Ginza district

The Kabukiza theater, spiritual home of the 410-year-old performing art, reopened Tuesday in Ginza, Tokyo, after a three-year hiatus following extensive renovation work.

As part of the “kokera otoshi” series of performances to commemorate the grand opening, both veteran and young actors will perform onstage during the new theater’s first shows. They will run until next March.

A drum ceremony was held in front of the theater to mark the formal opening. Afterward, a three-part program featuring a special dance to mark the event was performed by several actors, including Sakata Tojuro, recognized by the government as a living national treasure. The performance drew cheers and applause from an audience of 2,000.

The theater underwent its fifth makeover after being closed for renovations in 2010. It was first constructed in 1889 and was rebuilt due to a number of reasons, including fire and damage during World War II. The previous theater was built in 1951.

The new Kabukiza, which has a normal seating capacity of about 1,900, features an upgraded audio system, including English translation, and stage equipment, as well as customer-friendly services such as barrier-free access and lavatories for disabled people.

The theater will provide explanatory notes about the plays in Japanese on liquid crystal panels that can be taken to seats. A 29-floor office building is incorporated into the new complex.

The reconstructed Ginza landmark reopens as the kabuki world deals with the loss of two iconic figures — Nakamura Kanzaburo, who died in December at age 57, and Ichikawa Danjuro, who died in February at 66.