Nihon Buyo at the National Theatre of Japan

We recently attended a Nihon Buyo performance at the National Theatre of Japan in Hayabusa, Tokyo, conveniently located by subway access, 5 minutes walk from the Hanzomon subway station.

Nihon Buyo 1 Nihon Buyo 2

Opened in 1966, the National Theatre of Japan consists of 2 theaters, with the large one with seating of 1,610 and the small theater with 590 seats.  Below are pictures of the Large Theater lobby.

Nihon Buyo 3 Nihon Buyo 4

Nihon Buyo performances last between 15 to 60 minutes in duration, with about a 5 minute intermission between performances.  There are no reserved seating and most people go in and out of the theater during the intermissions.  Below are pictures I took during one of the intermissions – obviously no pictures or video are allowed during the performances.

Nihon Buyo 9 Nihon Buyo 10

Nihon Buyo is a traditional Japanese dance – the others are Kabuki (which is probably the most well known), Noh Mai and Bon Odori.  The Japanese Dance Association Inc defines Nihon Buyo as:

Nihon buyo is Japanese dance. However, unlike forms of Japanese art more closely associated with daily life (Shinto ritual kagura, local art transmitted across generations, bon folk dances, minyo folk songs, for example), nihon buyo is an independent performing art intended for the stage.

Embodying elements of performing arts which originated earlier, such as “bugaku” (ceremonial performance of the Imperial Court whose origins are traced to India and Central Asia) and “nohgaku” (noh theatre and its origins), and incorporating the refined essence of a range of folk arts, nihon buyo can be described as a “treasury” of Japanese art from ancient to modern times.

Over a history of nearly four centuries, nihon buyo acquired its many faces, represented today in kabuki buyo based in the kabuki theatre, kamigata mai and kyo mai traditionally performed in more compact, tatami-matted zashiki spaces, and sosaku buyo or creative, original dancing.

We attended a specific performance by my wife’s friend’s friend, who was kind enough to invite us.  After the performance, we had the privilege to go backstage and met her.  Backstage, she was interviewed by the Voice of America because she was originally born in Taiwan, it is very unusual for performance to be non-native Japanese.

Nihon Buyo 5 Nihon Buyo 6

Below are pictures of an empty 12 mat tatami dressing room.

Nihon Buyo 7 Nihon Buyo 8

Finally, a picture of the ticket, programme and some gifts we received from the performer (seems backwards, we should be the ones giving the gifts, not the performer).  It was a unique experience watching Nihon Buyo and we had a great time at the show.

Nihon Buyo 11


5 thoughts on “Nihon Buyo at the National Theatre of Japan

  1. Pingback: Zojoji Bon Odori Matsuri « Konnichiwa

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