Must-see entertainment in Japan

  • Tokyo, JAPAN - January 18, 2014: Kabuki-za (Kabukiza Theater) in Ginza is the principal theater in Tokyo for the traditional kabuki drama form. ; Shutterstock ID 1441778489; full: 65050; gl: Online Editorial; netsuite: Best things to do in Tokyo; your: Bailey Freeman


    Ginza & Tsukiji

    The flamboyant facade of this venerable theatre is fitting for the extravagant dramatic flourishes that are integral to the traditional performing art of…

  • Shinjuku Pit Inn

    Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    This is Tokyo's best jazz spot: intimate, unpretentious and with an always solid line-up of influential, avant-garde, crossover and up-and-coming…

  • Unit

    Ebisu, Meguro & Around

    This subterranean club stages live music and DJ-hosted events (sometimes staggered on the same night). The solid line-up includes Japanese indie bands,…

  • Namba Bears


    For going on three decades this has been the place to hear underground music live in Osaka. It's a small, bare-concrete, smokey space – well suited to the…

  • OSAKA, JAPAN - AUGUST 11:     'Sonezaki Sinju' is performed at the National Bunraku Theatre on August 11, 2005 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

    National Bunraku Theatre


    The classical performing art most associated with Osaka is bunraku, which makes dramatic use of highly sophisticated puppets. Visiting the theatre is a…

  • TOKYO - JANUARY 20: High rank sumo wrestlers line up with crowd in the Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament January 20, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan.; Shutterstock ID 36619300; Your name (First / Last): Laura Crawford; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Japan page Top Experiences images

    Ryōgoku Kokugikan

    Asakusa & Sumida River

    If you’re in town when a tournament is on, don't miss the chance to catch the big boys of Japanese wrestling in action at the country's largest sumo…

  • Patrons wait for the start of the stage show "Sakura - Japan in the Box" at the Meijiza theater in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Producer Hidemi Fukuhara, former veteran of Merrill Lynch & Co., wants to keep the 20 million annual visitors to Japan amused. His vision: Tokyos own pop-infused, multi-color, anime-eyed Broadway. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Culture, East Asian, Musical, Entertainment, Stage, Arts, Performance, Show

    National Theatre

    Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    Japan's most important theatre for traditional performing arts stages kabuki, gagaku (music of the imperial court), kyōmai (Kyoto-style traditional dance)…

  • TOKYO, JAPAN - November 15, 2019: Tokyo Dome: Tokyo Dome is a stadium in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. It has a maximum total capacity of 55,000. World Baseball Softball Confederation(WBSC Premier12); Shutterstock ID 1622269975; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

    Tokyo Dome

    Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Tokyo Dome (aka ‘The Big Egg’) is home to the Yomiuri Giants. They're the most consistently successful team in Japanese baseball.

  • Geisha and maiko performance


    Southern Higashiyama

    This theatre in Gion is the oldest kabuki theatre in Japan. The major event of the year is the Kaomise festival in December, which features Japan’s finest…

  • Miyako Odori

    Southern Higashiyama

    This 45-minute dance is a wonderful geisha performance. It’s a real stunner and the colourful images are mesmerising. It’s held throughout April, usually…

  • Taku-Taku

    Downtown Kyoto

    One of Kyoto’s most atmospheric live-music venues, with a long history of hosting some great local and international acts. Check the Kyoto Visitor's Guide…

  • Kyō Odori

    Southern Higashiyama

    Put on by the Miyagawa-chō geisha district, this wonderful geisha dance is among the most picturesque performances of the Kyoto year. It’s held from the…

  • Kyūshū Bashō Sumo Tournament


    Held for two weeks at the Fukuoka Kokusai Centre. The main ticket sale is in October, and spectators start lining up at dawn for limited same-day tickets …

  • Gion Odori

    Southern Higashiyama

    This is a quaint and charming geisha dance put on by the geisha of the Gion Higashi geisha district. It’s held from 1 to 10 November at the Gion Kaikan…

  • Posters outside the New National Theatre, Shinjuku & Ikebukuro

    New National Theatre

    Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    This is Tokyo’s premier public performing-arts centre, with state-of-the-art stages for drama, opera and dance. The plays are in Japanese and the operas…

  • Sumo wrestlers  in Osaka; Japan

    Sumo Spring Tournament


    The big fellas rumble into Osaka in March for this major tournament, held in the EDION Arena (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (府立体育会館) in Namba. Tickets (from…

  • Tokyo Bunka Kaikan

    Ueno & Yanesen

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Ballet both make regular appearances at this Ueno-kōen landmark, designed by Maekawa Kunio, an…

  • Robot Restaurant

    Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    This Kabukichō spectacle has hit it big with its vision of 'wacky Japan': bikini-clad women ride around on giant robots against a backdrop of animated…

  • Suigian


    This chic lounge stages short acts (40 minutes) of traditional Japanese performing arts, including nō, kagura (sacred dance) and Kyo-mai (Kyoto-style…

  • Sapporo Dome


    Built for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Sapporo Dome is home to both baseball's Hokkaidō Nippon Ham Fighters ( and J-League soccer's…

  • Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium


    This stadium is a good place to catch a baseball game and see the beloved local team, the Carp. It's a short walk southeast of Hiroshima Station – follow…

  • Kyoto Cuisine & Maiko Evening

    Southern Higashiyama

    If you want to witness geisha perform and then actually speak with them, one of the best opportunities is at Gion Hatanaka, a Gion ryokan that offers a…

  • Arashio Stable


    Sumo wrestlers live and practice in a heya (somewhat weirdly translated as 'stable'). Only some allow visitors to watch keiko (practice) and then…

  • Jingū Baseball Stadium

    Harajuku & Aoyama

    Jingū Baseball Stadium, built in 1926, is home to the Yakult Swallows, Tokyo’s number-two team (but number-one when it comes to fan loyalty; Swallows fans…

  • UFO Club


    Named for the infamous 1960s London spot, Kōenji's UFO Club is committed to keeping the spirit of the era alive: the small basement space, with red-and…

  • P.A.R.M.S

    Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    The girl group Kamen Joshi – singing and dancing young women wearing cute outfits and full-face hockey masks – is all the rage at this live-music show in…

  • Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre

    Ginza & Tsukiji

    If you love camp, this is for you. The all-female Takarazuka revue, going back to 1914, stages highly stylised musicals in Japanese (English synopses are…

  • Nippon Budōkan


    The 14,000-plus-seat Budōkan was originally built for the judo competition of the 1964 Olympics (budō means 'martial arts') and will be pressed into…

  • Kazunoya Oiwake

    Asakusa & Sumida River

    Oiwake is one of Tokyo's few remaining minyō izakaya, pubs where traditional folk music is performed. It's a small, cosy place, where the waitstaff and…

  • Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills

    Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    One of Tokyo's nicest and biggest cinemas (it has nine screens, some with 3D and 4D capability), Toho's Roppongi Hills theatre screens all the latest…

  • AKB48 Theatre

    Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Not as red-hot as they once were, this J-pop phenomenon girl group of 60 rotating members continues to perform in shifts at its very own workhouse…er…

  • Uplink

    Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    Watching indies here feels a bit like hanging out in a friend's basement; with just 40 comfy, mismatched seats, Uplink is officially Tokyo's smallest…

  • National Nō Theatre

    Harajuku & Aoyama

    This is Japan's only national theatre devoted to nō, a centuries' old mode of performing arts. It has a classically elegant, sparse cypress stage;…

  • Lady Jane

    Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    Billing itself as 'Booze & Jazz since 1975', Lady Jane is a Shimo-Kitazawa landmark, with a polished, vintage interior of dark wood and moody lighting. On…

  • Maiko Dinner Show Yasakadori Enraku

    Southern Higashiyama

    Traditional restaurant Yasadori Enraku started hosting intimate maiko (apprentice geisha) performances in early 2017. Guests are seated on tatami-mat…

  • Setagaya Public Theatre

    Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    Setagaya Public Theatre, comprising a main stage and the smaller, more experimental Theatre Tram, is the city's top venue for contemporary drama and dance…

  • Plan B


    Underground venue for avant-garde performances, often dance, including butō (a Japanese form of contemporary dance). Shows are irregular. Book tickets…

  • Crocodile

    Harajuku & Aoyama

    Decked out in neon, mirrors and chrome, Crocodile is a classic dive. Live music of all sorts plays here nightly (from rock to reggae to Latin), but the…

  • WWW

    Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    In a former art-house cinema with the tell-tale tiered floor (but not the seats) still intact, this is one of those rare venues where you could turn up…

  • Club Quattro

    Shibuya & Shimo-Kitazawa

    This small venue attracts a more grown-up, artsy crowd than the club’s location – in the heart of Shibuya – might lead you to expect. There’s no explicit…

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