Entertainment in Japan

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Asakusa & Sumida River

    Ryōgoku Kokugikan

    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 stadium. The main spectacle starts 3.40pm when the makuuchi (top division) wrestlers parade into the ring. Advanced tickets must be purchased through Ticket Oosumo (http://sumo.pia.jp/en), up to five weeks before the start of the tournament.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Ginza & Tsukiji

    Kabukiza

    The flamboyant facade of this venerable theatre is fitting for the extravagant dramatic flourishes that are integral to the traditional performing art of kabuki. Check the website for performance details and to book tickets; you'll also find an explanation about cheaper one-act, day seats.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Southern Higashiyama

    Minamiza

    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 kabuki actors.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Roppongi, Akasaka & Around

    National Theatre

    Japan's most important theatre for traditional performing arts stages kabuki, gagaku (music of the imperial court), kyōmai (Kyoto-style traditional dance), bunraku (classic puppet theatre) and more. Visit the website to see the schedule and purchase tickets. Premium tickets can cost over ¥10,000, while the cheap seats are indeed cheap (from ¥1800); student concessions available.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Shinjuku Pit Inn

    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 musicians from Japan and abroad. If you're already a fan of jazz, you'll want to make a point to visit it; if you're not, Pit Inn is the kind of place that just might win you over.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Ebisu, Meguro & Around

    Unit

    This subterranean club stages live music and DJ-hosted events (sometimes staggered on the same night). The solid line-up includes Japanese indie bands, veterans playing to a smaller crowd and overseas artists making their Japan debut. Unit has high ceilings and an intentionally industrial-cool interior (in addition to excellent sound), separating it from Tokyo's grungier live-music spots. Ticket prices vary.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Kōrakuen & Akihabara

    Tokyo Dome

    Tokyo Dome (aka ‘The Big Egg’) is home to the Yomiuri Giants. Love ’em or hate ’em, they're the most consistently successful team in Japanese baseball. Tickets usually sell out in advance; get them early at www.giants.jp/en/ticket.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Southern Higashiyama

    Miyako Odori

    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 at Gion Kōbu Kaburen-jō Theatre. The building is under ongoing renovations until around 2021 and performances will be held at Minamiza in the meantime.

  • Entertainment in Downtown Kyoto

    Taku-Taku

    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 and flyers in local coffee shops and record stores for details on upcoming events. It can be hard to spot: look for the wooden sign with black kanji on it and go through the gate.

  • Top ChoiceEntertainment in Osaka

    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 punk, rock and indie bands that play here. In keeping with the alternative spirit, you can bring in your own beer. Most shows start at 7pm; tickets usually cost ¥2000 to ¥2500.

  • Entertainment in Southern Higashiyama

    Kyō Odori

    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 first to the third Sunday in April at the Miyagawa-chō Kaburen-jō Theatre (宮川町歌舞練場), east of the Kamo-gawa between Shijō-dōri and Gojō-dōri.

  • Entertainment in Fukuoka

    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 ( tōjitsu-ken; ¥3400 to ¥15,000).

  • Entertainment in Southern Higashiyama

    Gion Odori

    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 Theatre (祇園会館), near Yasaka-jinja.

  • Entertainment in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    New National Theatre

    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 and ballets are usually visiting international productions; however, Japanese contemporary dance performances are staged here a few times a year.

  • Entertainment in Osaka

    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 ¥3800) go on sale in early February and can be purchased online.

  • Entertainment in Ueno & Yanesen

    Tokyo Bunka Kaikan

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Ballet both make regular appearances at this Ueno-kōen landmark, designed by Maekawa Kunio, an apprentice of Le Corbusier. Prices vary wildly; look out for morning classical-music performances that cost just ¥550 to ¥1100. Purchase tickets online or at the box office. The auditorium has cloud-shaped acoustic panels that sound as gorgeous as they look.

  • Entertainment in Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    Robot Restaurant

    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 screens and enough LED lights to illuminate all of Shinjuku. The 90-minute shows are held at 3.30pm, 5.30pm, 7.30pm and 9.30pm. Book online for a ¥1000 discount; discount flyers can often be found at tourist spots.

  • Entertainment in Marunouchi & Nihombashi

    Suigian

    This chic lounge stages short acts (40 minutes) of traditional Japanese performing arts, including nō, kagura (sacred dance) and Kyo-mai (Kyoto-style traditional dance). While likely designed with international visitors in mind, the performers all belong to well-established schools. Shows are held nightly at 7pm (entrance from 5pm) and additionally at 11.15am and 1.45pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

  • Entertainment in Sapporo

    Sapporo Dome

    Built for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Sapporo Dome is home to both baseball's Hokkaidō Nippon Ham Fighters (www.fighters.co.jp) and J-League soccer's Consadole Sapporo (www.consadole-sapporo.jp). The stadium switches surfaces depending on the sport being played: the Fighters play on an artificial surface; when Consadole has a match, a natural grass pitch is slid into the stadium.

  • Entertainment in Hiroshima

    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 the signs and the red-marked pathways.