The National Noh Theater is the principle theater in Tokyo for viewing Noh and Kyogen, two traditional forms of Japanese theater. It is a must visit for anyone with an interest in the performing arts who happens to find themselves traveling in Tokyo.
Noh theater is a kind of musical drama that has been performed in Japan since the 14th century. It features masked actors who bring to life tales often derived from classical Japanese literature. The content of Noh plays is often serious and somber, especially when compared to the more comedic Kyogen. Throughout history, the two genres of performance have often been paired together and packed into long days of Nogaku entertainment. That experience is replicated each day at the National Noh Theater. Why not go and check it out for yourself?
Ticket prices vary from 1,500 to 2,000 yen depending on the desired seat (1st Grade, 2nd Grade). Visitors who need the wheelchair accessible space need to contact the theater in advance at [email protected].
The National Noh Theater is a five-minute walk from Sendagaya Station (Chuo/Sobu Lines) and Kokuritsu Kyogijo Station (Oedo Line). It can also be accessed via a seven-minute walk from Kita-Sando Station (Fukutoshin Line). All of the stations are accessible.
The National Noh Theater was built in 1983, and despite its architecture style, which imitates Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, the theater has many accessibility features. From accessible parking outside to benches and rest areas inside, the theater is designed to accommodate individuals with many different kinds of bodies and minds.
The building features multiple wheelchair accessible entrances, although the main entrance is perhaps the easiest to use. After passing through the main entrance, guests reach a parking lot in front of the theater where the ticket office is located. Upon purchasing their tickets, they are guided to a ramp which leads to the theater’s atrium.
The atrium is very wide and has benches and chairs for resting as well as multiple accessible bathrooms. The atrium also has numerous ramps and hallways leading to the theater’s many rooms, including a rehearsal stage, exhibition room, lecture room, reading room, and audio-visual corner. While some of the theater’s rooms are off limits without prior reservation, others, like the exhibition room, are open to the public and host interesting artifacts from past Noh performances.
The path to the performance stage is lined with carpet and tactile pavement. Guests with mobility impairments are instructed to enter the viewing area via a side passageway, although they are welcome to take the four steps to the main doorway if they are able to do so. Inside the theater are many rows of chairs (the theater seats 627 people) and a reserved area for wheelchair users.
Wheelchairs are available to be borrowed as needed and registered guide dogs are allowed in the theater (please inform the theater in advance so they may give you a seat with room for your dog). A writing board is available at the ticket booth for those with hearing impairments.
The National Noh Theater is a great place for experiencing traditional Japanese performance arts. Tickets are relatively cheap compared to other venues in Tokyo like the Kabukiza Theater, and the venue is very accessible for individuals with visual and mobility impairments. Shows range from an hour to a day and are absolutely worth seeing if you have the time and inclination.
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