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Japan is a country filled with culture, both modern and traditional. You can catch performances by famous modern day artists or take in a traditional Japanese Kabuki show. There are also various museums and galleries as well. Last but not least, you can't miss out on the traditional Japanese way of relaxing after a hard or fun-filled day, the bath!
Buying Tickets Traditional Entertainment
Museums and Galleries
-- Japanese Traditional Art
Museums and Galleries
-- Modern Japanese and Western Art
Specialist Museums Unique Museums
Cultural Schools/Seminars/Lectures

One Way Ticket to Culture

Tickets for almost all advertised concerts can be bought at 'Playguides' around town, though it is sometimes difficult to get a good seat. The best way is to go directly to the ticket office at the theater or hall. Quite often, just a telephone call will secure your seat.

Play guides can be found all over Tokyo You can call them up and reserve tickets
by phone and pick them up at the nearest playguide. Lines are usually busy so keep
pressing that re-dial button!

Ticket Pia and Ticket Saison
As with the Playguides, you can find stores all over Tokyo. With these however, most of the time you can also find stores in department stores, some major supermarkets and convenience stores. Again, as with the Playguides, you can call and order and reserve tickets by phone.

Here are just a few of the stores, there are lots more so check out your nearest one.
Ginza Kyukyodo Ticket Service 3571-0401 Ginza 4-chome
Shinjuku Playguide 3352-4080 Shinjuku Isetan Dept. 7F
Tickets also available at department stores.
Ticket Pia 5237-9999
Ticket Saison 3341-1824
(in English)

Information for shows and events
*Tokyo Journal *Tokyo Weekender *Newspapers *Pia *City Road (in Japanese)

Traditional Entertainment

It is the most well-known of the traditional Japanese dramatic art forms. All roles are played by men. It is difficult to make a classification for Kabuki as there are so many kinds of plays. One program is staged for 20 - 25 days, with a matinee at 11 a.m. and an afternoon performance at 4 or 5 p.m. About four kinds of drama and dance are staged. For 1,000 yen you can stand and watch one act (called "tachimiseki" in Japanese) so this is a good way to get a glimpse of what Kabuki is about.
Kabuki-za 3541-3131 Ginza
Shinbashi Embujo 3541-2600 Shinbashi
National Theater 3265-7411 Hanzomon

Noh, Kyogen
Japan's oldest theater form. A subtle lyrical drama with little physical movement performed to chanting and musical accompaniment. Hard to understand but the masks and costumes give it a special beauty.
The National Theater Noh Hall gives the most performances and they also have a display of Noh masks and costumes that can be seen free of charge. Kyogen is a comedy between Noh performances and is staged many times a year. If you have the opportunity to see a performance outdoors on the grounds of a shrine or temple by torchlight, it should not be missed.
There is now what is called Modern Kyogen which is performed by itself. Aimed at younger people it sometimes incorporates things such as jazz, and can be seen performed at jazz clubs as well.

National Theater Noh Hall 3423-1331 Sendagaya
Kanze Noh Theater 3469-5241 Shibuya, Shoto
Ginza Noh Theater 3571-0197 Ginza 6-chome
Tessenkai Nogaku Genshujo 3401-2285 Minami Aoyama

Puppet theater, also known as ningyo joruri. Large puppets are manipulated by hand to the accompaniment of shamisen music and chanting. The plays often deal with the feelings of the common people. Staged in the National Theater's Small Hall in Tokyo.

As the national sport of Japan, Sumo enjoys great popularity. Six annual tournaments are held, each lasting 15 days. Three of these are held in Tokyo, in January, May and September, at the Kokugikan Sumo Arena in Ryogoku. The bouts can be seen on television, but to enjoy that special atmosphere you must go to the Kokugikan. Tickets are available at Playguides, and go on sale about three hours before the start of the day's bouts, but to ensure a good seat it is best to go to the ticket office at the Kokugikan. There is a choice of an ordinary seat or box seat, though box seats may be hard to get.

For information:
Nihon Sumo Kyokai 3623-5111
Ryogoku Kokugikan 3623-5111
Kokugikan Ticket Office 3622-1100 Telephone booking possible

Museums and Galleries
-- Japanese Traditional Art

Tokyo National Museum 3822-1111 Ueno Park
Japanese and Oriental. Tea ceremony utensils
Nezu Art Museum 3400-2536 Minami Aoyama
Chinese ceramics, tea ceremony utensils & a nice garden
Idemitsu Art Gallery 3213-9402 Marunouchi
Oriental ceramics and painting
Yamatane Museum of Art 3669-4056 Kayabacho
Contemporary Japanese painting
Suntory Museum of Art 3470-1073 Akasaka
Japanese artistic crafts, special exhibits
Hatakeyama Museum 3447-5787 Shiroganedai
Japanese artistic crafts, tea ceremony pots
Azabu Museum of Arts and Crafts 5474-1371 Roppongi
Crafts, pottery, objects

Museums and Galleries
-- Modern Japanese and Western Art

Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art 3214-2561 Ueno
Crafts Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art 3211-7781 Kitanomaru Park
Gothic-style barracks
National Museum of Western Art 3828-5131 Ueno Park
Post-Renaissance European art
Bridgestone Museum of Art 3563-0241 Kyobashi
Contemporary and Impressionist, French painting
Saison Museum 5992-0155 Ikebukuro
Modern art -- Crafts, Photos, Designs
Tobu Museum 5391-3220
Bunkamura "The Museum" 3477-9252 Shibuya
Late C19th European art, women's culture, collections from foreign museums

Specialist Museums

Specialist Museums
National Science Museum 3822-0111 Ueno Park
Science Museum 3441-7176 Kitanomaru Park
The Ancient Orient Museum 3989-3491 Ikebukuro Sunshine Bldg.
Japan Folk Craft Museum 3467-4527 Komaba
Folk crafts, furniture
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum of Art 3443-0201 Shirogane
Art-decor building. Special exhibits
Edo-Tokyo Museum 3626-9974 Ryogoku
As you go up on the escalator inside the futuristic building and catch a glimpse of the history of Tokyo since the Edo period, you will feel like you have entered a time-capsule. Reproductions of primary school text books from around the WWII period are popular gifts. Near the Sumo Ryogoku National Sports Hall, in the summer you can also watch sumo wrestling.
Fukagawa Edo Shiryoukan 3630-8625 Fukagawa

Unique Museums
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 3403-0880 Harajuku
Tobacco and Salt Museum 3476-2041 Shibuya
Ukiyoe, cigarette packs, rock salt sculpture
Kurita Museum 3666-6246 Nihonbashi, Hamacho
Imari, Nabeshima pottery
Sword Museum 3379-1386 Yoyogi
National treasures
Kite Museum 3275-2704 Nihonbashi
Kites from Japan and around the world
Hara Museum 3445-0651 Shinagawa
Modern art, video art
Striped House Gallery 3405-8108 Roppongi
Modern art
The Shitamachi Museum 3823-7451 Ueno Park
People's lifestyle from 1860's
Tokyo Tower Wax Museum 3433-5111 Shiba-koen
Wax sculptures of the famous and not so famous, including Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, The Beatles, Frank Zappa and more
There are also exhibits in department stores. Even the smallest exhibitions and galleries are worth visiting. Exhibitions in warehouses are spectacular. Most museums are often closed on Mondays.

Cultural Schools/Seminars/Lectures

The best way to get an understanding of Japanese culture, though there is a limit to the number of places offering courses in English.

Ikebana (Flower Arrangement)
There are various styles of flower arrangement and they each have their own schools.
Sogetsu School 3408-1126 Akasaka Sogetsu Kaikan
Ikenobo Gakuen 3292-3071 Kanda, Surugadai
Ohara School of Ikebana 3499-1200 Minami Aoyama, Ohara Kaikan
Ikebana International 3293-8188 Ochanomizu Square B-kan
Ikebana 3477-6277 Shibuya Tokyu Plaza, Tokyu Be

Tea Ceremony
Dai Nihon Chado Gakkai 5379-0753 Yotsuya
Sado Kaikan Hall 3361-2446 Takadanobaba

Sumi-e (Ink-Brush Pointing)
Sumi-e & Other 3477-6277 Tokyu Be

Ceramics (Togei)
Nihon Togei Club 3402-3634 Harajuku, in the Togo shrine
Kurita Craft 3402-8732 Kita Aoyama

Le Cordon Bleu 5489-0141 Daikanyama
Egami Cooking School 3269-0281 Ichigaya

Za-Zen (Zen meditation)
Taiso-ji 3917-4477 Komagome
Eiheiji-Betsuin (in Japanese) 3400-5232 Nishi Azabu
Seijozan-Kounji (in Japanese) 3416-1735 Seijo-gakuen

Japan Calligraphy Museum 3965-2611 Itabashi

Main Culture Schools
Tokyo's cultural schools offer courses in everything from the above to painting, music and technical skills. Learn some Japanese and try your hand at something.
NHK Bunka Center 3475-1151 Aoyama
Asahi Culture Center 3344-1941 Shinjuku
Tokyu Seminar 'Be' 3477-6277 Shibuya

Public baths / Onsen

Public Baths (Sento)
It is a well known (relatively) that the Japanese have a serious love affair with their baths. From back in the Edo period when Japanese houses didn't have bathtubs built into them, the public bath or sento was the place to wash and bathe. Not only did you scrub yourself clean and relax in the (very) hot water, the sento acted as a kind of community center where neighbors came together to chat and communicate.
These days, the majority of people who see an apartment without a bath or toilet (these apartments still exist) would think twice about moving in. Since bathing at home is now the norm, the sentos began to lose popularity. But leave it up to the sento owners to come up with some pretty nifty ideas to get people going again. You have your Jacuzzis, saunas, massages, even lemon baths (don't ask, don't know!). Missing that zip in your life lately? How about a bath that has electricity running through it? Talk about feeling refreshed!
Feel like going yet? Well if you do, just remember these little pointers. Wash yourself BEFORE you get in the bath. No bathing suits (it is a bath after all), and remember to bring your own towels and soap.

Japan is also a land filled with hot springs or onsen. Usually they're found somewhere other than Tokyo, but hey, Tokyo has everything else, why not an onsen? This must be your lucky day. Although you won't be able to get in the rotenburo, which is a large outdoor bathtub, and enjoy the scenery, there are onsens in Tokyo as well.

So, bust out your towels and soap and head for your local sento or onsen! Here are just a tiny fraction of sentos and onsens out there, but there's sure to be one nearby!

Azabu Juban Onsen - 3404-2610 (Azabu Juban)
Tsubame Yu - 3831-7305 (Taito-ku, Ueno)
Bain Douch - 3263-4944 (Chiyoda-ku)
Soshigaya Onsen 21 - 3483-2611 (Soshigaya Okura Odakyu line. Bath, Sauna and pool.)

Copyright by IMA Co., 1999