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Kanamaru-za, Konpira Grand Theater in Kotohira – the oldest surviving Kabuki Theater in Japan

Explore the oldest Kabuki Theater in Japan and find out what’s behind and under the stage in Kanamaruza!

First built in 1835, Kanamaruza is located off the approach of Konpirasan shrine in Kagawa Prefecture.

Kanamaruza(金丸座)theater is the oldest surviving Kabuki theater in Japan, and it is designated as important cultural property.

By the way, Kabuki(歌舞伎)is a traditional Japanese theater that started in Edo Period. Kabuki is famous for its unique acting style, make-up, wigs and stage structures.

If you wanna find a little bit more about the Kabuki history, take a look at this video below.

Kanamaruza stages Kabuki performance once a year for about a month in April.

If you go to Kabuki theaters in Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, it’s nearly impossible to see what’s behind the stage.

But, in Kanamaruza theatre,  you can see what’s behind the stage and even under the stage to see how the Kabuki theater was over 180 years ago in the Edo period….

Kanamaruza Kabuki theatre is a must see place if you are staying over in Kotohira for Kotohira-gu shrine.

So, let’s find out what you can see at Kanamaruza….

The entrance of Kanamaruza

The flags standing on both sides are with Kabuki actors names on the flags.

A bridge running through the auditorium to the stage is called “Hanamichi” where the actor enters and exits.

Unique seating areas

You see grids in the picture above, a square-space inside the  grid is a seating area for one audience member.

Traditional waitresses walk on the grids to sell&serve foods and teas for you during the play. You will be able to see waitresses walk on the grids even now when you go to the Kabuki performance in April.

Hanging from the ceilings are the lanterns with sponsors names on them…

Standing area at the Kanamaruza theatre

Next to the Hanamichi, the bridge running through the theater is the standing area at the Kanamaruza theatre.

I’ve heard that this seating area was the cheapest and there was a cashier at the end of standing area next to the entrance.

Behind the stage

At the back of the stage, there are dressing rooms for Kabuki actors and you can see the rooms too.

You can also go under the stage and see many structures including a rotating stage and elevating stage where the actor jumps out.

View from the first floor(2nd floor in Japan)

The Corridor on the first floor

The corridor is so narrow and the doorway is also small, you see how small the people in Edo people were compared to now.

The seat where the emperor to be sat

The space where the three people stand is where the Japanese emperor to be sat when he visited the Kanamaruza and watched the Kabuki play.

View from where the emperor to be sat

A red lantern in the theatre

Sake Barrels from a famous local brewery Kinryo(金陵)


Kinryo(金稜)  is the local sake brewery that’s popular nationwide, and there is a museum of Kinryo sake brewery within a 10 minutes walk. There, you can see the history of Kinryo and how they made sake in the past, like over 200 years ago.

Actor’s names on the plate

The entrance of the Kanamaruza

The plus-side of visiting Kanamaruza is that Kotohira is also a town of Onsen (Hot Spring), you can soak in the Onsen and recover from the travel.

General Information

Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm (No closing days except for the time during plays)

Entrance Fee: 500 Yen for adults, 300 Yen for the aged 18 or under.

Address: 〒766-0001 香川県仲多度郡琴平町(その他)乙1241

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