Kabuki-za Theatre — atmosphere of predecessor

CULTURE

Kabuki-za Theatre — atmosphere of predecessor

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo’s new Kabuki-za theatre opened with great fanfare and the sounds of taiko drums on April 2 2013 in the upscale Ginza shopping district. The monumental illumination is designed by internationally renowned lighting designer Motoko Ishii and her daughter Akari-Lisa Ishii, who made a great effort to create as energy efficient lighting solution as possible. fanfare and the sounds of taiko drums on April 2 in the upscale Ginza shopping district

THE EVENT marked the first day of “Shigatsu Dai-Kabuki,” part of a yearlong programme to celebrate the opening of the new theatre. More than 2,000 people gathered at Kabuki-za, forming long lines in front of ticket sales counters.

THE FIFTH VERSION

The Kabuki-za theatre has a long history dating back to 1889. Until today, the theatre has gone through many rebuilds and renovations after being damaged by earthquakes, World War II and other unlucky disasters. In 2010 the fifth version of the building was demolished due to worries over its ability to withstand earthquakes as well as accessibility issues. Now the four-storey historical landmark of Tokyo is embraced by a 143-metre, 29-storey office skyscraper, the “Kabuki-za Tower”, giving outstanding visibility to the recently opened hi-tech theatre.

365 DAYS OF LIGHT

Despite being completely rebuilt, the theatre has preserved the look of the previous building that was considered as a cultural heritage. The bright white walls, beautifully carved details and impressive entrance are illuminated with a spectacular, carefully designed light show that highlights every single detail of the building.

The multiform facade lighting creates a mood of coolness in summer and warmth in winter, while the duration and intensity of the lighting changes subtly, according to Japan’s changing seasons or corresponding to evening and earlymorning sunlight. The tiled, karahafu-styled roof is being bathed in light from the top of the high-rise Kabuki-za Tower creating the image of the everlasting moonlight since the Edo Period (1603-1867), when the history of kabuki begun.

The monumental illumination is designed by internationally renowned lighting designer Motoko Ishii and her daughter Akari-Lisa Ishii, who made a great effort to create as energy efficient lighting solution as possible. As the facade lighting performance is shown from early evening to early morning 365 days a year, the efficiency plays a vital role in the cost point of view of the lighting.

INSIDE PERFORMANCE

Like the external appearance, the inner portions of the new theatre, such as the lobby, audience seats and stage, are done in similar styles to the previous theatre. Updates to the technology used in the theatre enhance the visitor comfort and safety, including the Helvar lighting system in all public areas. The delicate but efficient lighting gives the stage for the extravaganza kabuki performances.

Commissioned and programmed by Helvar System Partner SOLX Co. Ltd. in Japan, Helvar 920 Imagine Routers create the backbone for the entire system, including the complex programming of the facade lighting to the efficient lighting control system in all public areas of the theatre. The Kabuki-za is the shining star of Tokyo’s Ginza district once again.

INTRODUCING SOLX

SOLX Co. Ltd. is a Helvar System Partner from Japan. Located in Tokyo, the active team of SOLX has worked together with Helvar since 2000.

SOLX is a professional DALI expert with fabulous projects around Japan. They are also educating DALI and Helvar lighting systems to other companies and growing awareness of our products and systems in Japan. As the SOLX team says: “We try to be the best!”

Updates to the technology used in the theatre enhance the visitor comfort and safety.

KABUKI

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of theatre that has captured the hearts and minds of audiences from its appearance at the beginning of the seventeenth century to the present day. It is recognized as one of Japan’s three major classical theatres and has been named as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Plays range from realistic tragic dramas to fantastic adventure stories. Music and dance are skillfully employed, bringing to life characters from the Japanese past, both real and imaginary. Kabuki is an art form rich in showmanship. It involves elaborately designed costumes, eye-catching make-up, outlandish wigs and the exaggerated actions performed by the actors.

Dynamic stage sets such as revolving platforms and trapdoors allow for the prompt changing of a scene or the appearance/disappearance of actors. The various elements combine to produce a visually stunning and captivating performance.

TEXT: Kitada Tomikazu, SOLX, PICTURES: SOLX, AFP/Lehtikuva

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