Entertainment in Osaka
As a town with merchants as its principal players for more than 400 years, much of Osaka culture has been based on public-oriented “show culture”. In Osaka Castle Park, one of the most popular spots in Osaka, a new theater has opened and it is offering leading-edge shows under the theme of “NIPPON.” Meanwhile, in the world of Osaka’s representative traditional entertainment, bunraku and noh, performances and tours for theater beginners and foreign tourists are offered to provide an opportunity for them to enjoy the entertainment casually. Let’s enjoy entertainment in Osaka!
WW Hall at “Cool Japan Park Osaka”
The show is now on at a new theater which opened as a new trend-setting hub for Osaka’s entertainment in February 2019 at Osaka Castle Park. The setting of the show is the Kansai area centering on Osaka. The show features elaborate props and devices used for kabuki and incorporates various images in the background with a succession of live performances, such as tap-dancing monks and theatrical swordfights by a group of ninja.
A scene where ninja boys are wandering into a cemetery. With a broken lantern burning and a ghost appearing, they are flying around using the traditional stagecraft of kabuki. All-stars of Japan’s famous yokai (specters) get together and start dancing.
A scene of a battle between a red ninja group and black ninja group. The projected image reacts to the movement of the ninja, creating a world just like a graphic novel. The combination of the meticulously calculated images and the sophisticated performance of theatrical combat will take your breath away.
The finale is a fun performance with all the cast. The stage becomes a huge pachinko table and when a jackpot is hit, there will be “oohs and aahs” from the audience.
Fees: 7,000 yen for S seat adult, 5,000 yen for A seat adult
Nearest station: JR Osakajokoen Station
Yamamoto Noh Theater
Beloved by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, noh is still alive in Osaka. Yamamoto Noh Theater, the oldest noh theater in Osaka, actively offers events for noh beginners and foreigners. Popular events include a backstage tour to learn the history of noh and interpretation of noh dramas and hands-on classes to try noh movement on stage and put on a noh costume. A “Kamigata (Kansai) traditional entertainment night for beginners” is scheduled for July 6 (English subtitles available).
A noh theater equipped with a traditional noh stage format was registered as one of the nationally designated cultural properties (structures). Open the door, and you will be surprised by the presence of the noh theater within a building, as if there is another dimension within.
You can see a roof with thick cypress bark shingles using a hiwadabuki method (traditional Japanese construction technique) and big earthenware jars under the stage. A combination of backstage tour and hands-on class is also available (3,000 yen for about 90 min.).
Backstage tour: 1,000 yen (about 60 min.)
Hands-on classes: 2,500 yen (about 90 min.)
Nearest station: Subway Tanimachi Yonchome Station
Jul. 1 (Sat), 18:00
Kamigata traditional entertainment night for beginners (program tbd)
– About three programs will be selected from the repertoire of Kamigata traditional entertainment and highlights of respective programs will be played.
– Fees: tbd
*Explanatory captions will be available in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
Jul. 23 (Tue), 19:00
– Noh performance with commentaries by a noh actor
– Advance ticket: 3,000 yen, Ticket at door: 4,000 yen
* Explanatory captions in Japanese and English will be available.
National Bunraku Theatre
Bunraku is one of the traditional kinds of entertainment Osaka is proud of. Also known as ningyo joruri and with a history of more than 300 years, bunraku was born in Osaka in the late 17th century. It is a puppet theater, in which a puppet is operated by three performers in coordination with jojuri by a tayu singer and shamisen player. At National Bunraku Theatre, a performance for foreigners, “Discover BUNRAKU,” is offered once a year. Commentaries are provided in English and Japanese, along with “earphone guide” in English and leaflets of program summaries in five languages.
The exhibition room on the 1st floor of the theatre introduces bunraku. Let’s learn about the charms of bunraku, which is in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.
Open hours: 10:00~18:00
Admission charge: free
The exhibition room is closed on an irregular basis.
A leaflet about bunraku is available in four languages (English, Chinese, Korean, and French).
Nearest station: Nippombashi Station on the Osaka Metro and Kintetsu lines
*The information herein is as of June 2019.