Cho Kabuki: Traditional Japanese Kabuki Theater With a Vocaloid Twist Coming Your Way This September

Japan’s traditional kabuki theater and the worlds’ biggest virtual diva Hatsune Miku join forces to bring the one-of-a-kind show Cho Kabuki overseas! This September, be prepared for high-class kabuki performances, sensational stage effects, and the excitement of vocaloid culture with an epic streaming event from Minamiza Theatre, Kyoto’s historic kabuki theater. If you love both traditional Japan and Japanese pop culture, Cho Kabuki is the perfect occasion to enjoy the best of both worlds from the comfort of your home while you wait to visit Japan again!

*This article was sponsored by NTT-SHOCHIKU PARTNERS.

What Is Kabuki - Traditional Japanese Theater?

Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese drama. With over 400 years of history and a unique heritage consisting of highly stylized songs, dances, exaggerated gestures and body movements, as well as superb costumes and striking makeup, it is an incredibly distinctive form of art that makes a deep impression on the imagination.

It is so universally renowned for its high cultural value that it was designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005 and hasn’t stopped expanding its fan base of international enthusiasts since!

For more information: kabuki official website by Shochiku.


What Is Cho Kabuki? Why You Shouldn’t Miss This Show

Cho Kabuki represents the fusion of traditional kabuki with modern elements such as the worlds’ biggest virtual diva, Hatsune Miku. By pairing modern pop culture and technology with refined traditional kabuki's acting and directing techniques, Cho Kabuki attempts to create a completely new and revolutionary kabuki experience.

The secret that makes this fusion possible is the extraordinary technology supplied by NTT, one of Japan's biggest telecommunications companies. The ultra-realistic telepresence technology "Kirari" collects and processes information using ICT technology and performs synchronized transmission in real time. 

The highlights of Cho Kabuki's performance are the production using real-time subject extraction technology (a technique that allows the creation of an alter ego) in which the actors on stage and the 3D images show the same movement in real time and the video production using real-time style conversion technology (transcendence technique) in which the light of a penlight rapidly captures Nakamura Shido's body. This is how Cho Kabuki's magical performance is born! 

When you hear the words "virtual singer" and "kabuki" in the same sentence, you might be already aware that Cho Kabuki is not your usual kabuki experience! But there's one more remarkable aspect to this unique show that makes it even more exciting! The sense of interaction between the actors, the cutting-edge stage, and the audience which you get to enjoy thanks to Cho Kabuki's unique performance. 

New elements are added every year and the show keeps becoming more exciting, aided by NTT's technology! So, this then begs the question: how will the audience be surprised this time at Minamiza Theatre?

Catch a Glimpse of This Year's Cho Kabuki With This Thrilling Trailer

This September’s Cho Kabuki program will start with a short movie introducing the charms of Cho Kabuki to the audience, setting the atmosphere for a magical show that both kabuki veterans and first-timers alike will enjoy. This will be followed by the exciting new dance production, MIYAKOZOME KABUKI NO IRODORI.

Performed for the first time ever, it allows viewers to enjoy three different types of kabuki dance, including a dance that portrays a "koimoyo" (love story) of geisha and the "Lion Dance" performed by Nakamura Shido and Hatsune Miku, which are sure to truly charm the audience.  

The second section of Cho Kabuki, OTOGIZŌSHI KOI NO SUGATAE is based on the legend of the Tsuchigumo, a giant and monstrous spider defeated by Minamoto no Yorimitsu. The story is centered around the love story between Yorimitsu and his beloved fiance, the beautiful courtesan Nanaaya Dayu played by Hatsune Miku. 

Yamanba Ibaraki Baba plots to subvert Japan by turning Nanaaya Dayu into a spider monster. In order to save Japan from being turned into a demon world for good and save the soul of Nanaaya Dayu, Yorimitsu and his loyal retainer Hirai Yasumasa must battle the monster played by Hatsune Miku. 

In the play, samurai's brotherhood and loyalty are also depicted, and the scene of seppuku is sure to astound the audience.

Upon watching this unique kabuki performance, you are bound to soak in the ambiance of a feudal Japan populated by magic, curses, monsters, and even the story of forbidden love. The show vividly comes to life thanks to the acting skills of one of today’s most popular kabuki stars, Nakamura Shidō, and the bubbly contribution of Hatsune Miku and her songs, as well as acrobats and dancers. You will definitely find your eyes glued to the screen!

Follow the dynamic narration that makes the best out of a mix of action scenes, dramatic moments, and traditional dance sections while being amazed by how technology adds flavor to the story! Enjoy a whole world of enchanting animated backgrounds that enhance the epic aura of the play through ever-changing projections!

About the Cast of This Year's Cho Kabuki

Nakamura Shido

Official Website

Hatsune Miku

Official Website

How Can I Watch Cho Kabuki If I Live Overseas?

Overseas viewers can enjoy Cho Kabuki on the streaming platform ZAIKO. The stream is a high-quality recording of the actual performance that took place at Kyoto’s Minamiza Theatre on September 12, 2021. It will be available for streaming from September 20 at 12:00 pm (JST) to September 26 at 11:59 pm (JST), 2021.

Worried that you might not be able to understand Cho Kabuki since it is in Japanese? Fret not! The video stream has English subtitles, so you can just comfortably sit on your couch and enjoy the show! 

*Please check the website for further information about ZAIKO’s policies and technical requirements.

Where Can I Buy Cho Kabuki Tickets?

Cho Kabuki streaming tickets are available on ZAIKO starting August 12 at 12:00 pm (JST) until September 25 at 8:00 pm (JST). Get yours for the opportunity to witness a performance like you’ve never seen before!

*Before purchasing tickets, make sure that your country / area is included in the streaming distribution countries. Distribution countries include: 

  • USA
  • UK
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Spain
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Mexico
  • India
  • South Africa

If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram!

Kansai Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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About the author

Stefania Sabia
Born and raised in Italy, Stefania spent some of her teen years in Ireland. Today, Stefania lives in Tokyo and she likes to explore traditional Japan, hidden spots, and anything with retro aesthetics. Since childhood, she has always admired Japanese culture, and after coming to Japan, she made it her mission to explore the country and showcase its beauty on Instagram.
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