What If…”

Many great art in the world is created by asking that simple question…

JTB and the World Heritage Theater (WHT) did just that by asking this question:

{WHAT IF… Nikko Toshogu and Kabuki collaborated to create a special performance stage?}

And what did they end up with?

They created an immortal performance that will remain cherished in the audience’s memories forever.


General Information About Nikko Toshogu

Nikko Toshogu
Nikko Toshogu

When you hear about Japanese history and tales of samurai warriors and shogunates, you’re likely to have come across the familiar war general Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Ieyasu is famous for having ended the Sengoku (War) Period of Japan and unifying it under the Tokugawa Rule, otherwise known as the Edo Period.

This not only led to Japan’s nearly 260 years of peace, but also formed a solid relationship with other surround countries in the international community. Perhaps that is why Ieyasu’s tomb continues to be visited by people from all over the world, paying homage to this great ruler who united Japan in the international context.


Nikko Toshogu
Nikko Toshogu


So, what does Nikko Toshogu have anything to do with General Ieyasu?

Nikko Toshogu was designated as one of Ieyasu’s resting place in his will, as well as Mount Kuno Toshogu. These tombs have never been desecrated so no one knows for sure which tomb holds his remains, if at all, and much mystery remains about these sacred sites, similar to how the Egyptian Pyramids are veiled in secrecy.


Nikko Toshogu
Nikko Toshogu


What you will encounter at Nikko Toshogu is stylistic beauty of Japanese architecture, arguably the most intricate and decorative, and the tools and symbols essential to the worship of Shintoism, one of Japan’s national religions.

Every 50 years, Nikko Toshogu must commemorate Ieyasu’s life and death, and this year happens to be the 400th anniversary of his passing, calling for a series of spectacular celebrations, so come experience and be a part of this rare occasion, which is only held every half century.

General Information About Kabuki and Ichikawa Ebizo 

World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu
World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu

Kabuki is a Japanese traditional dance-drama performance, presently performed only by men, but playing both male and female characters.

One of the leading Kabuki performers today is Ishikawa Ebizo, the “Prince of Kabuki.”

What makes Ebizo appealing to many audiences is his strong presence and charisma, always leading the way in contemporary Kabuki, yet respecting the Kabuki tradition and custom that has been popular and enjoyed by many in Japan since the 17th Century.


World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu
World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu


So, it should come by no surprise that the Prince of Kabuki would want to bring something new to the world audience, by creating a brand-new, limited stage at the steps of Nikko Toshogu.

Imagine… a stage… created for enjoyment of Kabuki… with a contemporary twist of using the Nikko Toshogu, a World Heritage, as a theater… presenting Ebizo’s interpretation of songs, dances, and dialogues of tradition tales, dear to the heart of those who admire and understand Japanese folk and history…

World Heritage Theater at Nikko Toshogu

As mentioned by other posts on this blog, Japan is home to several World Heritage Sites, which are designated spaces considered to be of international importance and worthy of protection and preservation.

Nikko Toshogu is one such site, and JTB has become part of history by introducing a World Heritage Site turned World Heritage Theater, an original, innovative concept being promoted by Japan.

Theater tickets can be difficult to get, but as a traveler with JTB, this World Heritage Theater experience can be part of your travel with ease. What more than a hassle-less theater viewing can a traveler enjoy, especially after days of footwork and train traveling?

World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu
World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu


This year, Nikko Toshogu has become the World Heritage Theater site because of its half-century commemoration of Ieyasu, as mentioned above.

As part of the year-long festivities, JTB is happy to present this collaboration between past and present, tradition and contemporary, custom and innovation.

The stage is put together by leading Japanese stage builders, sound technicians, and producers, with the support and advise of those in the Kabuki entertainment business. Seating is always limited, however, and as with other performances at World Heritage Sites, the Ebizo performance on October 11, 2015, for example, quickly filled up.

World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu
World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu


Let the Magical Performance Begin!

Nikko Toshogu, a popular destination by Japanese and international visitors alike, is usually crowded, even on weekdays, and packed with schoolchildren, tour groups, families, friends, and couples.

Toshogu during the day is a place where bright colors of various buildings and structures shout out and present a colorful palette to the visitor’s eyes.

The architecture is also surrounded by a crisp, fresh air that is unique to places like Nikko, high in the neck of woods and constantly filled with the smell of Nikko cedar and visually refreshing.

World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu
World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu


But just like a Kabuki actor who looks like a regular Joe during the day and might blend in with the bustling Tokyo or Kyoto city life, Nikko Toshogu turns into a different species at night.

A Kabuki actor will take hours to do his makeup to transform himself into the mythical character in the folk tale…

Similarly, Toshogu at night will wear “makeup” of shadows, darkness, and lighting to transform into the World Heritage Theater, creating a stage that is more dramatic, enticing, and tempting to the audience.


World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu
World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshogu


The performance by Ebizo at the World Heritage Theater was considered groundbreaking and made major headlines all over the world, thanks to the special collaboration with Nikko Toshogu.

And what made all of this possible…?

Well, it’s simple. Just asking the simple question: “WHAT IF?

So, when you are planning to visit Japan, why don’t you ask yourself that same question?

What if… I were able to experience an immortal traditional performance by world class Japanese performers at a world class site…?

Once you start asking, there’s no stopping you.

Because next time, it could be your turn.

Come make your “WHAT IF?” into a reality with JTB Luxury Escapes!


2015 Oct Japan World Heritage Theater Nikko Toshugu (125) (1280x819)

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