Japan’s Performing Arts on the Internet
Eiko Tsuboike (Institute for the Arts)
project was launched in 2000 by the cabinet of Prime Minister Mori Yoshirô, the national infrastructure has been expanded to the extent that by February 2006, 57.3% of households were connected to the Internet (with total usage rising to 85.4% of the adult population). Furthermore, in 2003 the government prioritized their “plans for the digitalization and archiving of a range of information and its transmission in Japan and abroad in order to enhance understanding of Japan’s culture,” which made specific support available under their Measures to Improve Contents.
This led to the creation of the
National Diet Library
’s comprehensive portal site “PORTA” to access digital information, and
Database Navigation Service gateway to their extensive database of Japan-related sites. These have greatly facilitated research, with 930 links to arts-related sites as of January 2008. Furthermore, the governmental archive on regional traditional and classical performing arts has dramatically increased the amount of information available on the Net.
In addition, the free encyclopedia Wikipedia is rapidly expanding with new articles being added daily by users, and now holds over 200,000 articles in Japanese and 2 million in English. The amount of information varies according to genre, but a lot of basic information is available especially on the classical performing arts and animé. Also, with many new sites selling CDs, tickets, and so forth, depending on the site it is now possible to get the latest news and information for free.
Since about 2002, blogging has become hugely popular and is now a significant arena for exchanging information. In the area of culture and the arts, an increasing number of artists, journalists, producers, arts administrators and others are providing information through blogs. There are both good and bad sites, from online diaries to people in the know about the latest trends, but there are some real gems to be found. However, there is very little in English, and individual blogs are not always reliable, sometimes providing different information to that available on official sites, so care must be taken.
Sites on Japan’s Performing Arts
Wikipedia has a substantial amount of basic information on Kabuki, as does the private English site
, which also includes the latest news, a database on actors, plays, and even a program archive.
The Stanford Japan Center
run by Stanford University provides useful links. Shôchiku, the entertainment corporation that runs the Kabuki-za theater in Tokyo, also provides an English page giving the latest schedules, as well as a link to the Shôchiku Kabuki Pavilion where you can see the various
make-up styles along with other useful introductory information on Kabuki. “The World of Sound” on the “Let’s Take a Look at the World of KABUKI” page enables you to listen to samplers of
and so forth.
The Japan Arts Council provides a
Digital Cultural Library in Japanese
with video clips on the basics of Kabuki as well as images. Waseda University’s
Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum
is one of Japan’s best resources related to theater, and has the
“Ukiyoe Viewing System” database
of 47,000 ukiyo-e images. A journal specializing in traditional performing arts,
, operates a site providing access to full-length interviews with various artists in classical theater. The Nôson Kabuki (regional Kabuki) also offers a very comprehensive site on regional Kabuki called
Kabuki & Nôson Kabuki Link
Nôgaku and Bunraku
Many initiatives aim to provide substantial information on Nô and Kyôgen, which have been designated as an intangible World Heritage, but these remain limited nevertheless. Sites providing extensive information on Nô and Kyôgen in English include Wikipedia. Basic information can be found on the
Japan Arts Council’s site
, which also provides
video clips of plays
The Nôgaku Kyôkai
provides a Japanese-only database of Nô plays and around 70 Nô theaters in Japan. Information on events is available on
, and the
provides a handy set of links to sites giving information about actors.
Wikipedia also provides comprehensive information on Bunraku. Other useful sites in English include the Japan Art Council’s
Introduction to Bunraku
and the official site of the
. The Yomiuri Shimbun in Kansai offers a Japanese-only page giving up-to-date news about Bunraku.
Contemporary Theater and Dance
Compared to the traditional performing arts, Wikipedia coverage of contemporary theater and dance is decidedly limited. There are many sites on individual companies and artists, but few sites giving general information. The most comprehensive site in English is The Japan Foundation’s
Performing Arts Network Japan
, updated monthly, which includes a database of artists and plays, a festival calendar, interviews with artists and so forth.
provides ticket information and up-to-date news and press releases, and is useful for details on the latest shows.
The Digital Archive Collection
run by Waseda University’s Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum includes a useful database record of contemporary theater performances.
Japan Contemporary Dance Network
operates a site providing information in Japanese on over 100 artists and companies, complete with photos (they also provide a booklet in English).
The most comprehensive English-language site for information on classical music in Japan is
NEC Navigates JAPAN’s CLASSICAL MUSIC ARTISTS
, operated by the Japan Association of Classical Music Presenters together with NEC Corporation. This covers Western classical as well as traditional Japanese music, with a database of musicians with profiles, CDs, and access data. It also provides the latest news updates, so is worth checking regularly. The long-standing private site
gives links to orchestras and opera houses in Japan and abroad, but is in Japanese only.
Wikipedia provides introductory information on a wide range of
traditional Japanese music genres. Japan Traditional Cultures Foundation runs
Japo Net Classics
with a comprehensive database and commentary of musicians, while the
Japanese Traditional Music site
run by Columbia Music Entertainment has very thorough explanations of instruments and history. Anyone wanting to find out about
drummers and groups can use the database on
Wadaiko Don Don Dot Com
. Wikipedia has detailed information on Gakaku court music, while Nakata Taizô’s personal site
is also comprehensive. In addition, the specialist magazine
provides links to musicians on their site.
Theatre Support are compiling a database of 1,500 venues throughout Japan on their site
HALL IN ONE
, while the site
have their fingers on the pulse of the latest artist trends, but both are in Japanese only.