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Man playing a traditional Japanese instrument shamisen as part of a parade
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Dive into traditional Japanese theater arts

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See another facet of Japanese culture by attending a theater performance. Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku theater have existed on the island for centuries, though Kabuki has perhaps become the best-known. Painted in make-up, the actors perform epic scenes with the help of props.

Tokyo is full of opportunities to watch Kabuki theater. Visit the Ginza district's Kabukiza, for example, or the National Theater, where you can see an exhibition of Bunraku puppets. These wooden figures have porcelain expressions and require three puppeteers each. In the capital, you can also visit the National Noh Theater or the Hosho Nogakudo to see Noh performances.

Noh plays are musical dramas in which the actors wear elaborate masks and costumes. There are also open-air Noh performances in various shrines during certain festivals. If you're visiting Japan in August, don't miss the Awa-Odori festival in Tokushima. During this celebration, nicknamed the "Fools' Dance", you'll see a variety of performances in traditional outfits.

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