Kagurazaka Street Stage O-edo Tour 2016 – A Taste of Traditional Japanese Culture

Get up close and personal with geishas and experience traditional Japanese performing arts at Kagurazaka's annual festival where the streets become the stage.

Kagurazaka Street

Photo Credit: t.ohashi via Flickr cc

The Kagurazaka Neighborhood

Jump on the metro from Shinjuku station and head 15 minutes east to the sloping streets of Kagurazaka. The secret behind the town’s unique charm is the inimitable marriage of traditional Japanese culture with modern French style and cuisine. Often referred to as Little Paris, the sophisticated neighborhood of Kagurazaka is home to the highest concentration of French restaurants and bakeries in Tokyo, with the main street filling your hungry eyes and nostrils with the familiar smells of bistros and freshly baked bread. But one small step off Waseda Dori, the main street, and you’ll find yourself stepping back in time to cobbled backstreets lined with traditional wooden houses, shops and activities reminiscent of the Edo era.

神楽坂路上界隈〜新内流し

Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

Found on the outskirts of the Edo Castle during the Edo period, Kagurazaka was home to many a Samurai soldier and quickly became known as a popular entertainment district. The area has kept its status as one of the only remaining hanamachi (geisha districts) in Tokyo, as well as being an ideal spot to experience Japanese performing arts in one of its ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurants with performing geisha), notably during the unmissable Street Stage O-edo Tour which takes place in November every year. Throughout Kagurazaka you’ll find shops paying homage to the district’s past with traditional sweets, old toys and kimonos, as well as the potential to spot a real geisha. The small and quaint town of Kagurazaka emits community vibes, tempting in tourists and locals, francophiles and Japanese trinket-searchers, all ready to get lost in the meandering streets that give the neighborhood a certain je ne sais quoi.

Want to stick with the traditional on your trip to Japan? We’ve searched out the best places to stay for our Shinjuku Accommodation Guide.

Stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan with Our Guide to the Traditional Japanese Hotel. 

Kagurazaka Street Stage O-edo Tour 2016

神楽坂楽座〜講釈場

Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

For the past four years, the people of Kagurazaka have taken to the streets every November to exhibit the traditional performing arts that have defined this entertainment district for 400 years. Locals of all ages come together and celebrate Japanese cultural traditions by turning the whole town of Kagurazaka into a stage in the form of music, dance, plays, storytelling and tea ceremonies. This year the event will run over the weekend of Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November 2016, with performances taking place in restaurants, bars, in front of cafes and throughout the streets of Kagurazaka.

The event kicks off on Saturday afternoon which acts as the build-up to the main event on Sunday. On Saturday night you can step into the shoes of locals from the Edo period and enjoy the nighttime buzz and entertainment filling the cheerful streets. Sunday is an all-day affair which also consists of street parades and indoor performances, as well as the chance to play traditional parlor games with real Japanese geisha.

Want to know more about the Japanese arts, have a read of our guide to Japanese Theatre from Traditional to Modern.

Saturday Itinerary (Eve Events)

店めぐり・古典芸能ライブ

Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

Live Performances

* 15:00 – 15:45 French Rakugo Performance at The Royal Scotsman

* 16:00 – 16:45 Kōdan Storytelling and Shinnai-Bushi Shamisen Music at Enkaen

* 17:00 – 17:30 Jiuta and Soukyoku Music at Fuga Style Café

* 19:00 – 19:30 Hougaku Hayashi Music (and other performances) at Kagurazaka Monogatari

15:00 – 19:30, Saturday 12th November 2016                   

­    +81 3 5478 8265

¥     Free                                                                            

­   Tickets distributed at venue one hour before event  

­Official Website


Kagurazaka Map

神楽坂芸能めぐり街角ライブ1

Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

Street Performances

[Also on Sunday at different times]

* 15:00 – 16:10 and 17:30 – 18:30 Jouhana Hikiyama Festival, starting at Zenkoku-ji Temple
An imitation of the traditional Jouhana Hikiyama Festival that has taken place in the Toyama prefecture for the last 300 years, this street parade displays floats, flutes and shamisen music.

* 16:30 – 17:30 and 18:30 – 19:30 Shinnai Nagashi Performance, starting at Jinai Park
Group parade led by resident of Kagurazaka and national treasure, Tsuruga Wakasanojou.

Kagurazaka Festival Map

Traditional Performing Arts Class 

Try your hand at traditional Japanese performing arts for just ¥500 at this beginner’s class. Whether you’re interested in the typical sound of the 3-stringed shamisen or the hidden secrets of rakugo storytelling, an expert will fill you in on the ins and outs of many traditional Japanese performing arts in this informative class. Although reservations are not required, tickets are given out on a first come first served basis so be sure to turn up at Bishamonten Zenkoku-ji Temple Shoin at 13:00 to fix your place.

  14:00 – 15:30, Saturday 29th October 2016

  Tickets distributed at venue from 1pm 
          (First come first served, capacity 50 people) 

  +81 3 5478 8265 (Japanese only)

        info@koten.co.jp (English available)

 ¥   500

­  Class run in Japanese only                                     

­  Bishamonten, Zenkoku-ji Temple                       

­  Official Website

Sunday Itinerary (Main Festival)

神楽坂路上界隈〜城端曳山祭〈庵唄〉

Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

Live Performances

* 11:30 – 16:30 Kagurazaka Rakuza Storytelling at Lecture Field, Bishamonten Zenkoku-ji Temple

* 12:30 – 16:30 Performing Arts Tour and Live Street Performances at three locations: In front of Kagurazaka Shimakin, Yamashita Shikki shop, and Park Luxe Kagurazaka Pocket Park

* 13:00 – 14:00 and 14:30 – 15:30 Geisha Experience (Ozashiki Asobi) at Kenban Geisha Administration Office

* 17:00 – 18:00 Evening Live Music Performance at Akagi-jinja Shrine Kagura Hall

­   11:30 – 18:00, Sunday 13th November 2016                                             

­   +81 3 5478 8265

¥     Free (Geisha experience – ¥2,500)                                                                           

­   Tickets distributed at venue one hour before event                          

   Official Website


Kagurazaka Sunday Map

Street Performances

[Also on Saturday at different times]

* 12:00 – 12:40, 13:10 – 13:50 and 14:20 – 15:00 Jouhana Hikiyama Festival, starting at Zenkoku-ji Temple
An imitation of the traditional Jouhana Hikiyama Festival that has taken place in the Toyama prefecture for the last 300 years, this street parade displays floats, flutes and shamisen music.

* 12:30 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 16:30 Shinnai Nagashi Performance, starting at Jinai Park
Group parade led by resident of Kagurazaka and national treasure, Tsuruga Wakasanojou.


Kagurazaka Street Performances Map

Kagurazaka Time Slip

* 11:30 – 16:00 Stamp Rally & Historical Tours at seven different stamp spots

Collect stamps at all of the seven stamp spots around Kagurazaka and exchange them for prizes. Historical guides are available along the way for a fascinating insight into the area and its history.

The Geisha Experience (Ozashiki Asobi)

覗いてみようお座敷遊び

Official Photo Provided by kaguramachi.jp

As one of the few remaining hanamachi (geisha districts) left in Tokyo, Kagurazaka gives you the rare opportunity to meet a real geisha or maiko (geisha in training). The Ozashiki Asobi is the ultimate geisha experience consisting of a mesmerizing recital of traditional songs, dances and shamisen (3-stringed instrument) performances, followed by the ozashiki asobi itself, where the geisha play traditional parlor drinking games with the guests.

The performance takes place at the Kenban which usually acts as the administration office and training place for the geisha and maiko. This is an unmissable experience that’s hard to find outside of Kyoto and especially rare at just ¥2,500.

  13:00 – 14:00

       14:30 – 15:30, Sunday 13th November 2016   

  +81 120-240-540 (toll-free number)

¥    2,500                                                               

  English brochures and translation on the day

­  Official Website

Access to Kagurazaka

Kagurazaka lies between Iidabashi Station and Kagurazaka Station. Iidabashi Station can be found on a number of metro and JR lines, whereas Kagurazaka station is only available via the Tozai metro line. 

Arriving into Iidabashi Station will bring you out at the river which lies at the bottom of Waseda Dori, the main street through Kagurazaka. If you’re arriving into Kagurazaka Station, you’ll find yourself at the top of Waseda Dori.

Iidabashi Station

Iidabashi Lines

Kagurazaka Station

 Kagurazaka Tozai Line

Map of Kagurazaka

Map of Kagurazaka with Stations

For more information regarding the Kagurazaka Street Stage O-edo Tour 2016, check out their official website.

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# Things to Do in Tokyo # Things to Do in Kagurazaka # Things to Do in Japan

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