Kids rarely get a chance to see live performances of traditional stage arts like noh these days. (Tokyo Metropolitan Government)
Kids today do not have many opportunities to see traditional theatrical performances. Many middle and high schools, therefore, schedule outings to see live performances of traditional stage arts in the hopes of piquing students' interest in traditional culture.
Like field trips and school excursions, these outings are made by the entire grade or school. In and around Tokyo, most students go to see performances of kabuki or noh. But in rural areas, outings may be made to view traditional arts unique to that locality.
These performances are usually preceded by an explanation to help the students understand what is going on and to make the performance more enjoyable. For most students, this is their first exposure to live traditional theater, and they become wrapped up in the performance.
Front entrance of the National Theater. (National Theater)
Many schools in the greater Tokyo area visit the National Theater, located near the Imperial Palace. The theater sponsors special kabuki performances for middle and high school students complete with commentary during two months in spring and another two months in the fall. A 30-minute introduction to kabuki is given, followed by explanations of key scenes and special stage effects. The students then sit back to enjoy a kabuki play, usually a rousing piece with an easy-to-understand plot.
These "kabuki appreciation classrooms" allow young students to deepen their knowledge of a traditional stage art while also enabling them to see a first-rate performance. Some schools from even outside the Tokyo region schedule visits to the theater for this rare and valuable experience.