After being banished in the 17th century to the hinderland by puritanic Tokugawa rulers, Kabuki [def: song dance skill] made its formal return to the capital city in the late 19th century with the establishment of the Kabuki-za [def: theater] in 1889 in the Kobikicho neighborhood of Tokyo's Ginza district. There have been three theaters built on this same location until the present day.
The first Kabukiza, a building that very much blended Western and Japanese architectural traditions, was constructed originally as the Tokyo residence of the Hosokawa clan. Used instead as a theater, it burned down in 1921. The second Kabukiza built on the site was uncompleted when leveled by the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake but it was quickly repaired and opened to the public in 1924. The architectural style of this second Kabukiza was more baroque in appearance than was the original venue.
Wartime fire-bombing claimed this theater in 1945 but it, too, was rebuilt to its pre-war appearance in the immediate aftermath of World War II and reopened in 1947 when Occupation authorities once again allowed Kabuki to be performed after a brief postwar prohibition. It is this Kabukiza that remains today.
As theater, Kabuki is best-known to many Westerners for its reliance on male actors for the portraiture of both male and female roles (onnagata [def: woman form alternative]). The term Kabuki itself is formed of three words -- ka [sing], bu [dance] and ki [skill] -- and is a literal description of its stage form.
During its first two decades, dating from 1603, females -- not males -- performed all roles. Purient Tokugawa authorities banned female performers from Kabuki roles in 1629, then displaced Kabuki troupes entirely out of the Edo administrative districts into more distant, less accessible locales including Asakusa. The ban was lifted in 1879 by Meiji reformers but by then onnagata had become so thoroughly identified with, and ingrained into, Kabuki tradition that female impersonation remained de rigeur.
Opposite the aristocratic appeal of Noh, Kabuki was a "peoples' drama." Considered to be avant-garde at its beginnings (and, hence, morally corrupt according to Tokugawa culture), Kabuki borrowed much from Japan's puppet theater traditions: its plays, stagings, costumes and even puppet-ish movements. Like Western opera, much dialogue is given with musical accompaniment; Kabuki orchestras [debayashi] consist of various percussion instruments (including taiko), a Noh flute, samisen, and shakuhachi.
Two other Kabuki theaters also relocated to Tokyo after the Restoration: the Shintomiza and the Meijiza.
For additional information about Kabuki, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabuki