Do you want to watch a kabuki performance but don't have much time so spare? The solution is getting a single act ticket – known as Hitomaku-mi Seki.
Kabuki performances can be quite long. And for travellers who have a tight itinerary, it might not be ideal so some might choose to scrap watching one entirely. But each kabuki performance is divided into different acts, much like a play is. On the other hand, the ticket for a full kabuki performance can be quite expensive. If you would like to see this traditional art at a reasonable price, purchasing a single act ticket is a great option.
In a way, a single act ticket acts as a glimpse into kabuki. For foreigners who may not know Japanese, an entire act can be quite a daunting challenge. But if after watching one act you decide that you want to see more, purchasing tickets for the remaining acts is still possible.
A single act ticket, besides only being valid for a single act, cannot be reserved and is only available for purchase on the day of the performance. The selling time usually starts two to three hours before the act begins. For example, if an act starts at 1:30pm then tickets would start selling at 11:30am. The tickets could only be purchased on-site at the fourth floor of the Kabuki-za theatre.
There are only 90 seat tickets and 60 standing tickets so it does get sold quite quickly especially for popular performances. The price of a single act ticket depends on the length of the act but it could be anywhere from 600 to 2,000 yen. Only cash is accepted for single act tickets.
While the act starts at a scheduled time, there is a certain time that visitors are asked to arrive at the theatre. When you purchase the ticket, the attendant will let you know. This is because visitors need to line up according to the number on their tickets. These are not seat tickets but rather only for lining up on who gets to enter the theatre first. Once inside, you are free to choose your seat.
Take note that the attendants would be likely be speaking in Japanese. If you are a foreigner, they would most likely hand you a card with English instructions which is what they are saying out loud. Photo taking and video recording is prohibited during the performance but can be taken during the break. Cellphones must be switched off or switched to silent mode as well.
There are also English guides available for rent (you have to pay a deposit). For Kabuki-za, there is an English captioned guide. If you are used to reading subtitles while watching foreign films then this is highly recommended as it will make it easier to follow along but if not, it could be equally considered a distraction from the kabuki experience. If you really want to have a translation of the performance then it is well worth a try.