First launched in 2018, the Hibiya Festival has quickly established itself as one of the bright spots in Tokyo’s cultural landscape. The performing arts festival has already drawn more than three million participants who have come to see a wide range of performances, including modern dance, opera and traditional Japanese dance and theater.
Several aspects make the event so popular: the fact that all shows are free, its connection to Hibiya’s fame as the “Broadway” of Tokyo, and the setting itself: the performances are all held outdoors, allowing visitors to enjoy the fresh air and dazzling performances at the same time.
After a hiatus of two years, the organizers, who include Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, will be hosting the Hibiya Festival from April 29 to May 16—a stretch of 18 days when the neighborhood will be filled with a theatrical spirit that will excite and inspire festival goers.
Of course, with the safety of all attendees in mind, seating and standing room will be arranged to allow for proper social distancing, and many parts of the festival will be available through the festival’s website and on YouTube.
Here is a selection of the programs that will take place during the festival.
This program, which was extremely popular at the last festival, will be expanded for this year’s event. Guests can expect to see everything from traditional Japanese and ballroom dance to musicals and opera, and up to three different stage areas will be used during the performances, giving audiences a completely immersive experience. The shows for this program will take place at Hibiya Step Square.
Highlights of this program include:
- Selected songs from operas and musicals performed by the Nissay Theatre
- A live performance of the Japanese dance piece “Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Sky and Dance.” This work, which originally starred Murasaki Fujima and was directed by Kikunosuke Onoue, was created for video in 2020. This marks the first time the piece will be performed live.
- Dance exhibitions that feature Latin American and ballroom dance
- Musical numbers performed by the Ongakuza musical troupe
- Let’s Ball, a thrilling narrative dance performance that tells the tale of Hinata and the moon, made famous through the Naruto movie
- The Legend, an opera group that features only male singers performing with exquisite bel canto technique
True to its name (machinaka means “in the middle of the city” in Japanese), this program takes the performing arts off the stage and to various locations around the neighborhood, including Hibiya Godzilla Square, Hibiya-Nakadori St., and Hibiya Park Matsumotoro.
Lovers of traditional dance will be in for a treat for this program, as it features performances by a troupe that specializes in the folk arts of Iwate Prefecture and the work of talented young choreographers.
There will also be an award-winning opera ensemble from the Tokyo University of the Arts, which will perform classics such as “O sole mio” and excerpts from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Hibiya Godzilla Square.
More opera can be enjoyed at Hibiya Matsumotoro, and at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya Park View Garden, there will be performances of the traditional Japanese storytelling art of rakugo.
Those looking for a deeper exploration of a wide variety of arts can join in on the sessions offered in this new program. They will feature lectures and demonstrations that introduce classical music, singing and the unique art of Kengido, which was developed by the samurai artist Tetsuro Shimaguchi. Please note that these lectures and demonstrations will be in Japanese.
Going Online—HIBIYA FES CHANNEL
Another unique feature of this year’s Hibiya Festival is the online component. Starting from April 21, the festival will stream performances of Noh theater, musicals, dance, opera and traditional Japanese dance shot from locations around Hibiya and Ginza. There will also be backstage tours of theaters and vocal music lectures that will provide insights into the world of performing arts.
With a brilliant lineup of ensembles and performers, the 2021 Hibiya Festival is sure to be a landmark event, so mark your calendars!
Performances are subject to change. For up-to-date details about schedules and locations, visit the official website: www.hibiya.tokyo-midtown.com/hibiya-festival