TOKYO (AFP).- Lights began to shine on Tokyo's celebrated home of traditional kabuki theatre on Thursday, as the renovated venue prepares to raise the curtains on a new era.
The new Kabuki-za theatre, part of a 29-storey office building in the upscale Ginza shopping district, has now started an evening illumination program ahead of its April opening.
The theatre occupies the bottom floors of the tower, retaining some elements of the original facade, which evokes medieval Japanese castles and temples with its curved roofs and red paper lanterns.
Standing 145 metres (470 feet) high, the new skyscraper is the tallest building in the area. Overlooking an eastern section of the Japanese capital, the summit of Mount Fuji can be seen on clear days.
For decades, the kabuki-za has been the premiere venue to see the 400-year-old stylised performing art, whose all-male casts perform in extravagant costumes and mask-like facial makeup.
The new four-storey playhouse, with an 1,800-seat capacity, is the fifth version of the theatre, whose history dates back to 1889.
The previous building, which was built in 1951 to replace the one that was heavily damaged in World War II, was demolished in 2010 due to worries over its ability to withstand earthquakes.
The new building has been designed to function as a refuge in case of disasters such as earthquakes, as communities across Japan heighten their disaster readiness in light of the deadly earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
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