The Shiki Theatre Company was founded in Tokyo in 1953 to perform Western style plays in the Japanese language. Today it is the most popular and successful commercial theatre group in Japan. The company has 8 theatres, most of which are in Tokyo, but they opened a Hokkaido branch in Sapporo in 2011, and in Western Japan the Osaka Shiki Theatre opened in 2005.
The Shiki Theatre Company performs three main types of drama. Originally the company’s repertoire was restricted to classic straight plays by famous writers like Shakespeare, Chekhov, Moliere, and Racine. However, since the late 1970s they have produced many highly successful productions of West End, Broadway and Disney musicals. The company is also well known for producing original Japanese language plays and musicals.
The Osaka Shiki Theatre is a Western Style theatre with seating for 1,119 people. The theatre has a cloak room and information counter where extra seat cushions for children can be borrowed. There is also a sound-proofed children’s room where smaller, more active children can watch the performance without bothering other members of the audience. In both the foyer and lobby the theater has a shop selling souvenir goods, and in the lobby there is also a refreshments counter selling snacks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
All productions at the theatre are in Japanese, so you may not wish to go if you do not have good Japanese listening ability. On the other hand, you may find it fun to watch a familiar musical like Beauty and the Beast, or The Phantom of the Opera performed and sung in the Japanese language!
The Osaka Shiki Theatre has an English language website, but basically their staff do not speak Japanese. It is probably best if you get a Japanese speaker, such as your hotel concierge or tour guide to make bookings for you. For details of how to make reservations check the official website. Customers using wheelchairs or who need some special assistance should let the theatre staff know in advance and then they will provide assistance when you arrive at the venue.
The Osaka Shiki Theatre is located on the 7th floor of the Herbis Plaza Ent commercial complex. This is very convenient for Osaka Station as it is only a 5 minute walk from the south side of the station building. Here is a map of the location and you can also download a floor guide to the Herbis Plaza complex. After watching a performance in the theatre there are plenty of excellent dining facilities to choose from in Herbis Plaza. Although there is parking available for 725 vehicles at the nearby Hilton Plaza West, this does fill up, so customers are encouraged to use public transportation.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.