With a history stretching back over 400 years, kabuki theater form has a vast repertoire that is still performed, ranging from antique pieces that are hundreds of years old right up to brand new theatrical experiments. It is a popular theatre that always reflected the tastes and fashions of the townspeople. Retaining the distinctive characteristics of the previous buildings, the new Kabukiza Theatre inherits the history and the visual setting of its forebear with its strong cultural presence.
Hiroshige’s image depicts Saruwaka-machi, a small area northeast of Buddhist temple Sensōji that was by the late Edo period firmly established as the city’s theater district. It was home not only to the three great kabuki playhouses of Edo—the Nakamura-za, Ichimura-za, and Morita-za (also known as the Kawarazaki-za)—but also major bunraku puppet theaters like the Satsuma-za and Yūki-za.