Enjoy Noh, Kyogen, Nihon Buyo and More at New Theater-Style Restaurant “Suigian”
Suigian’s central stage. The traditional pine tree on the rear panel was painted by an artist of the Kano school in the Edo period (1603–1868).
As well-known as the the traditional Japanese performing arts are, actually seeing them on-stage is a rare event even for most Japanese people. The practical barriers to becoming a regular theatergoer can seem high, even intimidating. Suigian, a new theater-style restaurant and lounge which opened in Tokyo early this year, aims to solve this problem.
Located on the ground floor of a mall next to Fukutoku Shrine in the Nihonbashi area, where redevelopment is proceeding apace, Suigian offers visitors an experience that combines performances of Noh, Kyogen, Nihon Buyo, and other arts with the finest Japanese cuisine, including sushi, sake, and traditional confectionery.
Suigian is the brainchild of artist Hidetomo Kimura. Known as the producer of projects such as “Edo-Sakura Renaissance,” which brought traditional Japanese artisanship into the realm of modern art, Kimura also created the Art Aquarium Kingyo (goldfish) Series, which features underwater Japanese-style art on the theme of goldfish and has attracted 8.1 million visitors so far. As his engagement with Japanese culture deepened, Kimura became more determined to share the appeal of the country’s traditional crafts, industry, and performance in a new way, and Suigian is the result.
The space at Suigian is dominated by a central stage. On the eve of the official opening day, this stage hosted a performance by Kyogen actor Mansai Nomura and his troupe of “Sanbaso,” a classic work traditionally used to celebrate the opening of a new venue or theater season. For two weeks after the opening, Suigian hosted the extravagant Opening Premium Weeks, during which a dazzling array of artists representing the various schools of Noh, Kyogen and Kyoto Buyo took the stage. Today, there are four performances daily. Patrons can enjoy a cup of tea with the show itself, then relax over lunch, tea, or dinner afterwards. Lounge time begins at 8:30 p.m. and features light refreshments and dances by geisha.
Suigian has 56 seats in all, including sofas, table seating, and counter stools. Meals and refreshments include sushi from Sushiei, Japan’s oldest Edo-style sushi restaurant; tea from Fukujuen, a Kyoto establishment with 200 years of history; and sweets from long-established Kyoto confectionery brands Oimatsu and Kamesuehiro. Drinks including Japanese wine, sake, and whiskey are also available.
“My goal is to make it easier for more people from both inside and outside Japan to approach the traditional Japanese performing arts,” says Kimura. Suigian might be just the entry point to this world that many people need.
Address: B1F, 2-5-10, Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo, Tokyo
Telephone: +81 (0)3-3527-9378 (phone answered 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., except New Year’s Day and other holidays)
Opening hours: 11:30 a.m.–12:00 midnight
Lunch: 6,500–12,000 JPY
Afternoon tea: 6,500–12,000 JPY
Dinner: 9,000–15,000 JPY (per person, including tax)
* Price of entry includes only one show
* Each performance is around 20 minutes long
* Drinks other than those on the set menu incur an additional charge
* Reservation required for lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner
* No reservation required for lounge time (8:30 p.m. to 12:00 midnight)