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Yamanaka-za Theater 山中座、山中芸妓

Enjoy geisha performances of Yamanaka Onsen’s famous folk song

Yamanaka-za is a theater in the main square of Yamanaka Onsen, a hot-spring village. The theater is dedicated to preserving Yamanaka-bushi, Yamanaka Onsen’s iconic folk song. Geisha perform Yamanaka-bushi at the theater on weekends and national holidays. On weekdays, Yamanaka-za hosts more intimate performances in which visitors can play traditional games with geisha.

Yamanaka Onsen is famous for its lacquerware production, and the grand interior of Yamanaka-za is decorated with highly detailed lacquer motifs. Colorful silver and gold maki-e paintings depicting scenes from local festivals and the history of the hot-spring town decorate the ceiling.

The village was a popular relaxation destination for sailors of kitamaebune merchant ships in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Yamanaka-bushi originated when local women gathered outside of the public bathhouse attached to the theater created their own versions of the sailors’ shanties.

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