The performing arts in Osaka were born in the 17th century during an era of relative peace and prosperity for the city. Bunraku (puppets and storytelling) in Osaka hails back to 1684, when the first bunraku theater was founded in the city. Performances of this type are held many times throughout the year at the National Bunraku Theatre in Osaka. English earphones are available.

Kabuki theatre is the highly stylized form of theatre that many are familiar with, a type of Japanese opera. This type of dramatic theatre incorporates precise, stylized song and dance and elaborate make-up. Originally, casts were made up strictly of men (hence the make-up), but women's troupes have been doing kabuki since after World War Two. The Osaka Shochiku-za Theatre is near Namba Station in Osaka.

Noh is a musical-drama form that's been around since the 14th century and involves the use of masked performers, who act out a narrated or sung story. Movement is geared to portray emotions rather than the face, which is covered.

The performing arts in Japan are not just about ancient or traditional art forms, though. Osaka's Theatre BRAVA offers drama, dance, opera, concerts, and modern Noh plays. Just outside Osaka in Takarazuka city on the Hankyu train line is the Takarazuka Review, a Broadway style song and dance show going since 1914, whose unique feature is that all the performers are women.