Step aside noh and kabuki, and make way for the Metropolitan Opera, Zubin Mehta and "42nd Street."

Those familiar names in such Western culture capitals as London and New York are finding homes in Tokyo."Japanese people are internationalizing," said theater critic Kenichiro Shirahama. "From the destruction of war, the country has rebuilt itself and now become a glittering show business market."

The lineup of summer goodies lends weight to the claim, with Rudolf Nureyev, La Scala and the New York City Ballet among the many heavyweights bound for Tokyo to appease local hunger pangs for foreign theater.

"It's `event heaven' here," said Shirahama, who has also published several books on Japanese theater.

For star performers, a Tokyo engagement usually is more than just stage appearances. Many are given plum TV spots plugging sponsor products in their contracts.

"We even get requests from foreign artists to sponsor them in Tokyo," said Norio Takahashi of the Japan Performing Arts Corp. "They've recognized the clout Japan holds and the need to succeed here."

For giant corporations, doubling as sponsors for the eager artists "is a way of polishing the company name," Takahashi said, though they rarely make profits because of the astronomical costs and heavy taxes involved.