Apr 1 & Apr 2

Japanese Masters

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Photo by: Ayumi Sakamoto

A Kuruma Ningyo Performance


About the Artisits


Ages 8+

Member tickets on sale February 17, 12pm

Tickets on sale to the general public February 24, 12pm

Enjoy an exciting and unique performance of Japanese puppetry like nothing you have seen before.  Yara Arts Group and the Center for Puppetry Arts present a beautiful Japanese puppetry tradition rarely seen in the U.S.  Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo is a 160 year old puppet company led by fifth generation Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V.   In this special, family-friendly performance, Koryu Nishikawa V and his company perform short traditional and contemporary puppetry pieces in the Kuruma Ningyo style, in which a single puppeteer sits on a small rolling cart and operates the head, arms and legs of an exquisitely carved figure.  As part of the evening, the puppetry technique is demonstrated to the audience and musician Chieko Hara explains how the 3-stringed shamisen instrument complements the puppetry.  A must-see event for anyone interested in puppetry or Japanese culture.  Introduced and moderated by American puppet artist Tom Lee.

Special Activities

Koryu Nishikawa V is the fifth generation headmaster of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo (Cart puppetry company of Japan), a 160 year-old puppet theatre and an Intangible Folk Custom Cultural Asset of the Japanese government.  Trained by his father and grandfather in the Kuruma Ningyo style, Koryu Nishikawa V was also a student at the National Bunraku Theatre, Japan’s most famous puppet theatre.  His company has performed all over the world in over 40 countries.

 Chieko Hara, is a Japanese traditional musician specializing in koto, shamisen and Japanese flute.  Ms. Hara is a graduate of the Japanese Music Department of the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, now Tokyo University of the Arts.  She composed the score for Shank’s Mare, in collaboration with American composer and hammered dulcimer player Bill Ruyle.

Ryukumi Nishikawa is a Japanese puppeteer and member of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo. As a female performer of traditional and contemporary puppetry, she is especially unique in the Japanese puppetry community.   She has toured extensively internationally, appeared on Japanese national television and performed with puppet theater POOK for over 14 years.

Tom Lee is a theatre designer and director based in New York & Chicago who specializes in Asian-inspired forms of puppet theater combined with technology.  He met Koryu Nishikawa V over a decade ago in Japan and became his student.  Together they created Shank’s Mare, a collaborative puppet piece combining traditional Kuruma Ningyo, video projection and contemporary puppetry techniques.  Shank’s Mare won the 2016 Arlyn Award for Outstanding Puppet Theatre Design and is now on tour in the US.  www.tomleeprojects.com