Traditionally, to view a performance of Awaji ningyo joruri, you would have to travel to Awaji Island, in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. However, this weekend, as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Washington and Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, Awaji-ningyo-za, or Awaji Ningyo Joruri Japanese Puppet Theatre, will be staging a production of “Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees” at ACT.
Awaji ningyo joruri is a traditional Japanese puppet theatre style, with a history of over 500 years. It’s also a precursor tradition to the better-known Bunraku puppet theater style. It is still performed today, in performances composed of three elements, including shamisen music and chanting along with puppeteering. The puppets are quite large – up to half life size – and are operated by three puppeteers at a time, to the accompaniment of shamisen music and chanted narration.
Awaji Island is located in Hyogo Prefecture; the performance will be presented by the Hyogo Business and Cultural Center, along with the Northwest Puppet Center, the Washington State Arts Alliance, and the Consulate General of Japan.