Event Details
Awa Ningyo Joruri Performance: Japanese Drama performed by professional puppeteers from Tokushima Prefecture
Performance Featured Event

Awa Ningyo Joruri Performance: Japanese Drama performed by professional puppeteers from Tokushima Prefecture

June 25, 2023
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Join us for this 90 minute program including an explanation and a video of Awa Ningyo Joruri,  a demonstration and hands-ons experience of how to operate the large puppets, and the performance of "Keisei Awa no Naruto, The Scene of the Pilgrim’s Song"

Ningyo / Narutoza Puppet Theater

Narutoza Puppet Theater was formed in 1980, when its founding director Kobayashi Shunsei, his family, and six other friends joined together to create the troupe, occasioned by the receipt of two puppet heads that had been carved by the master Oe Minosuke IV, a native of Naruto City who had created most of the puppet heads that were used by the Osaka Bunraku Puppet Theater after their puppets and equipment had been destroyed during the War. The two puppets that Narutoza received were Oyumi and Otsuru, the mother and daughter characters in the play Keisei Awa no Naruto. Starting with performances at local schools in Naruto, the troupe collaborated with children’s organizations to produce pieces that were performed at the Otsuka Art Museum. They also performed at the grand opening of the outdoor stage at the Bart Garden theme park and at Nishinomiya Shrine in Hyogo Prefecture, among others, always seeking to convey the charm of traditional Awa puppetry to audiences within and without Tokushima Prefecture. Currently, puppeteers ranging in age from their 30s through their 70s perform with Naruto Puppet Theater under the leadership of the third director, Murakami Kyoko.

“The Scene of the Pilgrim’s Song”

Embroiled in the turmoil of the struggle for dominance within the Tokushima domain, Awa no Jurobei and his wife Oyumi change their names and go undercover to become thieves and live in Tamatsukuri in Osaka with the aim of recovering the stolen heirloom sword that belongs to the lord of their domain.

Now several years later, their nine-year-old daughter Otsuru, clad as a pilgrim on the Saikoku circuit of Buddhist temples dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy Kannon, whom the parents had left behind in her grandmother’s care as an infant, calls on the house unaware that it is her parents’ home. Oyumi realizes that that girl is her own child, but does not reveal her identity to her daughter for fear that the now-brewing legal troubles that she and her husband will soon face could bring disaster upon the girl as well. Stifling her tears, Oyumi sends the girl on her way, but as she listens to the departing girl singing a pilgrim’s song about the love of parent and child, the distraught mother cannot keep herself from following after the girl to bring her back. The scene ends with the heart-rending sight of Oyumi, unable to suppress her motherly compassion.]