Shinnai Joruri and Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Tour in Eastern Europe and Greece

Shinnai Joruri and Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Tour in Eastern Europe and Greece"Funky" JAZZ in South America

The Japan Foundation organizes performances and workshops of “Shinnai Joruri and Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo” let by Mr. Tsuruga Wakasanojo XI (headmaster of Tsuruga School of Shinnai Narrative Song) and Mr. Nishikawa Koryu V (headmaster of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo) in five cities in five countries: Slovakia, Hungary, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria. This project commemorates the Japan-Danube Friendship Year and the 110th Anniversary of Greece-Japan Friendly Ties 2009.

Shinnai JoruriShinnai is a style of narrative singing, or joruri that traces its origin to the early 1700s.
The first Tsuruga Wakasanojo began composing and performing narrative songs in the 1770s, and his style of music became widely popular through the exceptionally passionate performances of his apprentice Tsuruga Shinnai, whose name later became synonymous with the genre. The intensely emotional and often tragic stories of Shinnai repertoire captured the popular urban lifestyle of the capital city of Edo and the culture of the vibrant pleasure quarters.

Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo is a form of puppet theatre created by the first Koryu Nishikawa around the end of the Edo period. It is called Kuruma Ningyo because the puppeteer sits on a small seat with roller wheels (rokuro-kuruma) and operates the puppet (ningyo). This small seat, and the fact that only one person is needed to operate one puppet, distinguishes Kuruma Ningyo from Bunraku, in which three people are needed to operate each puppet. This one-to-one relationship allows great flexibility and realism as the puppet and the puppeteer move in unison. With such advantages of Kuruma Ningyo, the troupe of Nishikawa Koryu has been active in collaboration with other performance artists. 

This tour will visit countries where puppet theaters are very popular as entertainment for children. Performances in this tour will introduce to the audience of these countries the theater of narratives and puppets for adults. In addition, workshops will be opportunities for people in theater arts in each country to encounter with Japanese traditional theaters. 

Dates: Friday, November 20 through Thursday, December 3, 2009

Slovakia: Performance
Date: Friday, November 20, 2009 at 19:00
Venue: DPOH (Divadlo Pavol Orszagh Hviezdoslav) Theatre (Bratislava)
Organized by The Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Slovakia, Bratislava Culture and Information Centre
In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Slovakia
Admission fee: Category Ⅰ: 7 EUR, Category Ⅱ: 5 EUR

Date: Thursday, November 19. 2009 from 9:30 to 11:30; from 13:30 to 15:30
Venue: Slovakia Academy of Performing Arts (Bratislava)

Hungary: Performance
Date: Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 19:00; Monday, November 23 at 19:00
Venue: Central Theatre (Central Szinhaz) (Budapest)
Organized by : The Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Hungary, Central Theatre
Admission fee: 3,200, 2,500, 2,000, or 1,500 HUF Workshop
Date: Monday, November 23, 2009 from 12:00 to 15:00
Venue: Central Theatre (Central Szinhaz) (Budapest)
Greece: Performance
Date: Friday, November 27, 2009 at 20:30
Venue: The Nicos Skalkotas Hall, Megaron, The Athens Concert Hall
Organized by : The Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Greece, The Athens Concert Hall
Admission fee: Category Ⅰ: 35 EUR, Category Ⅱ: 22 EUR, Student: 8 EUR
Romania: Performance
Date: Monday, November 30, 2009 at 19:00
Venue: The Odeon Theatre (Bucharest)
Organized by The Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Romania, The Odeon Theatre
Admission fee: Category Ⅰ: 21.20 RON, Category Ⅱ: 11.72 RON Workshop
Date: Monday, November 30, 2009 from 11:00 to 13:00
Venue: National University of Film and Drama (Bucharest)
Bulgaria: Performance
Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 19:00
Venue: National Theatre “Ivan Vazov” (Sofia)
Organized by The Japan Foundation, Embassy of Japan in Bulgaria, National Theatre “Ivan Vazov”
Admission free

Date: Thursday, December 3, 2009
Venue: National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts (Sofia)


Kuruma Ningyo “Sanbaso”
Shinnai “Rancho”
Shinnai and Kuruma Ningyo “Yaji and Kita”

  • Stage photograph of Sanbaso

    "Celebratory Sanbaso"

  • Stage photograph of Yaji and Kita

    "Yaji and Kita"


Tsuruga Wakasanojo XI – Headmaster, Tsuruga School of Shinnai Narrative Song

Tsuruga Wakasanojo XIBorn in Kagurazaka, Tokyo, Tsuruga Wakasanojo XI studied Shinnai-style musical storytelling with his father, Tsuruga Isetayu. He received his first stage name Isejitayu in 1958, succeeded to his father’s name Isetayu in 1973 and finally in 2000 became the 11th holder of the name Tsuruga Wakasanojo, the premier professional name in the Shinnai world. As president of the Shinnai Association of Japan, he is active in educational and promotional activities for the preservation and future vitality of the Shinnai art form.

Through innovative collaborations with Kuruma Ningyo puppetry, Noh, and dance, he has tirelessly pursued his goal of further making Shinnai enjoyable to the eyes as well as the ears. He has performed overseas in more than thirty cities in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He was designated by the Japanese Ministry of Culture a Living National Treasure in 2001.

Nishikawa Koryu V - Headmaster, Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo

Nishikawa Koryu VNishikawa Koryu V is the headmaster of traditional puppetry “Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo”, Japan’s National Intangible Folk Custom Cultural Asset with the history of over 160 years. He studied puppetry from his childhood under his grandfather (third-generation) and father (fourth-generation), and later studied three-puppeteer Bunraku puppetry at the National Theatre Bunraku study center. 
In addition to his regular stages in Hachioji, he performs on the stages throughout Japan. He also engages in activities to preserve traditional puppetry in Japan by instructing many puppet theaters and organizing “Passing Traditional Puppetry to Next Generation” since 1995.  
Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo has also been well received overseas. In 1987, Nishikawa Koryu V taught Kuruma Ningyo at the Marionette Theatre Institute in Sweden. For their performance in South America (Brazil, Chili, and Uruguay) organized by the Japan Foundation in 2000, they received Florencio Award (Best Foreign Play) in the International Festival of Theater in Uruguay.
Nishikawa Koryu V was named by Hachioji City as Cultural Ambassador in 2004 and was awarded by the city for cultural merit in 2006.

[Contact Us]

Performing Arts Section, Arts and Culture Department, The Japan Foundation
Akiko Kawano (Ms.)
Tel: 03-5369-6063 Fax: 03-5369-6038

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