Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki European Tour

Banner of Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki European Tour

The Japan Foundation and the Odawara Art Foundation proudly present the European tour of the Ningyo Joruri Bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre) performance “Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki” over a one-month period from September to October, 2013.

The new version of Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s highly acclaimed drama was premiered in August 2011 at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre. The piece is normally shortened from its original text by Chikamatsu due to production constraints, but this version—directed by visual artist Hiroshi Sugimoto with lyrical and musical accompaniment composed by Living National Treasure Seiji Tsurusawa—is a faithful reproduction of its original form, and has been highly praised by a number of audiences and critics in Japan.

The European tour, the first overseas performances of the work, will start in Madrid as part of the commemoration of the “400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations.” Celebrating the 400th year since the Keicho Delegates reached Europe and cultural exchange between Japan and Spain began, the piece will be shown at Madrid’s Teatro Español. After Madrid, the show will move to Rome and be performed as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Istituto Giapponese di Cultura in Rome, which opened in 1962 as the first Japan Culture Center to be founded abroad. The venue, the Teatro Argentina, is one of the most prestigious theatres in Rome, known as the venue of the premiere of Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville.” And finally, eleven performances will be given at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris as part of the main program during the Festival d'automne à Paris, a world-famous festival of the performing arts.

Working closely with other institutions and organizations, the Japan Foundation has been implementing a wide range of international and cultural exchange programs across all regions of the world, with its headquarters in Tokyo, a branch in Kyoto, two affiliate organizations (Japanese-Language Institutes in Urawa and Kansai), and 22 overseas offices established in 21 countries. The Japan Foundation acknowledges the long-term relationships with different institutions in these countries that have enabled this valuable opportunity to present such a creative and outstanding performing art to audiences in Europe at the above-mentioned historical, prestigious theatres.

 Dates: Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28, 2013 (2 shows)
 Venue: Teatro Español
 Dates: Friday, October 4 and Saturday, October 5, 2013 (2 shows)
 Venue: Teatro Argentina
 Dates: Thursday, October 10 to Saturday, October 19, 2013 (11 shows)
 Venue: Théâtre de la Ville

Organizers: The Japan Foundation, Odawara Art Foundation
Planning and production: Odawara Art Foundation
In cooperation with: The Japan Arts Council (The National Theatre of Japan/
The National Bunraku Theatre), and Bunraku-Kyokai
Supported by: Osaka Prefecture *, Osaka City *

*application being arranged

Tour Details

Performances in Madrid
Title of the performance: Sugimoto Bunraku: Sonezaki Shinju
(Los amantes suicidas de Sonezaki)
Organizers: The Japan Foundation, Odawara Art Foundation, Teatro Español
Co-organizer: Embassy of Japan in Spain
Sponsored by: Mitsubishi Corporation, Nippon Express Co., Boucheron Paris, CoSTUME NATIONAL
Venue: Teatro Español

[Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of Japan-Spain Relations]

Performances in Rome
Title of the performance: Sugimoto Bunraku: Sonezaki Shinju
Doppio suicidio d'amore a Sonezaki
Organizers: The Japan Foundation, Odawara Art Foundation, Teatro di Roma
Co-organizer: Embassy of Japan in Italy
Supported by: Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Italy
Sponsored by: Yoko Nagae Ceschina, Chizu Suzuki, H.I.S., Fuji Television Network, Inc., Alcantara S.p.A., Mitsukoshi Italia S.p.A., Bridgestone Technical Center Europe S.p.A., Shiseido, Alphanet s.r.l., m&m medeiaservices s.r.l., Miki Travel Agency Italia s.r.l., Viajes Hanshin S.a., YKK Mediterraneo S.p.A, Boucheron Paris, CoSTUME NATIONAL
Venue: Teatro Argentina

[Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Japan Cultural Institute in Rome & 400th anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic mission to Europe]

Performances in Paris
Title of the performance: Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju
Double suicide amoureux à Sonezaki
d’après Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Organizers: The Japan Foundation, Odawara Art Foundation
Sponsored by: Boucheron Paris, Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, Fondation Franco-Japonaise Sasakawa, Fondation pour l’étude de la langue et de la civilisation japonaises sous l’égide de la Fondation de France, CoSTUME NATIONAL, Shiseido Company, Limited
Co-production: Théâtre de la Ville, Festival d'automne à Paris
Supervisor: Emmanuelle de Montgazon
Venue: Théâtre de la Ville

For further details and updates, please visit the following website:

Production Details

Ningyo Joruri Bunraku Puppet Play
Sugimoto bunraku: Dekunobo irinasake Sonezaki shinju tsuketari Kannon meguri
 ("Kannon Pilgrimage" from The Love Suicide at Sonezaki)

Original Text:
Sonezaki shinju tsuketari Kannon meguri written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon
(from Shin-Nihon koten bungaku taikei, Iwanami Shoten Publishers)

Producer / (Artistic) Director: Hiroshi Sugimoto
Composer / Director: Tsurusawa Seiji
Choreography: Waka Yamamura
Video: Tabaimo, Hiroshi Sugimoto
Cast: Tsurusawa Seiji, Yoshida Minosuke, Kiritake Kanjuro and 24 others

The Background of Sonezaki Shinju

Author: Chikamatsu Monzaemon 
On April 7, 1703 (Genroku 16), Tokubei, a clerk to the soy sauce merchant Hirano-ya, and his lover Ohatsu, a courtesan from Dojima Shinchi, committed suicide together in the forest of Tenjin at the cape of Sone in Umeda. A month later, on May 7, 1703, this actual event was turned into a play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon entitled Sonezaki shinju tsuketari Kannon meguri, which premiered at the Takemotoza theatre in Osaka. The play was so successful that Takemotoza was able to repay all the debts it had at the time. Furthermore, Sonezaki shinju was the forerunner of the sewamono genre, which dramatized current events.

Artist Biography: Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto Born in Tokyo in 1948. After graduating from Saint Paul's University, he moved to the United States in 1970 and started his career with photography in New York in 1974. Sugimoto has received international reputation as a photographic artist through his solid technique and clear concept seen in the series such as Seascapes and Theaters, and his works are collected by major art museums throughout the world. In 2008, Sugimoto held a solo exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, entitled History of History, which consisted of both his own works and works from his collection of antiquities. In recent years he has been expanding his field of activity to literary and architectural work, and in 2008 he published his second title of essays, Utsutsu-na-zo (Shinchosha). The same year, he founded New Material Research Laboratory, and he was involved in the interior design and landscaping of the Izu Photo Museum, which opened in 2009. Most recently, he has designed the entrance space of oak omotesando in Tokyo, which is due to open on April 4, 2013. An appreciator of traditional arts, Sugimoto has also led the direction of the sanbaso production “Kami hisomi iki” in 2011, was presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in March 2013 and once again in Tokyo in April 2013.
His works have won many awards, including the Mainichi Art Prize in 1988, the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 2001, and the 21st Praemium Imperiale in 2009.

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The Japan Foundation
Europe, Middle East and Africa Section, Arts and Culture Dept.
Person in charge: Ms. Kitagawa E-mail
Tel: +81-(0)3-5369-6063

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