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September 25, 2022

Japanese traditional puppet theater at Odeon

Bucharest’s Odeon Theater is hosting November 30 a traditional Shinnai Joruri and Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Japanese traditional performance, where master puppeteers Tsuruga Wakasanojo XI and Nishikawa Koryu V will perform on stage, alongside other Japanese puppeteers and musicians in three plays representative of the classical genre: ‘Sanbaso’, ‘Rancho’ (Omiya’s Lament) and ‘Yaji and Kita’. On the same day, 11:00 am through 13:00 pm, the Japanese actors will have a workshop for the students and professors at the I.L. Caragiale Institute of Theatrical Art and Cinematography in Bucharest. Japanese traditional theater is a complex art form created by Master Koryu Nishikawa toward the end of the Edo period (half of the 19th century). Its name comes from rokuro-kuruma, the name of the roller stool on which the actor behind the puppet (ningyo) sits. This roller stool and the fact that each puppet is pulled by a single puppeteer are two details that set the Kuruma Ningyo theatrical genre apart from its better-known relative, Bunraku.

Shinnai is a type of narrative song (joruri) created by Tsuruga Wakasanojo I (1716-1786), at about 1760. The highlight of most of the shinnai songs is the stress the singer puts on expressing their emotion and less on the descriptive narrative. Nishikawa Koryu V is the fifth generation of master puppeteers specializing in Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo. He was born in the Nishikawa family, whose members were Kuruma Ningyo puppeteers. He got accustomed to this theatrical genre ever since a child. He acquired his first stage name at the age of 13. In 1996, he received the name of Nishikawa Koryu V, and in the same year, his artistic achievements were acknowledged by making his name part of the Japanese traditional folk culture heritage. In 2004, he was named Cultural Ambassador of the city of Hachioji. Tsuruga Wakasanojo XI is the 11th master in the Tsuruga School of the Shinnai genre. The performance at Odeon Theater is organized by the Embassy of Japan and the ‘Japan’ Foundation’ and it closes the series of cultural events organized in Bucharest under the Japan Danube Friendship Year 2009.

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