SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Masuda String Puppets

THIS EVENT IS ARCHIVED
IMG - Masuda String Puppet

Date: 16 November 2017Time: 6:15 PM

Finishes: 16 November 2017Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: DLT

Type of Event: Performance

Summary

Masuda String Puppeteers are designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture. Their theatre resides within the Grand Toit theatre in Masuda City, located in south-western Shimane Prefecture on the Japan Sea side. The puppets are worked from above held by as many as 18 strings for each puppet.

Mr Shin’ichi Iida (Minister, Japanese Embassy) will introduce the evening
Professor Andrew Gerstle (SOAS) will introduce the plays

Three short pieces will be performed:

1. ‘Kotobuki Sanbaso’ – Celebratory dance

2. 'Junreiuta-no-dan' from Keisei Awa-no-Naruto ('Pilgrim Song' Scene, the mother-daughter reunion)

3. ‘Yamamoto-Ichiryu Shishi-no-ikkyoku’  (Lion Dance by Sankichi Yamamoto) 

A Drinks Reception will follow the performance in the foyer, and include a DVD screening of the puppeteers' performance at Grand Toit Theatre in Masuda City.

Sponsored by SOAS, Toshiba International Foundation, Shimane Prefecture, SISJAC and ANA.

Registration

This event is free and open to all but registration is essential to guarantee a place. Register here

Masuda City's String Puppet Theatre

Masuda String Puppeteers are designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture. Their theatre resides within the Grand Toit theatre in Masuda City, located in south-western Shimane Prefecture on the Japan Sea side. The puppets are worked from above held by as many as 18 strings for each puppet.

Ningyo-Joruri, Puppet-theatre, is more widely known in Japan as Bunraku operated by black-constumed handlers, not by strings.  Although the number of string puppeteer groups in Japan is now small, Ningyo-Joruri string puppetry still survives.  Masuda String Puppeteers’ style is the only surviving original Japanese string puppetry currently performed in an unbroken tradition from the Edo period.  It is therefore different from those revived styles of Tokyo’s Yuuki-za and Takeda-za theatres.  The Masuda troupe currently holds four annual programmes in Masuda, and have performed around Japan. In London they performed in 2016 at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

History of Japanese String Puppetry

‘Ito-Ayatsuri’, Japanese string puppetry started around 1561 in theatres in Edo (Tokyo), Kyoto and Osaka after it was introduced from China. The style and format were established by the mid-17th century. String Puppets were 78.5 cm tall and the number of strings per puppet around 17.  Although small scale compared to other Japanese performing arts, it was continued by the Yoshidas in Osaka and by the Yamamotos and the Tobayas in Tokyo.  It was also introduced to some provinces.

In the late 19th century in the mid-Meiji Era an English puppeteer Dark and his troupe brought western-style puppets to Japan.  This influenced puppet size which was reduced to a smaller 51.5 cm. However, 9th Yuki Magosaburo’s of Japanese puppet theatre won out in popularity over the western puppeteer. Magosaburo is said to be the founder of the current Japanese string-puppetry format. His successor in Tokyo is designated as Tokyo’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

History of Masuda Puppeteers

The Tokyo-based Yamamoto Sankichi (one of the Yamamoto performers mentioned above) brought his troupe to Masuda around 1887, after facing the decline of popularity for puppet theatre in Tokyo. Masuda’s Joruri  performing group ‘Komatsuren’ welcomed Yamamoto and formed the Masuda Puppeteers to carry on Yamamoto’s tradition.

Masuda Puppet troupe consists of:

Puppeteers
Tayu (narrator)
Shamisen (three-stringed Japanese guitar-like instrument)
Koken (backstage assistant)
Puppets (70cm with strings varying from 13 to 18 strings per puppet)

 

Contact email: centres@soas.ac.uk

Sponsor: SOAS, Toshiba International Foundation, Shimane Prefecture, SISJAC and ANA.