Apr 1 & Apr 2

Japanese Masters

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Photo by: Ayumi Sakamoto

A Kuruma Ningyo Performance

Performance Dates

Apr 1 & Apr 2

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About the Artists

Master Class


Ages 8+

Member tickets on sale February 17, 12pm

Tickets on sale to the general public February 24, 12pm

Enjoy an exciting and unique performance of Japanese puppetry like nothing you have seen before.The Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta, the Japan-America Society of Georgia (JASG), the Yara Arts Group, and the Center for Puppetry Arts are proud to present a beautiful Japanese puppetry tradition rarely seen in the U.S. Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo is a 160 year old puppet company led by fifth generation Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V.   In this special, family-friendly performance, Koryu Nishikawa V and his company perform short traditional and contemporary puppetry pieces in the Kuruma Ningyo style, in which a single puppeteer sits on a small rolling cart and operates the head, arms and legs of an exquisitely carved figure.  As part of the evening, the puppetry technique is demonstrated to the audience and musician Chieko Hara explains how the 3-stringed shamisen instrument complements the puppetry.  A must-see event for anyone interested in puppetry or Japanese culture.  Introduced and moderated by American puppet artist Tom Lee.

About the Artists

Koryu Nishikawa V is the fifth generation headmaster of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo (Cart puppetry company of Japan), a 160 year-old puppet theatre and an Intangible Folk Custom Cultural Asset of the Japanese government.  Trained by his father and grandfather in the Kuruma Ningyo style, Koryu Nishikawa V was also a student at the National Bunraku Theatre, Japan’s most famous puppet theatre.  His company has performed all over the world in over 40 countries.

 Chieko Hara, is a Japanese traditional musician specializing in koto, shamisen and Japanese flute.  Ms. Hara is a graduate of the Japanese Music Department of the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, now Tokyo University of the Arts.  She composed the score for Shank’s Mare, in collaboration with American composer and hammered dulcimer player Bill Ruyle.

Ryukumi Nishikawa is a Japanese puppeteer and member of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo. As a female performer of traditional and contemporary puppetry, she is especially unique in the Japanese puppetry community.   She has toured extensively internationally, appeared on Japanese national television and performed with puppet theater POOK for over 14 years.

Tom Lee is a theatre designer and director based in New York & Chicago who specializes in Asian-inspired forms of puppet theater combined with technology.  He met Koryu Nishikawa V over a decade ago in Japan and became his student.  Together they created Shank’s Mare, a collaborative puppet piece combining traditional Kuruma Ningyo, video projection and contemporary puppetry techniques.  Shank’s Mare won the 2016 Arlyn Award for Outstanding Puppet Theatre Design and is now on tour in the US.  www.tomleeprojects.com


Master Class

Ningyo & Ningyōzuka:
a Master Class in Japanese Puppetry

April 3, 6:30pm-9:30pm
Cost: $40 | Capacity: 18 | Level: Advanced (must apply) | Ages 18+

Visiting puppet artists Tom Lee (War Horse, Madama Butterfly) and Koryu Nishikawa V (Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo, Cart Puppetry Company of Japan) conduct a special workshop exploring Japanese traditional puppetry techniques that have had an enormous influence on world puppetry performance.  Mr. Nishikawa, a fifth generation Japanese Master Puppeteer, will illustrate and explain his unique tradition called kuruma ningyo or cart puppetry.  In addition, he will demonstrate and explain the principles behind traditional sannin zukkai (three person puppetry), the foundation of the Bunraku tradition. Participants will have a hands-on opportunity to handle traditional Japanese puppets and draw back the curtain on how these beautiful puppets are brought to life through skillful puppetry technique.

Japanese musician Chieko Hara will also demonstrate the unique role of traditional instruments in Japanese puppetry and how her music “speaks” to American composer Bill Ruyle in the production of Shank’s Mare.  This rare and exciting opportunity will also include traditional Japanese puppeteer Ryukumi Nishikawa. 

For information please contact us at education@puppet.org.