Peek Behind the Scenes of a Traditional Art
See puppets come to life in a stunning show combining drama, music, and artisanship
On Awaji Island, located in the Seto Inland Sea, the traditional puppet theater of Ningyo-Joruri has delighted audiences young and old for over four centuries. Today, you can enjoy Ningyo-Joruri at the Awaji Ningyo-za, a theater overlooking Fukura Bay on the southern tip of Hyogo Prefecture’s Awaji Island. Multilingual audio guides and pamphlets make this fascinating performance accessible to people from across the world.
Awaji Ningyo-Joruri is a National Intangible Cultural Property of Japan. Each 45-minute show features a narrator who chants a story enacted by the puppets to the accompaniment of shamisen music. From the rise and fall of the narrator’s vocals to the plaintive strains of the shamisen, every aspect of this dynamic performance art engages the senses. Backstage tours are available for visitors who would like to see the puppets up close.
Among the performers at Awaji Ningyo-za is shamisen player Maestra Tsurusawa Tomoji, a “living national treasure.” A monument dedicated to her life stands just outside the theater.
Awaji Ningyo-za Theater
1528-1 Fukurako, Minamiawaji-shi, Hyogo-ken
about 45 minutes