The Edo Marionette Theatre YOUKIZA was founded by Youki Magosaburo I in 1635. Headed today by Magosaburo XII, the company en joys a history of over 380 years, making it the oldest traditional marionette theatre in Japan. In 1956, the Youkiza was designated a Tokyo Metropolitan Area Intangible Cultural Property. It also received the honor of being selected an Intangible Folk-cultural Property of Japan in 1995. Since then, the achievements of Youkiza and the late Youki Sessai, have won critical recognition, winning Youkiza the Arts Festival Ministry of Education Award, the Tokyo Governor’ s Award, and others.
The Lion Dance is one of the oldest performances of the Youkiza and is carried on as a precious heritage. As lions are said to roar away evil, the dance is considered to draw good luck and is often performed at New Year’ s and festivals. One attraction of the show is in the comicality of puppeteers looking out of the lion during the dance.
Senninzuka Memorial Mound
This Meiji period play is based on an Edo period comic story. It is full of comedic action and dialogue that can be enjoyed by both adults and children.
In the gidayu-style string puppetry in the Edo period, puppet manipulation and narration were handled by separate types of performers, puppeteers and narrators. In the Meiji era, Youki Magosaburo IX established a new style called “Improved kabuki style string puppetry” whereby the puppeteer delivers the puppet’ s lines. In modern times, what seems natural was a groundbreaking innovation in classic puppetry. The collaboration of Youkiza and rakugo has been popular for over 100 years and Youkiza continues to perform marionette plays based on original rakugo stories.
The Youkiza has created various devices and techniques for its puppetry in its long history. One of them is the “bone gathering” displayed in Senninzuka Memorial Mound. The gathering and separating of the bones
of the head, arms, and legs of a dancing skeleton featured in the play surprises and delights the viewer.
An explanation of how to handle puppets
The YOUKIZA marionettes have a history of going back 380 years.
We will explain the structure of our puppets, which are the Epitome of the Edo period knowledge and skills, and demonstrate puppet manipulation.
We hope to ignite your interest in the fascinating world of puppetry.
Post-performance Puppet Workshop
Participants are invited on stage to experience puppet manipulation. Handmade, the YOUKIZA marionettes are all different and full of individual character.
By holding the control board and working the strings, you will “come to grips” with the Edo artists’ knowledge and inventiveness packed in the puppets.
Edo string puppet Control board (Teita) and structure of the puppet
The puppet is 60 to 80cm tall with 16 to 17 basic strings.
The control board or TEITA is square with two movable bars built in. This shape is particular to Japan. Usually one puppeteer handles one puppet. The male puppet has a sturdy torso called HAKODO. The female puppet has a soft flexible structure called CHOCHINDO with legs that extend down only to the knee. Her walk is expressed through fluttering her kimono hem.
Since the Meiji period, Youkiza’ s improved performance style of puppeteers appearing on stage and delivering lines while manipulating puppets has been called “new Kabuki style string puppetry” .
1 5/27(Mon)3:00pm – 4:30pm
2 5/27(Mon)7:00pm – 8:30pm
3 6/15(Sat) 7:00pm – 8:30pm
4 6/16(Sun)11:00am – 12:30pm
5 6/16(Sun) 2:00pm – 3:30pm