Japanese traditional cart puppetry company to make Hong Kong debut in mid-June

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    4th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has invited the Koryu Nishikawa Troupe, a Japanese traditional cart puppetry company, to make their Hong Kong debut in mid-June. The troupe will stage three puppetry performances of “Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo“, showcasing the important intangible folk cultural property passed down since the late Edo period to Hong Kong audiences.

    Unlike traditional bunraku-style puppetry, Kuruma Ningyo requires only one puppeteer who sits on a kuruma (cart) and controls the puppet with their own hands and feet in smooth and detailed movements. The Koryu Nishikawa Troupe, located in Hachioji, Tokyo, was established 150 years ago. Its founder created the puppetry performance form of “Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo”, which has played an important role in the transition of Japanese puppet theatre and has been designated as an “Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property” in 2022 by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan.

    The troupe will present three plays of traditional theatre repertoire of Japanese folk customs in Hong Kong. The opening performance, “Sanbaso”, will feature a series of traditional dances for a good harvest and peace as well as success on the stage. “Tsurionna” tells the story of a daimyo and his servant who visit a Shinto shrine to pray for a good match. In their dreams, they are given a fishing rod, which brings a surprise to everyone. As the finale of the programme, “Yajisan and Kitasan” (Excerpts) will lead audiences on a mysterious journey, as they take a trip to Kyoto and encounter all kinds of strange things when they walk near a graveyard.

    The performances of “Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo” by the Koryu Nishikawa Troupe will be held at the Theatre of Hong Kong City Hall on 16th June and 17th June at 8pm and on 18th June at 3pm. The performances will be in Japanese with Chinese and English surtitles. Each performance will run about one and a half hours with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets priced at $280 and $380 are available at URBTIX, and for telephone bookings, call 3166 1288. For program enquiries and concessionary schemes, call 2268 7323 or visit www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/Programme/en/multi_arts/programs_1499.html.

    In addition, a workshop will be organized in which the puppeteers of the troupe will introduce the history, puppet parts, and control techniques of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo. Participants can also experience the fun of controlling the puppets. The workshop will be conducted in Japanese and Cantonese and will be held on June 18 at 11am at the Theatre of Hong Kong City Hall. Tickets priced at $150 are available at URBTIX. For details, please refer to the above-mentioned website.