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A photo still of a performance at Awa Jurobe Yashiki. The puppeteers are holding two puppets, a mother and daughter, and the mother is tenderly holding the cheek of her daughter.

Daily Helping for June 28th, 2023 – Awa Jūrōbē Yashiki

Yes, I know it’s not June 28th, and yes, I know I missed yesterday’s posting. But I was very sick and felt like death, so what are you going to do? But I’m back and feel slightly less like death, so let’s talk about Awa Jūrōbē Yashiki. Because why not?

Awa Jūrōbē Yashiki is a traditional Japanese puppet theatre in Tokushima, Japan, and let’s just say that the moment I learned of its existence, it shot to the top of my “to visit” list. It’s both a museum and performance space, where you can learn about the traditional art of Bunraku, or puppet theatre, and then see an actual performance from the play Keisei Awa-no-Naruto.

It should probably go without saying at this point that I absolutely loved my visit to Awa Jūrōbē Yashiki. Just getting there was quite an adventure, as I had to take a special city bus for over half an hour to do so. At one point we started driving through rice paddies and I wondered if my route had gone horribly off track. But eventually I was dropped off right at the entrance to the museum, where I was greeted by a delightful guide who accompanied me through the building and explained the exhibits to me in English. It was amazing.

I then went into the theatre for the performance, and that was also incredible. Bunraku requires three puppeteers to operate each puppet, and they were accompanied by a live chanter and shamisen player. We didn’t see the whole play of Keisei Awa-no-Naruto, but rather a selected scene. But it was amazing all the same. I left the museum several hours later very happy and filled with wonder over what I had just seen. Between Awa Jūrōbē Yashiki and Awa Odori, I absolutely loved my time in Tokushima.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!