Global Conversations: Japanese Cart Puppetry: "Kuruma Ningyō"

by Illuminations: The Chancellor's Arts & Culture Initiative

Cultural Arts Theatre UCI Illuminations

Thu, Apr 7, 2022

5 PM – 6:30 PM PDT (GMT-7)

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Japan boasts a rich heritage of diverse forms of puppetry that include exquisitely crafted figures, unusual forms of manipulation, and poetic dramatic texts. Derived from bunraku, possibly the most known Japanese puppetry to the world, kuruma ningyō shares some similarities with bunraku but also has its unique features. In kuruma ningyō, or “cart puppetry,” performers, sitting on small, wheeled carts, bring fully articulated figures to life to act out both epic and domestic dramas. Kuruma ningyō was officially designated one of Japan’s national intangible folk cultural properties in 2021.

Nishikawa Koryū, a fifth-generation master of the kuruma ningyō and his son Nishikawa Ryūgyoku, through demonstrations and a close-up view of their puppets, introduce their unique puppetry tradition. Claudia Orenstein, professor at Hunter College, CUNY and specialist of Japanese puppetry, offers a short introduction placing kuruma ningyō within the greater landscape of puppetry arts in Japan.

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