enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


How crazy, Japanese Puppet Theatre!


Welcome to the Exhibition

   Japan’s ‘Modern Puppet Theatre’, which is said to have begun in the 1920s, was spearheaded by young performers who aimed for an excessive, radical form of expression. However, during World War II, it was also utilised as a tool for indoctrination. Later, at the dawn of the television age, this form of theatre provided much of the main content of TV shows, and as a result masterpieces such as ‘Chirorin-mura to Kurumi-no-Ki (Chirorin Village and the Walnut Tree)’ and ‘Hyokkori Hyotan Jima (Hyokkori Hyotan Island)’ were born. Due to these shows as well as traveling performances held at schools and other venues, the puppet theatre became established as one of the most influential forms of media. In spite of the circumstances within which the puppet theatre existed after we entered the 21st century, puppet theatre festivals continued throughout the country. However, in addition, efforts were made to develop them and expand their potential in a variety of ways. One example is international exchange efforts that utilise the puppet theatre.
   What is it that is so captivating about the puppet theatre?
   It would be difficult to answer this question with a single explanation, but the modern puppet theatre – which is extremely cute and ‘cool’ while at the same time somewhat ‘dangerous’ – is portrayed in this exhibition first and foremost using the adjective ‘awesome’. Although limited by the constraints of space, the exhibition is unable to carefully trace the history and delve deeply into each individual matter. In spite of this, however, there are approximately 40 items on display, including priceless actual dolls and related materials. By presenting the background and embedded messages that are available only through viewing these dolls, we hope to explore their ‘awesome’ appeal.