Charming tales from the land of rising sun

Blending with the background, dressed in black they sported colourful puppets as headgears, props and placards, presenting two puppet theatre acts, Yagi No Ohanashi and Urashima, to a houseful of audience.

Comprising children in majority, the audience indulged in bouts of laughter and amazement as the fantastical acts unraveled on the stage in Chinmaya Mission, recently. Speaking to Metrolife, the Japanese duo, Satoko Yumidate and Hiroyuki Kuwahara, from puppet theatre group Yumemi Trunk shared their experience.

A young Japanese-style painter, Emi Hiramatsu gave form to the story ‘Yogi No Ohanashi’ or the story of a goat which was later developed into a puppet show by the duo. Sharing her take on the first act of the evening, Satoko says, “It is up to each individual on how they comprehend it. But as per our version, the white goat, the main character, is on an adventurous journey. Every time it faces a different colour, it gets influenced and changes hues throughout. At last, it understands that it is a white goat, and that is its original identity.”

In terms of production design, the second act, Urashima was much more elaborate. A gate-shaped prop, which sounded like a chime featured significantly in this act. Explaining its role, the duo says, “That tinkling prop was made out of waste. It is just another creative instrument built specifically for this production. It collapses with the fall of Urashima Taro (the protagonist fisherman), and it represents the fall of today’s society.”

Flushed with enthusiasm over their first performance in India, the duo said, “It is the first time we have come here and the audience response has been very friendly and encouraging for us.” As they headed to their performance in Udaipur and Kathmandu, Satoko almost jumped up with joy and mentioned, “I am really looking forward to Udaipur.

I have heard a lot about Indian stringed puppetry but never had the opportunity to witness it.” Sensing her excitement at the mere mention of Indian puppetry, Metrolife assured her that Udaipur would definitely offer her a spectacle of Indian puppetry.

Contrasting Indian puppetry that derives from folklore to Japenese no-strings-attached puppet theatre, Metrolife asked the duo why they chose to present Urashima, particularly? “We do not necessarily perform only Japanese fables. But it wouldn’t be wrong to say that these stories help us truly express ourselves,” says the
duo earnestly. 

The performer Hiroyuki Kuwahara won ‘best actor award in ‘World Puppet Carnival Indonesia 2013’for the same act in Jakarta earlier this year.

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