Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Bunraku and Beyond: The Evolving Tradition of Japanese Puppet Theater

September 23, 2021 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Traditional Art in Modern Japan Series Event


Join us for an upcoming special program about Bunraku, a form of traditional Japanese puppet theatre. Our speaker for the program will be Martin Holman, a literary translator, professor, puppeteer, and puppet theater director. Through the stories and music of the puppet theater, the presentation will include a brief history of Japanese puppetry, from its religious origins through the commercial enterprise of Bunraku.

Tune in to watch live from the Awa Jurobe Yashiki Puppet Theater and Museum in the Tokushima Prefecture–home of more traditional puppet troupes and theaters than anywhere else in Japan! The program will include an introduction to the history of the traditional Japanese puppet theater, as well as a close up look at the construction and manipulation techniques of the puppets and the wide variety of puppets used. We will also examine the puppet stage and see a short performance, followed by a Q&A session amid the puppets and stage materials.

Whether you are a Bunraku fan or somebody simply interested in learning more about Japanese culture, this is a great opportunity to learn more!


Date and Time:
Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 at 4:30 P.M. (PDT)
Friday, September 24th, 2021 at 8:30 A.M. (Japan Time)


FREE!  (Zoom link will be sent upon registration)



Martin Holman | Literary Translator, Professor, Puppeteer, and Puppet Theater Director

Originally from Kentucky, Martin Holman has lived in Japan for more than 15 years since 1978. A translator of modern Japanese literature, including works by Nobel-laureate Kawabata Yasunari, Holman began training as a puppeteer with the 190-year-old Tonda Puppet Theater in Shiga Prefecture in 1993. There he became the first non-Japanese to perform in the traditional puppet theater in Japan. Later, as a professor of Japanese, he brought hundreds of university students to Japan for puppetry training programs. In 2004 he founded Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater, which has performed in Japan, Canada, and 34 States in the US, including such venues as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution. Holman’s puppetry was featured in the film Kaiju Bunraku , which was selected for the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. After retirement from the University of Missouri, he moved to Tokushima and founded another troupe, Tokubeiza, through which he continues both to preserve and promote the traditional theater, as well as to innovate within it, adapting traditional and modern materials for puppets.


September 23, 2021
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search