The Awadeko Japanese Puppet Museum celebrates the art of traditional Japanese puppet theater with displays of the dolls and other implements used in the performances. A visit will provide an in-depth look at the intricacies of the performances and the amazing skill of the puppet masters.
Information sessions are led by the resident puppet makers who span three generations, with the founder of the establishment still very much contributing to lectures and puppet production. An ambassador for this truly international art form, he participated in a marionette exhibition in Lyon, France in 1988, where he introduced the Japanese variant of this ancient craft.
One of the things that you come to appreciate after sitting in on one the talks and looking at the finished product is that the facial expressions of the puppets are incredibly varied and detailed as each one is designed to play a different character. Some of them even have moving parts to add subtlety.
You actually come to understand in some way, the allure that the puppets hold. They are representations of life that require a tremendous amount of skill in order for the stories they are used to depict to captivate the audience. You become mesmerized by their movements and at times forget that they are being controlled by a puppeteer.
The puppets at the museum range from small marionettes to life-sized figures which require several puppeteers to operate. The head, arms and lowers legs form the basis of the large creations, with the body being defined by the costume in which it is dressed.
Although the pieces made at the museum’s workshop are largely meant for use in performances, some are available for sale to the public. The upper sections of the puppets can be purchased in a variety of different styles, complete with a display case.
About the Area
Tokushima is one of the four prefectures of Shikoku Island in West Japan. It is a land of beautiful mountains and valleys, scenic seascapes and agricultural bounty. Perhaps the prefecture’s most revered cultural property is the Awa Odori dance that is held during the summer Bon Festival. Female performers dance rhythmically through the streets of Tokushima City dressed in their signature indigo kimono and wedge-shaped straw hats. Visitors come from around the world to witness this event.
A natural feature that is also considered a prefectural symbol is the Naruto Whirlpool. It is a spectacular vortex of water created by the juxtaposition of different water currents. The phenomenon can be viewed from the shore or a ship and even from an observation platform directly above it.
Access: It is about a 10 minute walk from JR Tokushima Station.
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