PUK Pupa Theatro is not a traditional puppet theatre. There are no strings attached to the puppets, and in the Japanese tradition the stagehands are visible. But different from traditional Japanese puppet theatre, the puppet managers are also actors, playing different roles - and changing the scenery.
The puppets are really cute, but they know how to tell a story. When the company was founded in 1929, the story was part of the international peace movement, and the military police closed them down several times.
Today, the puppets are telling stories in a basement theatre in the theatre company building from 1971. This is a childrens theatre: the first two rows are reserved for kids.
Yes, it is all in Japanese, and your kids may not make sense of the finer nuances of the story. But that does not really matter. There is enough action for them to enjoy the show.
So What Did Our Kids Think?
A childrens theatre is useless if the kidd get bored. But that did not happen here. On the contrary, they followed the tale of a little fox who has to go to the human city to buy a pair of mittens so he can play in the snow with riveted attention.
They not only loved the show and the story, they also enjoyed meeting the puppets and puppetteers. Although children of the animation age that they are., they were a bit disappointed that the puppetteers were talking, instead of the puppets. They did recognize any of the characters of the shows we saw, but they might have. The shows are frequently featured on NHK, the Japanese national television.
Location And Opening Times
Puk Pupa Teatro is located just a few blocks from Shinjuku Station. When you get to the little Yoyogi Nichome Aoi Park, turn left. The theatre is behind the Zenrosai Hall. There are usually two shows per day during weekends, at 1030 and 1400. Weekdays may be less, so you had better check the the show times.
One issue is that the tickets are a bit expensive - 3500
yen for the kids. But we saved the money by not having an expensive weekend dinner. Although the kids ate their weight in cookies from the theatre cafe.
Was It Worth It?
Yes. The play was very nice and the puppets amazing. Ii was great for the kids to get to see how theatre actually happens rather than watching TV.
This post is one in my ongoing series on how to navigate Japan for travelers with children. I have written before about the Japanese travel year and the Japanese travel day (for most people heavily centered around taking the train), but sometimes for long trips you can choose between train and flying. I have a couple of articles on buying diapers in Japan and buying baby goods in Japan. I have written about how to figure out where to stay in Tokyo and how much you should budget for your trip to Japan. And I have written about whether you will be safe in Japan. And of course, since I have three kids, I have written a lot about Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea. And lots more.
I am Wisterian Watertree, recently moved from Bangkok to Tokyo, with a brief visit to Honolulu on the way. I write about travel, especially with our three beautiful kids (two girls and one boy, soon turning four and a half - yes. they are triplets). Travel is education and fun rolled into one, and if you are like me, that is something you want to give to your kids. If you want more tips and want to find out when I will publish something, get it from my email list. If you want to be personal, drop me a note on email@example.com, or if you want general tips, follow me on Twitter @wisterianw.