Japanese troupe founded in 1948 in Kamakura that has been located since 1965 to Kawasaki. Shortly after the end of World War II, graduates of the Department of Theatre at the Kamakura Conservatory got together to form a theatre company. Initially the company combined both theatre actors and puppets, but soon developed an independent structure for puppetry, Ningyō-Gekidan Hitomi-za. Since 1965, the troupe has been located in Kawasaki City in the industrial suburb of Tokyo.
Its sixty-person-strong troupe has put great energy into producing many puppet productions. They also create plays designed for children, such as Uma ni baketa Kitsune’don (Mr Fox Who Took the Shape of a Horse), as well as works for adults, adapting William Shakespeare’s King Lear and, more recently, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They also adapt the works of modern Japanese authors, from Izumi Kyōka (1873-1939) to Abe Kōbō (1924-1993) and also major figures of avant-garde theatre of the 1970s such as Terayama Shūji (1935-1983).
The company has also learned traditional Japanese puppetry, especially the otome ningyō – a female form – that uses slightly smaller puppets which are controlled by one person but are still faithful to the repertoire of Bunraku (ningyō jōruri). The troupe has also revived productions such as Tsubosaka reigenki (Miracle at Tsubosakadera Temple). Several of the company’s productions have won awards.
The troupe also works in television and film. It has toured all over Japan, and also overseas, particularly to the United States, Canada, and China. The Hitomi-za Puppet Troupe also focuses on the local community through its regular performances in its theatre in Kawasaki.