Japanese puppet theatre troupe. Ningyō-Gekijō-Takenoko was founded in 1971 by two puppeteers with support from Kawajiri Taiji (1914-1994), the artistic director of Ningyō-Gekidan PŪKU (PUK Puppet Theatre), a pillar of contemporary puppet theatre in Japan. Although it inherited the tradition employed by the Saibata-Ningyoza-Asahi-Wakateru-Ichiza (Saibata-Asahi Wakateru Puppet Troupe), a tradition that resurged at the end of the 19th century, Takenoko Puppet Troupe served as a creator of modern puppetry.

The troupe’s first performance was a play by Kawajiri Taiji that incorporated exaggerated movements and witty lines that are characteristics of Saibata ningyō. It also included in its repertoire an abbreviated version of a number of representative works of this style, which present the exploits of a legendary Japanese hero in Iwanami Jūtarō daija taiji (Iwanami Jūtarō Subjugates the Giant Serpent).

Composed of only two members, the troupe is exceptionally mobile and can therefore participate in a number of festivals and theatre meetings throughout the country. After its first overseas performance in the context of UNIMA (Moscow, 1976; Liège, Belgium, 1979), Takenoko Puppet Troupe has taken part in a number of festivals in the United States and Europe. In Asia, it has built a strong relationship with the international puppet festival held in South Korea, participating regularly since 1982. In Japan the troupe, which is based on the island of Shikoku, performs works for children such as its recent revival of classics of puppetry, including Onigami no O.Matsu (O.Matsu the Demon) and Kiyo-hime hiren (The Unhappy Love of Princess Kiyo).

Takenoko Puppet Troupe has organized international festivals in Japan, inviting puppeteers from abroad. It has also organized a festival that aims at promoting exchange among East Asian and Pacific puppeteers, serving as the chair of this festival.

(See Japan.)