Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Attack advertising is in its infancy and Japanese election debates are staid affairs between men in suits who take their turns to speak and don’t get angry.
The election on Sunday is a battle between the heavyweight LDP and the up-and-coming Democrats, who have a big lead in the polls, but the only big punches you’ll see thrown are among tiny finger dolls on a puppet stage.
Japan prefers consensus in its politics and has been ruled by the same party for most of the last half-century, so what can a puppeteer do to appear topical without boring his audience?
Mitsuaki Tsuyuki at the “Lucky Laugh Theatre” in Tokyo has turned to Punch and Judy, reducing Prime Minister Taro Aso and opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama to a couple of bat-swinging midgets a few inches tall.
I had never seen a Noh performance until I went to interview an actor from the ancient Japanese theatre genre. Watching him on stage changed my perceptions of the art completely.
Yoshimasa Kanze, 38, knows that many people, myself included, are put off by Noh’s image of actors in masks, moving ever-so-slowly on stage to long, monotonal chants and choruses in ancient prose.