See what Snuffpuppets got up to on their 2015 Asialink Arts residency in Japan

Working with residents of Urada, a regional farming community, we created a giant puppet show based on local traditions and Obon festival customs. The puppets performed at Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and Setouchi Triennale, bringing artists and audiences to remote areas to revitalise ageing and disappearing communities and featured participants performing in giant puppets on the banks of rice paddies and inside a 250-year-old traditional Kabuki Theatre.“Nobody who witnessed the group’s major performance could see it as anything but a raging success.” John Mcdonald, The Sydney Morning Herald

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From Snuff Puppets artist-in-residence Nick Wilson:

"On the surface the Urada narrative is one of departures, and its location is the past. We learned for instance that the population has dropped from 2000 in the 1960’s to 300 today, with an average age pushing on 70. The 2011 earthquake was the last straw for many households: a small exodus, we are told, of families desperate but unable to say. Our workspace is not only the gymnasium of an abandoned school, but also the emergency camp where the earthquake victims gathered on that early Spring night and slept like one big family on the floorboards.

"But the personal stories from our workshop group paint a different image, one more human than statistics and more colourful than disaster: one participant, 30, told us how he came back here from the city after the earthquake to help rebuild, and was so inspired by the strength and cooperation of the community that he found here that he repatriated. Our amazing young translator and her boyfriend are recent tree-changers from Tokyo who are learning to farm rice, choosing the serenity and community of Urada over the noise and convenience of the city. Our abandoned gymnasium is the home of a nine-strong children’s Taiko drumming group. For all we’ve seen they could be the only nine children here: what they lack in numbers they make up for in community spirit, creative passion and musical timing. Their rehearsals in the gym have been dynamic, and their performance this week at Noh Bu Tai was a real treat to watch. The elderly residents have told us they take pride in all these things, and also see in them a very real hope for the future of Urada."

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Louise Joel

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