Performances Outside of Japan

Tsuruga Wakasanojo has presented numerous performances in countries other than Japan, including in Europe, South America, North America, and Asia.

Often the question arises whether non-Japanese people would be able to appreciate shinnai, but the results have consistently been rave reviews.

"Shinnai is fun to see and to listen to" is one of Wakasanojo's mottos. Overseas, he generally performs with the Kuruma Ningyo puppeteers, most especially the works Yaji-Kita and Kuzu no Ha.

Yaji-Kita is one of only a few humorous works in the shinnai repertoire. When performing overseas, Wakasanojo does as much as possible of the characters' dialogue in the local language. Audiences are surprised and pleased. For example, in Brazil, the audience stamped on the floor to show their approval, and laughed heartily at the jokes. At a performance at a university in the United States, the audience of students were laughing so loudly that it was almost not possible to hear the subsequent lines.

In 2008, in Washington, DC, Wakasanojo performed a 50-minute portion of Yaii-Kita in English. He worked with several of his supporters to prepare this translation. Because some of the jokes in the original were puns that were impossible to translate into English, Wakasanojo wrote many new jokes for the all-English version. This was the first time in the history of shinnai that an entire work had been performed in any language other than Japanese. The performance received a standing ovation. Later in 2008, he repeated the all-English shinnai version of Yaji-Kita in Tokyo for an audience comprised mainly of non-Japanese.

Serious shinnai works are also highly regarded overseas. After a performance in New York City, Wakasanojo's voice was described as sensual and mysterious.

Recently, Wakasanojo has received many requests to lecture at universities and to give workshops for children in the United States and UK. Audiences of all ages ask many questions and are interested in learning to play the shamisen.

Hereafter, Wakasanojo will continue to travel abroad, both to perform shinnai in concerts and also to educate people about the genre through lectures and workshops.

1977 Korea (at the invitation of Asia Broadcast Exchange Association)
1979 Hawaii (performance on a Japanese radio station)
1983 France: Avignon Festival
1983 France: Montpellier (International Music Festival)
1990 Canada: Drummondville, Quebec (World Culture Festival)
1997 Spain (invited by a Japanese corporation)
1998 China (invited by Japan-China Friendship Association)
2000 Brazil (4 cities), Uruguay, Chile (invited by the Japan Foundation)
2002 Saipan (with the Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Troupe)
2002 Hawaii (4 islands), Seattle, San Antonio
2003 Russia
2003 New York City, Cambridge, MA; Hanover, NH; Clinton, NY; Amherst, MA; Pensacola, FL (concerts)
Princeton University (lecture)
2004 Seoul
2005 University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Middlebury College, VT; Wesleyan University, CT; Dartmouth University (workshops); Washington University in St. Louis; Hanford, CA (performances)
2007 Washington, DC (joint performance at the Smithsonian Institutions with Mari Mihashi, ukiyo-e artist)
2007 Amherst, MA (University of Massachusetts); St. Louis, MO (Washington University): concerts. Hanford, CA (lecture)
2008 Washington, DC (joint performance at the Smithsonian Institutions with the Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Troupe)
2008 Peru, Ecuador, Colombia (with the Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Troupe)
2009 UK (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland), Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium (concerts and workshops)
2009 Slovak Republic, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania (concerts)
2011 Poland (concert)
2011 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (concerts)
2012 Poland, Latvia (concerts)
2012 Singapore (lecture-demonstration, concerts)
2014 Paris (joint performances at the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris with the Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Troupe)
2014 Bordeaux (concert)


After a concert in France


During a tour in China


Wakasanojo, Ise, and American university students


Shinnai workshop at an American university


Demonstrating shamisen for American children


An American child tries playing the shamisen