Youki-za was established in 1635 by the first generation of the Youki Magozaburo, the Edo period thread manipulated puppet troupe. It played an active part as a troupe certified by the Shogunate in Fukiya-cho (currently Nihonbashi). After that, because of Tempo’s Reforms, the “Edo five Theaters” for “Kabuki-Sanza”, “Satsuma-za”, the hand controlled puppet theater and “Youki-za” the thread manipulated puppet theater moved to Asakusa-Saruwaka-cho. For a while the gorgeous play town was bustling, but after the Meiji Restoration, these theaters disappeared from Asakusa-Saruwaka-cho, and “Satsuma-za” disappeared as well. Only the name of “Kabuki-Sanza” remained and only this name was inherited. Now only “Youki-za” has survived as a troupe.
Currently the chairperson is Youki Magozaburo, who is 12th generation. He is actively working on classical performances as well as new ones, overseas performances in dozens of countries, and international cooperative productions with the activity guideline of “two wheels for tradition and innovation or classical and new works.” The new works will feature a stage where actors and puppets co-star in the same play space, as well as a stage space unique to Youki-za, and methods such as directing using the “Edo-Utsushie,” a visual art created in the Edo era that draws and projects pictures on a glass plate. This troup continues to create a unique stage space. In 1956, it was designated as an intangible Cultural Property of Tokyo, and in 1996 it was selected as a national Record Selected Intangible Cultural Property.
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