The festival started as a tiny event in 1979 and now 430 shows are performed at 130 venues in the whole Iida area and 40,000 attendants enjoy them!
I watched a Cambodian traditional shadow puppet performance (Intangible Cultural Heritage designated by UNESCO), a Spanish performance by “stone puppets”, and other two free (you only need to have a badge in the right photo) performances by Japanese groups at a special stage in the Festa Central Park and in a hotel “Fringe theater”.I was impressed that even the free small performances are very high-level. Children in Iida are very happy because they grow up while they watch and experience the festival every year. When they become adults, many of them will get involved as volunteer workers, audiences, and puppeteers. It is “tradition”.
I regretted a little that I couldn’t have time to see Japanese traditional puppet performances like bunraku, which are continuing to be performed more than 300 years and made Iida “the town of puppet”.This event is held the 1st Thursday to Sunday in August (4 days) every year.
Next year 2013, a special “Asian Puppet Festival” is planned for 6 days with the ordinal Puppet Festival.