Nippon Connection 2021:Shadow Theatre Live Performance from Yokohama

Nippon Connection, the largest Japanese film festival outside Japan, was held for the 21st time. After last year's event, the festival was now held online for the second time. From June 1 (Tuesday) to June 6 (Sunday), the citizens of Frankfurt and the whole world were offered about 80 film titles as well as about 40 cultural programs, including workshops and performances on Japanese culture.

At this year's festival, which falls on the 10th anniversary of the Sister Cities Agreement between the City of Yokohama and the City of Frankfurt, our office was able to bring together the organizers of "Nippon Connection" with the Yokohama-based shadow theatre company "Kakashi-za" to plan and coordinate a live shadow play performance and other events.

Photo ©Nippon Connection


On Tuesday 1 June at 19:00, there was an introduction to the highlights of the festival.  When asked what her personal highlight of the festival will be, festival director Marion Klomfass replied: "Without a doubt Kakashi-za's live performance."

Program overview: Shadow Theatre Kakashi-za

Sat 05.06.2021 14:00-15:15: Live performance "Hand Shadows ANIMARE" with Q&A

Sat 05.06.2021 16:00-17:00: Shadow theatre workshop with Q&A

01.06.-06.06.2021* "Documentary Film Festival of Shadows", On-demand with German subtitles

*Extended and still available until 30.06.2021

Hand Shadows ANIMARE

"There are no limits to these hands."

The ultimate performance starring hands that bring shadows to life.

ANIMARE - Latin for "breathe life into, animate" - shows the world of shadow images full of fresh surprises. Using only hands and bodies, a wide variety of shapes are created and the story unfolds full of vibrancy and humor with colorful, beautiful shadow images.

This dynamic and graceful stage show has already been celebrated in more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia, and South America.

Afterwards, there was the possibility to ask the members of the Kakashi-za group questions. The audience was very interested in what inspires the group to do their shadow theatre, what the history of the group is, whether some shadow figures are not very difficult or even dangerous, and, connected to that, what the most difficult shadow figure was. But one question was of more burning interest to the audience than all the others: Will the group come to Frankfurt in person soon?


Hand shadow play has been popular in Japan since ancient times. In the Edo period (1603-1868), a drummer used to perform this hand shadow play to entertain guests at banquets. There is also a booklet, the Kagee Toranomaki, which details how to make kage-e (hand shadow images), which shows how popular this art was.

In this workshop, the audience was able to experience the charm of shadow theatre and learn how to do some shadow images themselves. First, a small excerpt from the performance was shown so that afterwards the audience could learn how to recreate the individual animals. It was also demonstrated how shadow images were made in the Edo period and at the end the audience could wish for shadow images from the artists. What was interesting for the participants here was the question of how and with which media one can learn to make shadow pictures.

Festival der Schatten

With the slogan "There are no limits to these hands", the performers are constantly refining their skills. In this film, we see the "mysterious moment" when the "hands" come to life and fly across the screen as if they were independent creatures. At the same time, the film also takes the camera backstage, where it has never been shown before, and follows the members of the company on their 60th anniversary tour of three major cities in Japan and up to their departure for Brazil.

This is director Oshima Taku’s first documentary film, who has sharply visualised the "shadow" side of the human heart in his dramatic films such as Our House on Mars and The Frozen Mirror.


Veröffentlicht in Articles & Reports, Yokohama´s International Policy.