By Karin Conn

San Francisco – California





Photo by Theatre of Yugen

Performer Jubilith Moore



History of Theatre of Yugen’s 40thAnniversary

Chapter One of Four

Written by Nick Ishimaru




Theatre of Yugen is celebrating its 40thanniversary this year.  And looking back, Theatre of Yugen has made strides, establishing itself amid difficulties that would have folded other budding theatre companies.


Founder Yuriko Doi brought the Japanese traditions of theatre from Japan to the SF Bay Area at a time when few people in the United States knew what they were.  In the 1960s and ‘70s Americans were still embroiled in the bitterness of the Vietnam War, heightened by the anti-Communist fears and policies of a decade earlier.


Yet, thanks to important economic and manufacturing ties to Japan, the impact of Japanese culture on American life was significant, but it remained a challenge for the average Americans to recognize its ancient past and intricate customs.  Theatre of Yugen has addressed this over the years by bringing these elements of ancient culture to a much wider audience.


By allowing an eclectic mix of cast and crew to grow and learn about Japanese theatrical art and culture it has been able to adapt, endure, and do more than just survive — it has thrived. 


By recognizing its links to the universal elements found in all cultures throughout the world, Doi has built a bridge helping people to better understand the common threads of humanity in all peoples.  “We serve as a bridge between past and present, East and West, and from generation to generation,” says Artistic Director Nick Ishimaru.


Theatre of Yugen has received numerous awards and accolades, chief among them numerous National Endowment for the Arts awards, a proclamation of Theatre of Yugen Day from the city of San Francisco, and a Commendation by the Ministry of Japanese Foreign Affairs for “excellence in the pursuit of and promotion of a more improved understanding of Japan, its culture, and its people.” 


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