The Ballad of Narayama

Program Information

Genre / City Theatre / Toyama
Dates 27 April at 16:00, 28 April at 16:00, 29 April at 16:00
Venue at Ellipse Theatre “DAENDO”, Shizuoka Performing Arts Park
Duration 70 minutes
Language In Japanese with English surtitles
Seat Non-reserved seating
Direction and script SETOYAMA Misaki
Based on the novel FUKAZAWA Shichiro
Production SCOT

Coming soon!


This story, which is about kirou — the ancient practice of abandoning old people to die in the mountains — questions matters concerning the dignity of life that many people have now forgotten.

The protagonist, named Orin, lives full of energy everyday even as she looks forward to “going to the mountain”, and keeps her brightness and strength despite that tradition.

A novel written by FUKAZAWA Shichiro, “The Ballad of Narayama” created a social sensation when it was published in 1956, and now audiences in Shizuoka can enjoy this dramatization by SETOYAMA Misaki, one of today’s most promising playwrights and directors.

Based on a traditional Japanese view of life and death linked to a belief in gods of the mountains, Setoyama depicts this in a rural community where people in a poor village treat their aging and ailing parents, with respect, as “living creatures” until their last breath. Then she extrapolates such attitudes to today’s society in which many old people are separated out and regarded as “dead people” while they are still living. 

Brutal and lofty energy fills the pitch-dark stage of SPAC’s Daendo Theatre.

Setoyama’s “The Ballad of Narayama” had its world premiere at the Toga Sanbo Theatre in Toga Art Park in Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture, in 2023.

Now, it will be staged at SPAC’s Daendo theatre in Shizuoka Performing Arts Park where, in addition to the three actors of the Toga version, the cellist IGARASHI Asaka will also perform on stage.

With the movements of those three actors restricted as much as possible, the audience will witness the powerful arguments in the family at close range. In addition, Igarqshi’s playing fills the pitch-dark space as the play questions the roots of humans’ life force through the views of life and death evident in folk beliefs. 


There is a village custom known as narayama mairi that says a child should carry their mother or father to the mountain and leave them there to die when they become 70 years old. An old lady called Orin is looking forward to this and has been preparing for it for years. However, Orin’s son Tatsuhei and his second wife, Tamayan, want to be together with Orin for as long as possible.

Director’s profile

© Carole Bellaiche

SETOYAMA was born in 1977 in Tokyo. She is a playwright and theatre director who founded her Minamoza theatre company in 2001. Since March 2022 she has been President of the Japan Playwrights Association.

Besides her theatre activity, she writes scripts for radio dramas and movies such as 2016’s “Azumi Haruko wa Yukuefumei” (“Japanese Girls Never Die”) and 2018’s “River’s Edge”. She also conducts theatre workshops and is involved in the creation of community theatre.

SETOYAMA’s “Karera no Teki” (“Their Enemy”) was named Best Play in the 23rd Yomiuri Theater Awards in 2016. Then in 2020 she won the Best Director prize in the 27th Yomiuri Theater Awards and the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize for Newcomers with “The Nether.”

In addition, she directed the musical “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2023, and “Ushoku” (“Tooth Decay”), a new original play by YOKOYAMA Takuya, in February 2024.

Cast / Staff

Direction and script: SETOYAMA Misaki
Based on the novel: FUKAZAWA Shichiro

Cast: MORIO Mai, NISHIO Yuki, HAMANO Madoka
Composer, Cellist: IGARASHI Asaka

Light designer: UEKAWA Mayumi
Sound designer: SENDA Yuta
Costume: TAKAHASHI Tsuyoshi
Stage manager: ITO Tatsuhiko
Company manager: ONOZUKA Chika

Artistic direction: SUZUKI Tadashi
Produced by SCOT

SPAC staff
Stage: TSUCHIYA Katsunori
Lighting: KOBAYAKAWA Hiroya, TAKEZAWA Akira
Sound: HAYASHI Tetsuya
Production: KUGA Haruko
Volunteer: SAWAI Toru
Surtitle translation: Earphoneguide Co., Ltd

Managing director: NARUSHIMA Yoko
Technical director: MURAMATSU Atsushi
Lighting manager: HIGUCHI Masayuki
Sound manager: SAWADA Yukino


◎Pre-Performance Talk: Starting 25 minutes before each performance in front of the venue.

English surtitles

English surtitles will be available for the performances. We lend tablets to customers. Please come to the lending desk at the venue. (The number of rental tablets is limited.)


* Admission to auditorium is restricted to children of school age and over.

↑ Page Top
Event Schedule