Satomi Ballantyne and Akiko Miyamoto have created a space to share Japanese culture in The Shopfront Theatre. Photo: Kate Russell.

Japan comes to Nelson in pop-up exhibition


A pop-up exhibition in central Nelson is giving locals a taste of Japanese puppets, art, craft, and language.

‘Pop-up Little Japan’ is on at The Shopfront Theatre on Collingwood St for the next month.

Puppeteer Akiko Miyamoto is the driving force behind the idea, saying she wanted to share her culture with Nelson.

“Because people cannot go to Japan at the moment, we wanted to bring people there. When people step in the building they are welcomed to Japan.”

Akiko has over 30 years’ experience in theatre and television, including work in Japan, New Zealand and around the world.

She has been based in Nelson since 2015.

She will be performing the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel entirely in Japanese language for four shows on October 31 and November 7.

Akiko says the 40-minute long performance is suitable for those aged seven and over.

“It is my favourite story, I love it. Normally everyone wants me to do Japanese stories and puppet shows. I’ve never tried this, but most people know the story and should be able to follow it.”

An exhibition featuring local Japanese artists as well as displays of Akiko’s collection of handmade puppets is also set up in the Make/Shift space. It is open to the public from 12pm – 1.30pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Akiko says they will also be offering two free origami and language workshops this Saturday morning, following two successful workshops last weekend.

“It is for beginners and those who are experienced. We want people to enjoy origami,” says Akiko.

To book your spot at an origami workshop go to, and to book tickets for Hansel and Gretel go to