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January 18 - February 16, 2024

Best enjoyed by Preschool - Grade 2

Student Matinees


This event has passed.

Could YOU climb up a waterfall??! See a heroic carp who tries just that in this energetic and interactive retelling of traditional fables from Japan and Okinawa. Through artful puppetry and three imaginative actors, you’ll also meet a grateful crane, a wonderfully generous mouse, and an industrious rabbit who teaches everyone to do the mochi dance! During this invigorating show from Hawai’i, live music played on the koto, shakuhachi, and taiko drum will accompany young audiences as they dance, clap, and sing along. 

By Reiko Ho and the Honolulu Theatre for Youth Ensemble
Directed by Reiko Ho

  • Run time

    1 hour without an intermission

  • Best enjoyed by

    Preschool - Grade 2

  • Stage

    Cargill Stage


About the Show

  • This interactive performance is performed by three adult actors using puppetry, masks, and music. These traditional fables from Japan and Okinawa teach lessons of persistence, respect, and kindness.
  • This production takes place on our Cargill Stage which seats up to 298 people per performance.
  • We know that teachers are the best judge to determine the right fit for their unique group of students. We recommend The Carp Who Would Not Quit for students in preschool-grade 2.

At CTC, our mission is to create extraordinary theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire young people and their communities. This Educator Guide is just one of the ways in which we aim to enhance your experience and further your students’ engagement with the shows on stage. It includes pre- and post-show activities and discussion questions, printouts to send home with permission slips, and important information for the day of your field trip.


Content Advisories

Language: 0 out of 5 stars
Actors engage the audience in call and response with Japanese vocabulary. While the stories are told in English, the actors sing and speak Japanese intermittingly throughout.

Themes and Situations: 0 out of 5 stars

Violence & Scariness: 0 out of 5 stars
There is a stylized dance-like battle between a sea serpent and shisa (lion dog).

Sensory Advisories: 1 out of 5 stars
The shisa (lion dog) roars, and the actors encourage the audience to roar as well, which could be loud. There is drumming throughout that may be loud.

Potentially Anxious Moments: 0 out of 5 stars
Actors interact with audience members through call and response.

Full Plot Description

This is a complete description of the play, so it is full of spoilers. 

The play is a series of short Japanese fables told with hand puppets and music. We begin with…

The Carp Who Would Not Quit
Hiro the carp loves to swim, jump, and eat with his brothers and sisters. One day, he has an idea to swim up the highest waterfall. As they swim, one of the fish gets distracted and swims away to go play. The remaining three fish keep swimming and trying to go upstream. The current is so strong, that one of the fish stops to rest, leaving just two fish to keep trying. They make it to the waterfall, but one of the fish is too scared to try and make it to the top, leaving Hiro by himself. He perseveres and makes it to the top. His perseverance is rewarded, and he becomes a dragon.

The Tale of the Crane Who was Grateful
We see an old man carrying heavy wood through the snow. He hears rustling feathers and sees a crane stuck in a net. He untangles the net and sets her free. That night, the old man and his wife hear a knock at the door. It is a young girl asking for shelter from the snow storm. The couple let her inside to stay the night. In the night, the girl cleans the floor and makes the couple tea in the morning. She asks if she can stay and be their daughter. The couple is overjoyed as they have always wanted a daughter. To repay them for their kindness, the girl asks for some cloth to weave for them to sell at the market. She asks them not to peek while she works on it.

After three days, she shows them the beautiful cloth she has made. The couple says that they cannot sell her beautiful cloth, but she insists that they need the money for food. A rich man buys the cloth for many gold coins. The old man buys rice with the coins and has more money to spare. The girl says she’ll weave more cloth. As she weaves, the couple is curious about how she weaves the cloth so beautifully. The old man decides to peek on her. The girl is actually a crane! She adopts her crane form when she weaves and weaves her feathers into the cloth. This is what makes it so beautiful.

The girl explains that she is the crane that the old man saved that one winter night. She had come to them as a human to weave cloth to repay him for his kindness. But now that they have seen her true form, she must leave them. Before their eyes, she transforms into a crane and flies away.

The couple lived on the money she had made for them for the rest of their lives and were very happy. The memories of the days they shared as a family were their true fortune.

The Rabbit (Usagi) in the Moon
A rabbit tells the audience that in Japan, they believe there is a rabbit (usagi) in the moon making mochi. Mochi is a sweet Japanese rice cake. The actors lead the audience in an interactive song and dance where they pat, knead, and pound the mochi.

The Mice and the Musubi
A hardworking woodcutter sits down at the end of the day to eat his musubi, a Japanese snack made with blocks of rice. He drops his food, and it lands in a mouse hole. He enters the mouse hole and finds a group of mice. They are working on turning his musubi into mochi. He joins them in making mochi, using the same song that the rabbit taught earlier. He eats the mochi, and the mice insist he choose a box to take with him.

He chooses a box and exits the mouse hole. The box is filled with gold! He can’t believe his good fortune and runs to tell his neighbor. His greedy neighbor decides to try the same thing the next day to get gold of his own. Once in the hole, the neighbor does not help the mice make the mochi. The mice invite him to choose a box to take with him, but the neighbor wants both of the boxes. The neighbor decides to scare the mice by pretending to be a cat so he can take both boxes with him.

When he opens the boxes, he finds that they are both empty. The neighbor is upset; it never pays to be greedy.

The Shisa Story
This story takes place in a village by the sea that is guarded by a stone shisa, a lion dog of Okinawa. Legend has it that the stone shisa could come alive. An angry sea serpent attacks the village. The villagers’ cries wake up the stone shisa, and the shisa defends the village. Using stylized movement, the sea serpent and the shisa fight to drumbeats. The shisa roars, and the audience helps roar as well. The sea serpent is defeated, and the villagers rejoice!

The Mouse’s Match
Our last story is about a smart and brave little mouse who wants to climb mountains, run like the wind, and go on adventures. Her father says she should be quiet and still and isn’t strong enough to take on the world. So she sets off to find the most powerful being in the world to learn to be strong. She finds the sun, a cloud, and then the wind who sends her back home to the wall where she lives with her family. The wall tells her if there are enough mouse holes in the wall then it would crumble and thus, she is more powerful. Sometimes you only need to look inside yourself for the strength you need.

Actors of The Carp Who Would Not Quit and Other Animal Stories

“Sharing our cultural stories is one of the most important things I do as an Asian American theatre maker,” said Creator/Director Reiko Ho. “I’m delighted to adapt a few of my own favorite childhood stories for the stage and introduce some of the beautiful performance traditions and aesthetics of Japanese and Okinawan culture to a new generation of young people and families.”

Extend the Experience

in person or virtual

Workshops & Residencies

CTC transforms the classroom through multi-disciplined interactive workshops that spark creativity, encourage collaboration, and inspire action. Professional teaching artists facilitate engaging and inclusive learning opportunities for students while personalizing each experience to the needs and interests of your students and the learning goals of your classroom.

More Information

The Carp Who Would Not Quit Student Matinee

January 18 - February 16, 2024

This event has passed.