This production is being mounted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Praemium Imperiale, a prize for artists that has been awarded since 1989 at the suggestion of the Emperor of Japan. The Doll Sisters began in 1976 as a collaboration between Taeko Tomioka, a noted poet, and Setsu Asakura, a leading stage designer. It uses both puppets and actors, combining ancient Japanese styles with modern ones. Traditional conventions of the play were drawn from bunraku and even earlier forms of doll-drama. The play adopts the characters of the first act of "Modoribashi" by Kawatake Mokuami, a classic Kabuki drama that was, itself, based on a 1,000 year old myth.