This article looks at the production Shank's Mare, a collaboration between North American puppeteer Tom Lee and Nishikawa Koryu V, master of the Japanese kuruma ningyō or cart puppetry traditions and shows how the production and creative process blended different models of puppet performance, while also contributing to Nishikawa's greater project of finding new ways to invigorate and preserve his traditional art. It offers a brief history and understanding of kuruma ningyō, a puppetry form less well-known nationally and internationally than Japan's bunraku tradition, and an account of Shank's Mare's creation process and international tour to New York and two venues in Japan. It invites consideration of a tree as a model for understanding traditional forms and how they might maintain a recognizable core while also drawing from various roots and giving birth to new works.