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Page history last edited by Liz 10 years ago



Bunraku is the traditional puppet theater of Japan. The Japanese have been interested in puppet theater since the 8th century however Bunraku didn't become popularized as a form of entertainment until the 17th century. In English Bunraku is translated to mean "Literary pleasures". The narratives told during the performances include legends, myths and sometimes actual events happening in contemporary society.


There is no other form of puppetry like Bunraku in the world. Its one of a kind and experts say that it takes more than ten years of training to master this high art form. The theater productions can last as long as an entire day and a big part of Bunraku is the creation process. Much time and consideration goes into the making of each individual puppet as well as carefully practiced movements of the puppets to make them seem life like on stage. Puppets are life size ranging from 3 to 5 feet long and each are hand carved and painted by the head puppeteer.  


Every puppet is created with their own unique personality traits and characteristics and also arranged into categories of race, age, gender, social status, etc, as relevant to the story line and plot. An important part of the puppet's image is his or her face. Since the focus is on their body and its movements their faces are painted with bright bold colors so expressions are understood as well.


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Each individual puppet is operated by three people. Almost always two of them are dressed in black cloaks and are meant to represent "nothingness". The audience is

supposed to pretend the dark figures don't exist on the stage. The third figure is the head puppeteer. He wears a traditional kimono and special wooden clogs for easy maneuvering about the stage. The head puppeteer control the facial expressions, and the others either take control of the arms or the feet. All three work together to produce a lively and expressive production making each puppet appear alive.   


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