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"Discover BUNRAKU – An experience for international audiences and beginners – "

On Monday, December 12, 2022, YNU international students attended "Discover BUNRAKU – An experience for international audiences and beginners – " held at the National Theatre as part of the "Cross-Cultural Experience Program" supported by the YNU Alumni Association “Koyukai”.

In the first part of the program, "An introduction to Bunraku," participants learned about the history of Bunraku, puppet manipulation, and the allure of performance, with navigator in English. In Bunraku, each puppet is operated by three puppeteers: (1) main puppeteer (Omo-zukai), who operates the puppet's face and right hand; (2) left puppeteer (Hidari-zukai), who operates the puppet with his left hand and supports the main puppeteer; and (3) foot puppeteer (Ashi-zukai), who moves around with his legs in a middle posture. The international students were surprised to hear that puppeteers would start as foot puppeteers, become left puppeteers in 10 to 15 years, and then become main puppeteers in another 10 to 15 years. During the demonstration, they were impressed by the way the three puppeteers worked together to express their joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure in abundance, as if the puppets were living and breathing.

In the second part of the program, the "Yugao dana” act and the “Amagasaki” act from the "A Picture Book of the Taiko Hideyoshi" was performed. This work depicts the anguish and sorrow of the women surrounding Akechi Mitsuhide(Takechi Mitsuhide in the play), who has killed his domineering lord Oda Nobunaga (Oda Harunaga in the play). At the venue, booklets in six languages and earphone guides in Japanese and English were distributed, and English subtitles were also displayed. The international students commented, "It was very interesting to see a traditional Japanese performing art," "It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life," and "The skill (in manipulating the puppets) was very impressive.
Group photo at the National Theatre
Group photo at the National Theatre

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