Bunnraku , traditional Japanese puppet drama 2014/12/10

I went to National Theater last evening to watch Bunraku which is a traditional Japanese puppet theater. Bunraku is performed through the harmony of the narrator, shamisen accompaniment and puppets maneuvered by puppeteers.

They played two dramas yesterday for 4 hours with 30 minutes intermission. First play was titled as “ Meiboku Sendai Hagi” (the troubles in the Date clan at Edo period) .

After the death of the lord of the clan, his young heir was protected by the desperate service of his nanny.

The nanny, Masaoka, submitted her own young boy’ life to block the villain’s plot for  poisoning the heir.

The point of this play is the painful agony of Masaoka who tried hard to control and suppress her natural feeling of loving her own son against the royalty and duty to the young heir of the clan.

In modern Japanese society, there are few who acts similarly with Masaoka of Edo period. However not a few Japanese still sympathize the agony of Masaoka.

Gidayu chanting of narrator together with the tensioned Shamisen sound accelerated the agony of Masaoka. The highly trained puppeteer manipulated the puppet so skillfuly that the puppet showed the mental feeling of Masaoka more impressively than a real human actor.

Bunraku is surely one of the great assets of Japanese culture, although it is becoming more and more difficult to keep well trained Gidayu narrators, Shamisen players and puppeteers.