Bunraku and Joruri


Bunraku puppet play performance

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Topic / see below
***** Category: Humanity


The Japanese puppet theater has a long history.
Here first are some dishes in its memory.
There are quite a few restaurants in Japan using the name
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Jooruri, jōruri じょうるり【浄瑠璃】Joruri
the dramatic narrative which accompanies a Bunraku puppet show

wasabi to jooruri wa naite homeru

wasabi and Joruri puppet theater recitation are praized with your tears.

Good wasabi is so hot you start to cry.
Good bunraku theater performance is so sad that you cry.

 WASHOKU : Wasabi

CLICK for more photos
The Tayu 太夫 narrator has to act all the persons of a play, from young children to wailing mothers, lost lovers or desperate villains, and does it in such a perfect way that the audience is captured to tears by his recitation.
It takes long years of practise to become a Tayu, often a family tradition. Just to be able to sit for long hours during the play takes years of practise. He reads form a special script with indicators of how to use the voice in a certain situation, most of these books are secret family treasures.


文楽新名物 Dishes remembering Bunraku

Bunraku no Natsu Soba 文楽の夏そば
with local chicken, Japanese style

shichifuku soba 七福そば
Soba noodles with sevenfold good luck
A new menu item for the Bunraku season, with seven toppings for good luck.

source : 麺酒房 文楽 奈良東向通店


CLICK for more photos

Bunraku, also known as Ningyō jōruri (人形浄瑠璃), is a form of traditional Japanese puppet theater, founded in Osaka in 1684.

Three kinds of performers take part in a bunraku performance:

Ningyōtsukai or Ningyōzukai - Puppeteers
Tayū たゆう【太夫】 - the chanters
Shamisen players
Occasionally other instruments such as taiko drums will be used.

The most accurate term for the traditional puppet theater in Japan is ningyo joruri. The combination of chanting and shamisen playing is called jōruri and the Japanese word for puppet is ningyō.

Bunraku puppetry has been a traditional activity for Japanese citizens for hundreds, even thousands of years. For many it is something which is of great excitement and something which ties younger generations to the ways of the past in Japan.

Originally, the term "Bunraku" referred only to the particular theater established in 1872 in Osaka, which was named the Bunrakuza after the puppeteering ensemble of Uemura Bunrakuken(植村文楽軒), an early 19th century puppeteer on Awaji, whose efforts revived the flagging fortunes of the traditional puppet theater in the 19th century.

The later prominence of the National Bunraku Theater of Japan, which is a descendant of the theater founded by Bunrakken, has popularized the name "Bunraku" in the twentieth century to the point that many Japanese use the term to refer generically to any traditional puppet theater in Japan.

Bunraku puppets range in size from two-and-a-half to four feet tall or more, depending on the age and gender of the character and the conventions of the specific puppet troupe. The puppets of the Osaka tradition tend to be somewhat smaller overall, while the puppets in the Awaji tradition are some of the largest as productions in that region tend to be held outdoors.

CLICK for more joruri photos The heads and hands of traditional puppets are carved by specialists, while the bodies and costumes are often constructed by puppeteers. The heads can be quite sophisticated mechanically. In plays with supernatural themes, a puppet may be constructed so that its face can quickly transform from a nice lady into that of a fearful demon. Less complex heads may have eyes that move up and down, side to side or close, and noses, mouths, and eyebrows that move.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Chikamatsu Monzaemon 近松門左衛門
a famous writer of stories for the puppet theater

for example
Sonezaki Shinju 曽根崎心中
The Love Suicides at Sonezaki
with Ohatsu and Tokubei
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. Kubi ningyoo 首人形 head dolls .
from Bunraku puppets


one famous performance is the New Year Celebration with

Sanbaso (sanbasoo 三番叟)
It started in the ninth century as a dance to avoid earthquakes. Then it was performed in Noh, Kyogen and even Kabuki.

. Sanbasoo 三番叟 Sanbaso Dancers .


CLICK for more photos Liquor called
Bungo Joruri

Shochu, Made in Oita prefecture
25% alcohol

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Tokiwazu Moji Tayuu 常磐津 文字太夫 Tokiwazu Mojitayu (1709 - 1781)
The was a narator and reciter of Joruri and began the Tokiwazu-bushi in 1747.
He lived in the 檜物町 / 檜物丁 HimonoCho District in Edo.

source : ntj.jac.go.jp/dglib/collections
襲名披露口上 四代目常磐津文字太夫 Tokiwazu 4th generation

- quote -
Tokiwazu-bushi 常磐津節
Tokiwazu-bushi is generally abbreviated as "Tokiwazu." Tokiwazu is a school of 浄瑠璃 Joruri, and originated in 豊後節 Bungo-bushi, founded by Miyakoji Bungonojo. Bungonojo was extremely popular in Edo, but because his works were mostly Michiyukimono (lovers traveling together) which culminated in double suicide, Bungo-bushi was banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate for the reason that Bungo-bushi corrupted public morals. After Bungonojo left Edo, Mojitayu an apprentice of Bungonojo, founded Tokiwazu-bushi.

In Kabuki, Tokiwazu is mainly responsible for Degatari (onstage performance) as the accompaniment for Buyo (dance). Tokiwazu group consists of reciters called Tayu, and Shamisenkata (shamisen players). The shamisen used are chuzao (medium-neck). The distinction of Tokiwazu-bushi is that it is slower-paced and more solemn than Kiyomoto music.
- source : ntj.jac.go.jp/unesco/kabuki -

- quote -
- Tokiwazu -
Tokiwazu is a style of Joruri narrative music that is used in the Kabuki theater for dances and dance plays. It never appears with puppets. There are several styles of singing that ultimately derive from a style called Bungo Bushi. These styles include Tokiwazu, Tomimoto, Kiyomoto and Shinnai. Of these styles, Tomimoto has virtually disappeared and Shinnai almost never appears in the theater. So Tokiwazu is the oldest of the Bungo Bushi styles performed in Kabuki today. Technically Tokiwazu, Tomimoto and Kiyomoto are much the same, but they differ in atmosphere since their repertory reflects the tastes of the ages that produced them and the personalities of the singing stars that originally performed them. Bungo Bushi takes its name from Miyakoji Bungo-no-Jo who traveled from Kyoto to Edo, and became famous for his beautiful voice and fashionable clothing. He appeared in Kabuki, and seems to have mostly performed love suicide plays that were reworked versions of masterpieces by Chikamatsu. But love suicide plays were banned by the shogunate and, broken hearted, Bungo-no-Jo returned to Kyoto and in 1740, soon died.

Tokiwazu began when one of Bungo-no-Jo's students who remained in Edo began performing under the name Tokiwazu Mojitayu (1709 - 1781).
The first period of greatness for Tokiwazu was in the 1750's with long, colorful dance dramas like Tsumoru Koi Yuki no Seki no To (The Snowbound Barrier) and Modori Kago Iro no Aikata (The Returning Palanquin), both created to feature the dancing skills of Nakamura Nakazo I (1736 - 1790). In the first play, he appears as a boisterous barrier guard who is actually a pretender to the imperial throne. In the second play, he appeared as a palanquin bearer who is also actually a larger-than-life villain. Before Nakazo, dance was considered the exclusive preserve of the onnagata female role specialist and the music was usually Nagauta, but Nakazo opened the way for dances featuring male characters that used other styles of music......
- source : jtrad.columbia.jp/eng -

. Himonochoo 檜物町 HimonoCho District in Edo .

- quote -
Nagauta (長唄), literally "long song",
is a kind of traditional Japanese music which accompanies the kabuki theater. It was developed around 1740. Influences included the vocal yōkyoku style used in noh theater, and instruments included the shamisen and various kinds of drums.
The shamisen, a plucked lute with three strings, is a very popular instrument in nagauta. Nagauta performers generally play the shamisen and sing simultaneously.
Nagauta is the basis of the Nagauta Symphony, a symphony in one movement composed in 1934 by composer Kosaku Yamada.
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


kigo for late summer
suzumi jooruri 涼み浄瑠璃 cool jooruri song
puppet theater performance, often by laypeople, outside in the cool evening air.

kigo for mid-autumn
Saikaku ki 西鶴忌 memorial day for Saikaku
Ihara Saikaku 井原西鶴 (1642-1693), August 10 according to the old calendar.
author of many ningyo joruri plays.

kigo for mid-winter
Chikamatsu ki 近松忌 memorial day for Chikamatsu
Soorinshi ki 巣林子忌
Soorin ki 巣林忌
On November 22 of the old calendar.

CLICK for photos of Ihara Saikaku

yuuzora o chi no iro ni some Saikaku ki

the evening sky
is colored in blood red -
Saikaku memorial day

source : Nao なを

Related words

***** Memorial Days of Famous People, Celebrities

WASHOKU : General Information

- #bunraku #joruri #tokiwazu -


anonymous said...

I urge all of you to study the haiku Gabi translates for us. They are worthy of study and emulation.
We should all study Japanese haiku better our craft.
Japan originated haiku and there is too much disagreement as to what is right or wrong amongst in America and to what is and isn't proper, including the use of kigo.

Robert D. Wilson

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

amulet to become a beauty

at shrine Tsuyu no Ten Jinja 露天神社 - Osaka Sonezaki 曽根崎
famous for the bunraku story of the love suicide of Sonezaki

Gabi Greve said...

The Barbara Curtis Adachi Bunraku Collection

The Barbara Curtis Adachi Collection, given to Columbia's C. V. Starr East Asian Library in 1991, is one of the most extensive collections in the world visually documenting this rich performance tradition. The collection represents four decades of close contact and respectful collaboration between Ms. Adachi and the Japanese National Bunraku Troupe, the leading performance group of Bunraku in the world, and documents the significant revival of Bunraku's popularity in the second half of the twentieth century.
There are 13476 pictures of visuals and slides

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

marionetto マリオネット marionette, puppet
Pinoccio Daruma  。。。 ピノッキオ だるま

Gabi Greve said...


In a long apprenticeship, bunraku puppet assistants spend 10 years controlling the legs and 15 controlling the left hand before becoming the principal operator who controls the head and right hand.

Gabi Greve said...

The Barbara Curtis Adachi Bunraku Collection