Class Enjoys Bunraku, Learns to Work with Puppets

Nov 12, 2011 (Sat.)

Dr. Lyle Barkhymer’s class visited the National Bunraku Theater in Osaka November 12, 2011, to enjoy a traditional performance and a workshop with the Bunraku dolls taught by puppet master Yoshida Kanya. A backstage tour followed. The thrilling performance tore at the heart in two plays highlighting the eternal conflict of duty and personal human feelings, and then climaxed in the gorgeous seasonally-appropriate “Momijigari (Viewing Maple Leaves)” featuring a smoke-spewing demon.

In the workshop Yoshida Kanya-sensei taught the Kansai Gaidai students how the puppet master makes expressive faces with the doll head. Then, the students learned in groups of three how to manage a complete doll as a team, one at the head and right hand, one at the left hand, and one at the feet. All the students remarked how heavy the dolls are, and they were impressed by the tightly controlled teamwork that moving the dolls requires.

Taking in the traditional air of the theater backstage was exhilarating. The students were struck both by the lovely mood of olden-times behind the curtain, and also by the up-to-the-minute mechanical equipment of the theater.

Dr. Lyle Barkhymer, Asian Studies Program