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Discover BUNRAKU|BUNRAKU for Beginners

December 14, 2021  6:00 pm (Scheduled to end at 8:00 pm)
TICKET PRICE (including tax)
4,500 yen / Students 1,800 yen
Online Sale & Telephone Reservation
from November 14 10:00 am
Box Office Sale
from November 15 10:00 am
Buy tickets
0570-07-9900 (Domestic call only)|03-3230-3000 (IP phone & International calls)
'What's Bunraku'


For those who have not had the time to go to a Bunraku (traditional Japanese puppet theater) performance or the opportunity to attend one with a friend – the National Theatre is pleased to present Discover BUNRAKU a two-part event that includes both commentary and the performance of a Bunraku masterpiece but in a shorter format. We look forward to welcoming you at the Theatre for this wonderful introduction to Bunraku!

  1. Guidance in English:Charms of Bunraku

    What type of performing art is Bunraku? Which characteristics are inherent to Bunraku? Are you a Bunraku beginner? If so, no need to worry! Prior to our onstage performance, we will offer enlightening commentary on the charms of Bunraku along with demonstrations of this art.

  2. Performance:‘Nozakimura’from Shinpan Uta Zaimon

    The scene is at Nozakimura village, a rural community located near Osaka. Omitsu, a daughter in a rural farming household, is looking forward to marrying her fiancé Hisamatsu. One day Hisamatsu, who serves as an apprentice at the Aburaya in Osaka, returns to Nozakimura. However, it turns out that he is deeply in love with Osome, the only daughter of the owner of the Aburaya. Osome then makes her appearance at Omitsu’s house in the village, running after Hisamatsu. Meanwhile, Hisamatsu’s foster father Kyūsaku is preparing to hold the wedding ceremony of Hisamatsu and Omitsu. Admonished by Kyūsaku, Hisamatsu and Osome decide to break up. However…you’ll just have to see the performance to learn their fates!

    This Bunraku piece portrays the everyday life of people in Japan’s early modern period, and has served to pass down the appeal of Japanese culture for generations. Please enjoy this Ningyō Jōruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater) masterpiece, which culminates in a poignant ending in which Omitsu’s firm resolution is sure to stir your emotions.

Multi-Language Services
A free audio guide in English or Japanese is available for this program,
along with English subtitles and a free multilingual booklet (in English,
Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French and Japanese)
that includes the highlights and outline of the story.


BUNRAKU is one of Japan’s representative traditional performing arts, designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2003.

It was in Osaka that Bunraku has been developed over 300 years. It is a closely collaborative form which synchronizes narrative recitation, shamisen music and puppetry in performance and is praised as the most highly sophisticated puppet theater art in the world. The narrator, Tayū, portrays not only the voices and emotions of all characters but also the locations and seasonal scenes of the story by himself. Shamisen player acts out the lines of the play and the characters’ appearance and personality. One puppet is operated by three puppeteers, which is very unique in the world. The main puppeteer manipulate the head and right hand, and the left hand and legs are operated by each puppeteer.

For details, please see Invitation To Bunraku . You can learn more about BUNRAKU before the performance.

Invitation to Bunraku



It is a pleasure and an honor to be your navigator for this year’s Discover BUNRAKU program here at the National Theatre. Hopefully, the past nearly two years of living in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic will soon be coming to an end and we will be able to resume our normal lives again and attend events like this without fear of becoming sick.

The first time I saw Bunraku was in Osaka many years ago, before I was living in Japan. I had read about Bunraku puppet theater and seen videos of it in a Japanese drama class I took while a graduate student, so I had an idea of what to expect. Despite my not speaking Japanese, let alone being able to read it, and even though there was no English audio guide, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, the colorful costumes, the way the puppets almost seemed to be alive, even with men on stage in full view operating the puppets. I hope everyone here today will have a similarly great experience!

Navigator David Conklin

David was born grew up in Portland, Oregon. Years after completing his under-grad studies at Oregon State University, in his mid-40s Dave returned to school and earned an MA in Japanese history from Portland State University, the topic of his MA thesis being the history of Japanese food in pre-WWII Oregon. He has been living in the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo for about fifteen years where he continues to research and write about food culture. He has written for and appeared in numerous Japanese food magazines and written a book about his experiences with food published in Japanese as “コンクリンさん大江戸を食べつくす” (Mr. Conklin Eats His Way Around Old Tokyo). Until the recent pandemic, Dave also conducted food and historical tours.


Online Sale & Telephone Reservation
from Sunday, November 14 2021 10:00 am
Box Office sale
from Monday, November 15 2021 10:00 am
4,500 yen / Students 1,800 yen (including tax)
Buy Tickets
Box Office

OPEN 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

0570-07-9900 (Domestic call only)

(IP phone & International calls)


National Theatre (Tokyo)

4-1 Hayabusa-cho, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo 102-8656

Telephone : 03-3265-7411

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