English Top > Performance Schedule > National Theatre > Bunraku Performance for Beginners / Discover BUNRAKU


Bunraku Performance for Beginners / Discover BUNRAKU

  • Small
  • Bunraku
  • Organizer

    National Theatre (Small Theatre)
    Bunraku Performance for Beginners(in Japanese)

    Date Musume Koi no Higanoko
    Introduction to BUNRAKU(in Japanese)
    Heike Nyogo no Shima

    Performance Date
    December 3 (Tue.) - December 15 (Sun.)

    Performance Time
    11:00 a.m.- 1:02 p.m.
    2:00 p.m.- 4:02 p.m.  ※except 4 (Wed.), 6 (Fri.), 8 (Sun.), 9 (Mon.), 14 (Sat.)

    Discover BUNRAKU(in English)
    December 9 (Mon.)  7:00 p.m.- 9:02 p.m.
    December 14 (Sat.)  7:00 p.m.- 9:02 p.m.

    →details of "Discover Bunraku"

    Venue : National Theatre(Small Theatre)

    *A Japanese audio guide rental service is included in the ticket price of this program. Click here for details.
    *Subtitles in Japanese will be displayed on the screen above the stage.
    *English synopsis is available. Please ask at the reception desk.
    *End times are estimates and may vary.

    PartⅠ: Date Musume Koi no Higanoko
    PartⅡ: “How to Appreciate Bunraku”
    PartⅢ: Heike Nyogo no Shima

    Tickets(Tax included)
    Adults = 4,100 yen
    Students = 1,500 yen

    Seating plan

    Booking Opens
    November 7, 2019 

    Counter Sales 
    November 8, 2019
    Box Office
     +81-3-3230-3000 (10:00 - 18:00(JST))in Japanese and English

    Internet Reservations : https://ticket.ntj.jac.go.jp/top_e.htm

    What's BUNRAKU?
    BUNRAKU is one of the representative traditional performing arts in Japan, designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2003.
    Please see An Invitaion to Bunraku to learn more about BUNRAKU.

    A View from the Stalls
    (by Stuart Varnam-Atkin, Japanologist and writer)

    The Greengrocer’s Daughter
     Part I, which features demonstrations by the performers in Japanese, will start with a short but highly dramatic scene which has often been performed abroad. If you missed seeing it in Boston, L. A. and other American cities in 2007, Bangkok in 2014, Ho Chi Minh City in 2018, or the amazing Hachioji Kurumaningyo (wheeled puppeteers) version in Takao in August, you now have the chance to see it in Tokyo in December.
     I refer to the climactic Hinomi Yagura (The Fire Watchtower) act from Date Musume Koi no Higanoko), an extraordinary Bunraku play that was based on an amazing true story about a 16-year-old greengrocer’s daughter called Oshichi. She fell in love with a priest when her family’s house burned down, and then set fire to a neighbour’s house in a desperate attempt to meet the priest again, knowing she could be sentenced to death for arson. Sure enough, she was burned at the stake, just like Joan of Arc. In the play the girl doesn’t start another fire, but she still sacrifices herself to save the man she loves with such tremendous passion.
     Often performed by itself, the act has been given various flamboyant English titles which suggest it’s a comic melodrama, such as ‘A Maiden’s Flaming Love’ and ‘Red-hot Love of the Greengrocer’s Daughter’. But this is actually very serious stage business. I really should avoid spoilers, but I can’t help saying that whether the scene is performed by a puppet, an actor, or even an actor pretending to be a puppet (in a strange Kabuki reversal of the original puppet-to-actor evolution), it doesn’t get much more dramatic than this: to the dull thudding of a drum and the distant echo of a temple bell, and with the snow falling, a teenage girl in a colourful kimono struggles to climb up the frozen rungs of a watchtower ladder, frenetically tossing her long hair…

    (Varnam-Atkin Collection)

    Iwai Hanshiro V as Oshichi, holding a lotus blossom,
    with the Hyogo watchtower behind (Kunisada, 1852)

    300 Years of Shunkan

     Part Ⅲ of the event will feature Kikai-ga Shima, a famous act from Heike Nyogo no Shima, the popular masterpiece written by the great playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725). This will commemorate the 300th anniversary of its first performance in Osaka in 1719. The play focuses on the tragic events surrounding an actual historical figure, the high priest Shunkan, who was exiled to a remote island with two fellow aristocrats after their failed conspiracy to overthrow the leader of the Heike clan. The act is named after the island (which literally means ‘The Island of Demons’), but it’s commonly known as Shunkan.
    Watching this powerful performance will perhaps make it clear why Chikamatsu has long been known as the ‘Shakespeare of Japan’. The playwrights both found their themes in contemporary life as well as the chronicles of past events. This play is derived from a story in the 13th century Heike Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike), as is December’s main Bunraku programme (Ichinotani Futaba Genki).
     It includes passion, compassion, companionship, love, hope, remorse, relief, revenge, respect, rage, cruelty, arrogance, loneliness, anticipation, disappointment, shock, sadness, and despair…

     Chikamatsu plumbs the psychological depths, and the onstage emotions ebb and flow like the Prussian blue waves of the Pacific Ocean that serve as the striking backdrop.
     Chikamatsu considers what it is to be human, to be alive, and to co-exist with others, using exquisite language and a fine sense of dramatic flow, including some surprises and truly shocking moments.
     Top performers, a variety of costumes, a spectacular mobile set, emotional dialogue, and a heartbreaking climax… It’s sure to be a thrilling and moving experience.

    in Japanese