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Bunraku Performance for Beginners / Bunraku Performance for Beginners (Evening)

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

    Ninin Kamuro
    Guidance (in Japanese)
    Ashiya Doman Ouchi Kagami

    Performance Dates
    December 3 (Thu.) - December 15 (Tue.)

    Performance Time
    11:00 a.m.- 12:40 p.m.
    2:00 p.m.- 3:40 p.m.  ※except 4 (Fri.), 11 (Fri.), 13 (Sun.), 14 (Mon.)

    Bunraku Performance for Beginners (Evening)
    December 4 (Fri.) and 11 (Fri.)  7:00 p.m.- 8:40 p.m.

    Discover BUNRAKU (in English)
    December 14 (Mon.)  7:00 p.m.- 9:10 p.m.
    Discover BUNRAKU

    Venue : National Theatre(Small Theatre)

    *End times are estimates and may vary..
    *Audio guide: Available for rent in Japanese. 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.
    *There will be no intermission.

    Tickets(Tax included)
    Adults = 4,100 yen
    Students = 1,600 yen
    Seating plan

    Booking Opens
    November 14, 2020 

    Counter Sales at the Theatre 
    November 15, 2020

    Bunraku Performance

    Discover BUNRAKU

    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.

    in Japanese

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

    1.Ninin Kamuro

        In woodblock prints showing ‘oiran’ courtesans parading in the pleasure quarters such as Yoshiwara in Edo (Tokyo), you will often see one or two very young girls in attendance. These were the ‘kamuro’, described in English by various terms, such as ‘young female maids’ and ‘apprentice geisha’. They appear to have been invaluable assistants, not only running errands and encouraging male customers, but also acting as the eyes and ears of the courtesans who spent most of their time indoors away from prying eyes.

    Unsigned (19th century

        Ninin Kamuro is a charming modern dance (1947) based on the 1785 Hane no Kamuro dance for a solo Kabuki actor. Two kamuro celebrate the New Year in the traditional way by playing shuttlecock and battledore as their ‘big sister’takes a nap.

    Toyonobu (mid-18th Century)

    FYI: ‘Hana kamuro’ (sweet beans in soft senbei shaped like a woman’s hat for the Awa-odori dance on the island of Shikoku) are on sale at the National Bunraku Theatre in Osaka. They feature a kamuro on the packet.

    2. Guidance in Japanese

    3. Ashiya Doman Ouchi Kagami

        Part Ⅲ features a full performance of a famous act from the play Ashiya Doman Ouchi Kagami. First performed in 1734, it’s a work with supernatural elements that has a special place in history as the very first in which each of the main puppets was handled by a team of three operators.

        This development had tremendous effects on the lifelike appearance that could be created, not least of which was the addition of feet and the illusion that the characters were really walking and sitting. This was further enhanced when movable mouths, fingers, eyebrows and eyes were introduced shortly afterwards. The ‘Golden Age of Puppet Theatre’ that followed included the creation of three masterpieces: Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (1746), Yoshitsune Senbonzakura (1747) and Kanadehon Chushingura (1748).

        Ashiya Doman Ouchi Kagami is based on a 10th century legend involving the rivalry of master court astrologers. One of them, Ashiya Doman, appears in Kuzunoha Kowakare as a small insect-killing boy called Doji. Foxes have long been imbued with magical powers, including the ability to transform themselves into humans, and the boy’s mother, Kuzunoha, is actually a fox in disguise. At the heart of the Act is her gradual return to vulpine form. Before her emotional parting from her son, she writes a poem to him and his father on the shoji doors, holding the brush in her mouth.

    If you miss Kuzunoha,

    In Shinoda Forest,

    In Izumi Province,

    You will find her,

    Filled with regrets.

    Kuzunohana parts with Doji (Kunichika, mid-19th century)

        The actual writing cannot be done effectively on the Bunraku stage, so it’s left to our imagination, but there are other spectacular effects in store, proving just how cool Bunraku can be (no spoilers).

        Incidentally, according to the legend, father and son did go and find Kuzunoha in the forest, and, thanks to her, little Doji was able to understand the language of animals, just like Dr. Dolittle.

    (All prints from the Varnam-Atkin Collection)