”Discover Japan” series: Otome Bunraku

posted in: 未分類 | 0

Date & Time: Sunday, November 25, 12:00p.m. −3:00 p.m.
Spots: Tsuzuki Minka-en
Visitors: Paraguayan and Korean students studying at Yokohama National University
Attendants: 2 KSGG members
Language: English

The visitors participated in the series of “Discover Japan” workshop, which focused on Kabuki two years ago, Kyougen/kotsuzumi*1 last year, and Otome Bunraku*2 this time. As other participants did not show up, only two students at Yokohama National University joined the workshop. They teach about Japan in their own countries and enthusiastically learned the traditional puppet play. While three male operators manipulate one puppet in Bunraku, Otome Bunraku is performed by only one female player. Thus, she utilizes her body from head to toe in order to operate the puppet: she uses her head, knees, arms, limbs and even abdomen.
The Otome-Bunraku performed this time was the play of Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees, which is also very popular in Kabuki. The puppet performed the dialogue between Shizuka and Sato Tadanobu against a backdrop of beautiful cherry blossoms. Shizuka is the heroine and lover of Yoshitune, the fugitive hero. Sato Tadanobu is the subordinate of Yoshitsune.
In the exercise session. Carlos, the Paraguayan student, who was chosen to manipulate the puppet even though he is a male. He wore the Otome Bunraku-gears for his head, knees, body, etc., and went up on stage, after he learned how to manipulate them briefly. Though it was quite difficult to make the puppet Mie(pronounced mi-e) do, a swaggering pose using his head and neck,he did a very good job and received a round of applause. Even the Director of Minka-en (the Museum of Traditional Private House) praised him.
After the workshop, Carlos visited a bamboo groove and Saikatsudo Iseki*3. He took a lot of videos and pictures with his cellphone. He said he would show them to his students in Paraguay. Hopefully the workshop will help him introduce a piece of Japanese culture to his distant country.

*1 Kyougen: A traditional comic drama
Kotsuzumi: Small hand drum
*2 Bunraku: A traditional puppet play
Otome Bunraku: Traditional puppet performance by women
*3 Saikatsudo Iseki: Archeological moat settlement