Wood Bunraku puppets are made of wood and range in height from one to four feet. The puppets do not have complete bodies; only the heads, hands, legs, and feet are made. These are linked together with twine, and the torso is represented by a kimono. Inside the head you will find glass eyes that are attached with cotton. They need to be cleaned regularly because without glasses on your face everyone can see that you are wearing masks.
Bunraku is a form of Japanese theatre that uses puppetry to tell stories. It is believed that it was developed in the 16th century by an actor named Shōgun Mitsurugi who used carved wood figures as actors. After his death, his son Kunimasa continued developing the art until its widespread use in Japan today.
Bunraku is performed on a stage with a tatami floor. The acting takes place between scenes, when the puppet characters are removed from the stage. Then new characters are put in their places. At the end of the play there is a final scene where everything is revealed.
The word "bun" means mask in Japanese while "raku" means charcoals in English. Therefore, bunraku means "theatre using masks over charcoals".
Bunraku, or puppet theater, is a traditional Japanese puppet theater that goes back to the Edo period, in which puppets were operated by various persons to entertain the audience, accompanied by music and narrative. While it may appear that controlling puppet dolls is simple, the art of bunraku demonstrates that this is not the case. In fact, mastering bunraku requires many years of training.
In addition to being a form of entertainment, bunraku plays an important role in the ceremonial arts. During festivals honoring the god of literature, bunraku performances are held to request good fortune for farmers and others involved with business. Also during special ceremonies at Shinto shrines, bunraku artists perform for the gods and pray for their approval of what will follow.
Puppetry was first introduced to Japan from China where it was developed into two entirely separate systems: one using wooden puppets manipulated by string actors who spoke all their own lines; the other using cloth puppets manipulated by kabuki actors who speak through memorized scripts.
In Japan, people began combining elements of both systems to create their own unique style. This new style was called "bunraku" meaning "from China". It is now considered one of the official artistic traditions of Japan.
A bunraku performer is called chōchin (秒滴). There are different grades of chōchin, depending on how experienced they are.
It was a traditional standard for Japanese ladies not to reveal their feet when Bunraku was founded. That custom is still maintained. One character may have five or more distinct heads designed for them to indicate emotional or physical changes.
Bunraku puppetry is an ancient art that has been popular in Japan for over 500 years. It uses hand-carved wooden puppets strung on wires and manipulated by blacksmith's swords (or shamisen strings) while a singer/musician plays a role of music. Although women were originally excluded from this profession, now there are many female puppet performers.
In the early days of Bunraku, male puppeteers wore padded jackets called chōmonjū which provided support for the puppets they were going to use. Female puppeteers did not wear such garments and so could manipulate heavier dolls. Over time, men began to emulate women's costumes; today even those who perform only female characters often do not wear chōmonjū.
There are several reasons why female Bunraku puppets are never shown with feet. First of all, it was a traditional standard for Japanese ladies not to reveal their feet when Bunraku was founded.