By Ho Johnny Chun Yin
Discover BUNRAKU – Discovering Japanese culture
The reason for me to apply for the Bunraku show was at the first glance: the big “shogun-like” puppet printed on the poster. In Chinese culture, we also have this kind of show, in which puppets interact to tell stories, with background music and singing of the story. But the puppet here in Japan seems to be more detailed in design, lively, and bigger in size, giving an image to audience a real ancient people. As a person who is in love with Japanese culture, I was so eager to see the difference – and I am glad I did that.
This was the first time I stepped into the National Theatre in Japan, and we were able to seat at the front seats. The show started with an hour of detailed introduction, how several black-masked puppeteer works as a team to control different parts of a single puppet, how the Shamisen player plays music by feeling the mood of the Narrator, and different movement (e.g. walking, laughing, angry) of the puppet were shown. It was so entertaining and informative, providing a ground for us to enjoy the show better.
The story of the show also shocked me: a teacher killed one of the students so that the body can be used to cover a fake “death” of his lord, protecting his lord with all means. I really can feel the loyalty in Japanese culture from the lively puppet and the narrator’s voice, which expresses emotions of the characters, especially when the mother of the student cried and during the tense discussion between the teacher and his wife on whether they should do the killing.
The show was so interesting, interactive and informative. All my friends I went with enjoyed it very much. The little gift given to everyone at the end was also a surprise. I would recommend the show to anyone interested in Japanese culture, or those just having a free time and want to see a show. It would definitely triggers you to see the next Bunraku!!
Ho Johnny Chun Yin