25 Important Bunraku Teaching Resources

Bunraku puppet theatre is a traditional Japanese art form involving puppets, music and narration. Bunraku first came to prominence in the 17th century and continues to be performed today. Puppet dolls typically measure two to four feet high and are manipulated by puppeteers visible to the audience. A small shamisen (three-stringed Japanase lute) provides musical accompaniment during performances along with the narrator (tayu) who voices the puppets as well as chants. The tayu communicates the story to the audience while the use of the shamisen determines emotion in the drama. There are minimal props. Bunraku performances are normally in two parts, one in the early afternoon and the other in the late evening. The stage is divided into sections allowing partial concealment for the puppeteer. A single puppet typically takes three puppeteers to operate. – Justin Cash


Bunraku Resources

Article detailing the history of Bunraku, the various plays, puppets, puppeteers, narrators, music, and the stage.

Bunraku puppet theatre teaching resources from the University of California, Berkeley, covering various aspects of the art form including its history, puppets, puppeteers, music, stage and narration.

Floorplan and images of the typical Bunraku stage.

Brief historical overview of Bunraku from Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Useful educational resources on Bunraku covering its history, the stage, performers and puppet dolls.

Article with excellent image of the variety of puppet heads used in Bunraku for different characters.

Detailed history of Bunraku.

Bunraku puppetry lesson plan.

Concise explanation of the different elements of Bunraku and how they combine in performance.

Article about the rich history and uncertain future of Bunraku.

Article detailing the history of Bunraku, the various plays, puppets, puppeteers, narrators, music, and the stage.

Bunraku Puppet Theatre

Brief history of Bunraku, plus an explanation of the role of the puppeteers, musicians and the narrator in performance.

Handy set of Bunraku puppet theatre teaching resources from the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Wikipedia entry for Bunraku, including history, elements of the form, music, song, puppets and staging.

Comprehensive Bunraku fact sheet.

Fantastic 23-lesson teaching unit for Year 4-6 students on all aspects of Bunraku, culminating in a performance (.doc)

Bunraku lesson plan with video resources.

Detailed facts about many aspects of Bunraku puppet theatre.


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