Sunday, October 21, 2007


A few months ago, I made plans to see Bunraku: National Puppet Theater of Japan at the Japan American Theater in Little Tokyo (had to miss the changed team practice time, but oh well). My mother tells me she took us to see Bunraku the last time there was any kind of US tour: 1988. Glad I was able to see it this time around!

The performance was in three pieces, Datemusume Koi no Higanoko or Oshichi's Burning Love, which the program tells me was first performed in 1773. Then the program broke for an hour long guided tour through the various pieces of Bunraku, the chanters (narration, dialog, singing), the shamisen players (previously: Yoshida Brothers, and Shamisen Vs.)

Here's something similar to the background on and demo of the puppets we received:

Make sure you stay/jump to the demo at 5:24. We were told that these types of demos aren't choreographed. They're completely impromptu and triggered by the lead puppeteer with the others following along. Wow.

I haven't been able to find any similar stuff on the chanters, which is too bad. They talked about how they personify women vs. samurai vs. children, emphasizing at every step the theatrical elements of the performance as opposed to reality ("No children in Japan actually speak this way!").

An intermission, then the final performance: Tsubosaka Kannon Reigenki or Miracle at the Tsubosaka Kannon Temple.

Followed up with late lunch at Daikokua at the recommendation of a friend. It's billed as the best ramen in LA, and it very well might be. Spectacular! It all starts with the soup, and they make theirs from scratch, "boiling bones for nearly a full day." The pork was tender and rich. The noodles, delicious. We timed it right, getting there off-peak. We were able to sit at the bar right away (we still would have had to wait for a table). Mmmmm.... Can't talk.... Eating....


  1. I'm shunning you for not passing this cultural event information on to us. >:(

    We took Dora to Daikokuya a few months ago--my palate still remembers...

  2. As I explained to your wife, I don't actually have any recollection of agreeing to go to this event. My suspicion is that I wasn't informed about it until the week before when I got the "remember that next week is Bunraku."

    I think she counted on me not saying "You never told me anything about that..."

  3. I've started noticing some boring people around me and thinking, "This person would be better off with someone controlling their head and right hand." But then I realize that their new-found animation would be offset by a ninja-looking dude dressed in all black standing off to their right side and trying to look invisible. Then I wonder about how much time I've spent thinking about this and not curing diseases or fighting fires. Then I go get something to eat.

  4. Haiku:

    Puppeteers will trade
    animation for clutter.
    It must be lunch time.