Japanese culture

The origins of noh, Japan?fs oldest theater form, go back to ancient times; but it was in the fourteen century that it began to flourish.Whereas kabuki and bunraku were for the common people, noh was for members of the warrior or samurai class.Noh is a lyric dance-drama performed on a special stage to the accompaniment of music.Dramatic elements are few: the principal characters wear masks and the dance-movements are performed slowly.
Kabuki have a number of unique points.One of these is the mawari butai (revolving stage) which permits almost instantaneous changes of scene.Another is the hanamichi; a long , narrow, walk-like extension of the stage that runs through the audience to the back of the theater.Although the actors often enter and exit via the hanamichi, it is not primarily a passageway but a device for permitting the actors come into closer contact with their audience.
Bunraku is one form of puppet theater.It has flourished since the seventeenth century and now stands with noh and kabuki as one of the three great classical forms of theater in Japan.Bunraku puppets consist of a head, trunk, hands, feet, and costume, and range in size from about a meter to a meter and a half.On the stage, each puppet is manipulated by three puppeteers.These puppeteers wear black robes with a flap that covers the face.One puppeteer manipulates the puppet?fs head and right hand, one the left hand, and one the feet.In the case of female dolls, which have no feet, the third man skillfully manipulates the skirts of the doll to give the impression of walking and other leg movements.The puppets perform the actions as the story is related in a special chant, called joruri, to the accompaniment of shamisen music.Because of this, bunraku is also called ningyo-joruri(puppet ballad-drama).


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