The Costume Museum Kyoto Japan Costume History in Japan
The Edo Period  
148 - A doll of the Bunraku puppet show
The Costume Museum Kyoto JapanThe Costume Museum Kyoto Japan

1 obijime string
2 kuro-juzu-no obi band
3 kosode
4 shimada-mage
5 tate-musubi-no obi band
Generally speaking, a doll is the model of man's figure and it is common that the size is small. In the ancient Japan, the "haniwa", a clay figure, was made, and afterwards a doll was made in the form of a flat board and it was called "hitogata (=a man's form)". It was used for driving away evils, making wishes, and cursing. The professional people started to work a three-dimensional puppet called "kugutsu" around the 8th or 9th century. The purpose of the puppet play was to tell audience a divine message and a miracle. It was amusement-ized gradually and came to have a sense of art, however. Then the puppet play which was street art was connected with Joruri play narration, and the cooperation between the doll manipulaters and the narrators started. The birth of Joruri play was also in the middle of the Muromachi era. In early stages, it was a story-telling of the Tale of the Heike which was accompanied by the biwa music. The stringed instrument which descended from Ryukyu (=Okinawa) was improved and the samisen was made around the middle of the 16th century. The melody which was light and wore sadness was composed. The Joruri play developed as a narrative entertainment with the accompaniment of this new musical instrument . It was the beginning of Keicho period in the end of the 16th century that the Joruri play was combined with the puppet play. In the first year of Teikyo period[ 1684] , Takemoto Gidayu opened the Takemoto-za theater in Dohtonbori of Osaka. With the cooperation of Chikamatsu Monzaemon, his ningyo joruri was successful, and obtained high evaluation from the audience, and the Joruri play also became the another name of gidayu-bushi here. Moreover, his pupil's Toyotake Wakatayu opened Toyotake-za theate. Both of the theaters prospered and made the peak time called the"Take-Toyo (Takemoto & Toyotake) time. Both theaters were finally closed in the fourth year of Showa period[ 1767] . Then, during the years of Bunka in the beginning of the 19th century, Uemura Bunrakuken of Awaji-shima opened a theater of ningyo joruri at South Hashizume of the Kohzu bridge in Osaka. Then, when his theater was moved to somewhere else, it was named Bunraku-za theater. Although the other theater named Hikoroku-za was opened in the beginning of Meiji era, it was merged into Bunraku-za. "Bunraku" out of Bunraku-za came to be used as another name of ningyo joruri. In the beginning, the head of a puppet doll was made from the ground. It was changed into the wooden head by the craftsmen of Kyoto in early stages of the Edo era. With regard to how to manipulate a doll, there are two methods: using direct hands and using threads. The "plug-in system" which was operated by direct hands was changed, and ningyo joruri came to be operated by three persons: the "omo-zukai (=master worker)",the "hidari-zukai (=left worker)", and the "ashi-tsukai (=leg worker). It is the performance style of the present Bunraku. The doll of ningyo joruri consists of the head, a trunk, a hand, a leg, and the costume. The costume is dressed to the doll each time. A doll worker is in charge of the composition and the design of a pattern personally. Whatever the charm of a doll may be called, it is in the head; various heads are made according to the sex, age, status, and character of a doll. In order to create the lively expressions of the doll, various devices are given to the head: opening and closing of an eyelid, a motion of eyebrows, opening and closing of a mouth, change of a face.   The roles of joruri plays are classified into various characters: the "male part" which plays the leading role, the role of the old, a feminine role, a child's role, and a humorous role, and a special role, and a minor role. The head of the doll in the picture is the one of "oyama", the feminine role. The doll has the brilliance and sad feeling of a youg housewife. The hair is in the Shimada-mage style; the main features of the costume are the "kosode", kimono with short sleeves, made of gray silk crape with the "koshidaka" patterns, and a black Chu-tzu's "obi" band which is tied to horizontally. It lools like the style of a maid of a samurai family. The balck "obi" band is fastened by a red "obi-jime" string. The head in the photo is for usual young lady. Although the eyelids do not move, especially two legs are attached.   Although the "oyama" doll usually does not have legs, legs are attached to it plays a special role. The doll in the photo remains the figure of a young housewife in the late Edo era; it was produced in the Meiji era, however.