Tuesday 8 April 2014

Bunraku theatre

Day 8 - aboard the Xinjianzhen, approximately 33.7° N, 131.5° E, 2153 kilometres travelled (note the English spelling - Ruth here)

We're currently on the ferry between Osaka and Shanghai; we're two of three westerners on board and get peculiar looks from most of the passengers. Why I'm not sure: they are the ones jogging round the canteen and singing karaoke in their pyjamas. It's going to be a long 48 hours.
Back to the food; we succeeded  in our Tenkatsu mission, joining 20 others waiting in line outside Katsakura Kyotoekibiru on the 11th floor above Kyoto station. It was worth the wait for a delicious feast of pork tenderloin, rice, finely-sliced cabbage and a sweet spicy sauce you make yourself by grinding sesame seeds with a pestle in a special rushed bowl and adding the various ingredients on the table to your taste. It made up for the trauma of offal stew - almost. [Almost? It definitely did - Julian]
Apart from the food, there have been a few other highlights of our week in Japan and our trip to the National Bunraku theatre in Osaka was definitely one. Bunraku is a form of puppet theatre with three-quarter scale puppets each controlled by three onstage puppeteers, and along with Noh and Kabuki is one of the main forms of theatre in Japan.
We just went to the second half of the performance, which was still 5 hours long! It was an enthralling story about Samurai, with love, betrayal, deception and sacrifice as the main themes. Within an hour the puppeteers had disappeared from our consciousness and all we paid attention to was the puppets who moved with such grace and precision that they seemed renal. The narrative is told through a mixture of singing and chanting by a musician who sits to the side of stage; for the first twenty minutes it was really grating and I thought it was going to be the longest 5 hours of my life, but the skill of the narrators in conveying the emotion of the puppets was incredible.
Highly recommended if you ever get the chance - it's as good as Avenue Q, but very different!!

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