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Updated on December 10, 2010

Joruri is Japanese puppet drama. Joruri, also called bunraku, originated in the late 16th century and achieved its greatest popularity in the 18th century. The puppets are about half life-size, and each one is manipulated by three men. Although the men who move the dolls appear on stage in full view, they are meant to be ignored by the audience, which concentrates on the actions of the puppets. The dialogue is provided by a narrator, who chants and recites the words to the accompaniment of music. Many elements of the joruri theater, including some of the plays written for the puppets, were borrowed by the popular kabuki drama. One of the greatest Japanese dramatists, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, wrote outstanding puppet dramas, which were later adapted for the kabuki stage.


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