Bunraku puppetry is a complex artistic puppetry technique accompanied by narrative chanting and music. Each nearly life-sized puppet requires three puppeteers to bring it to life.
Sonoma Cultural Exchange organized the Bunraku Ningyo California tour with the world-renowned bunraku performer Kanroku and his Osaka-based Mokugu-sha company presenting both a work from the traditional canon and contemporary pieces.
The tour venues included UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California in the Bay Area.
Kanroku and the Mokugusha demonstrated and performed at the San Francisco State University.
The group demonstrated and performed for the Adele Harrison Middle School, St. Francis Solano Catholic School and the Sonoma Academy.
The students learned how the doll was manipulated by three puppeteers.
The group also collaborated with the dancers from the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and performed at a private home. At the end of the tour, the group performed at the San Luis Obispo Little Theater.
In 2006, the Master puppeteer, Kanroku, started his own Bunraku company, Mokugu-sha. While pursuing contemporary projects and collaborating with other artists, he also continues to teach and practice classical pieces. Traditionally and still the current reality is that bunraku is performed only by male puppeteers, yet, Kanroku's mission is to share the art of Bunraku Nyngyo with everyone including the female puppeteers.
Several of our Bunraku performances featured special guest and collaborator, Native American artist Sage Andrew Romero, a member of the Tovowahamatu Numu (Big Pine Paiute) and Tuah-Tahi (Taos Pueblo) Tribes. He is an accomplished Hoop Dancer and has traveled internationally sharing the culture of his people through song, story, dance and art.
Sage also strives to be a positive role model for the Native youth and lives a life of Sobriety away from Drugs and Alcohol. Through culture he hopes to instill pride within the youth so they may continue carrying on the traditions on for future generations. For more information about Sage, please click here.