Invitation To  BUNRAKU

Bunraku Dolls: How the Dolls Work

Moving a doll

Body

Puppets have a simple structure. The shoulder board (kataita) and the bamboo hoop (dowa) are simply connected by fabric. A hole is opened in the center of the shoulder board so that the head-grip can be inserted. Dried loofahs are attached to both ends of the shoulder board to create the roundness of the shoulders. Strings connect the hands and the legs to the bamboo hoop respectively. 
 
 

Hands

 

The main puppeteer (Omo-zukai) moves the right hand. The left puppeteer (Hidari-zukai) moves the left hand using a rod called sashigane. For male puppets, a kase-te is used in which the five fingers are fused together and move in unison. Sometimes a special hand is used in which the fingers move separately. For female puppets, a momiji-te is used in which four fingers aside from the thumb move in unison. 
 
 

Legs

The puppeteer moves the legs of the male puppet by holding onto the key-shaped metal fitting behind the heel of the puppet (ashigane) . Depending on the scene, tabi socks and/or shoes are placed on the feet of the puppet. Female puppets usually do not have legs. The foot puppeteer places his fingers in the hem of the doll's robe and thrusts his fists forward, making it appear as though she is walking.