There is no dress code at Bunraku theatres. Please be seated before the performance starts, and refrain from entering and exiting the theatre in the middle of the performance. Refrain from talking and making noise so as not to disturb other members of the audience. Drinking, eating, taking photographs, and recording audio and video are prohibited during the performance.
During the performance
While there are no rules for watching Bunraku, there are ways to make your viewing experience more enjoyable. Even just knowing ahead of time the storyline of the play and the names of the characters will help you understand the development of the plot. You may find that the performance becomes even more intriguing if you focus your attention to whatever that interests you, such as the movement of the dolls, the recitation method of the narrator, and the way that the shamisen is played.
Items for additional enjoyment
Program and libretto (yukahon)
Programs of the production are sold at the National Bunraku Theatre and the National Theatre. They explain the storyline of the plays, the cast, as well as what to watch out for and listen to, and will assist your viewing experience. The program comes with a separate booklet containing the text of the narrator's narration entitled, "Compilation of Librettos (Yukahonshu)." A read-through of this booklet will give you a better understanding of the content of the narration.
Audio guides may be rented for a fee at the theatre. Explanations are provided in sync with the progression of the story, including the storyline, cast, costumes, props, and conventions unique to Bunraku. The audio guides are available in both Japanese and English for the major productions staged at the National Bunraku Theatre and the National Theatre.