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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Mar.)


“Bunrakuza joruri puppet show,” Open the precious image from the late phase of Taisho era to the public

Theater Museum obtained the oldest Bunraku image in existence

“Honcho Jushiko” Jyushu-ko

The Theater Museum Global COE program (Director/Program leader: Professor Mikio Takemoto, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences) purchased 3 rolls of film (35 mm, black and white, no sound, appx. 42 minutes) from Mus辿e D辿partmental Albert Kahn in France. It is the “Bunrakuza joruri puppet show,” a short film produced by Schociku Kinema in July 1921 and was open to public for only 7 days at Meiji-za, Tokyo, in August 1921. It also has a few additional clips. Although the details were unknown, it is suspected that the film was exported to France.

Eminent actors who were active in the late phase of Taisho such as Kotsubodayu Toyotake II (later, Yamashiro-no-shojo Toyotake), Seiroku Tsurusawa III, Eizo Yoshida I, Bungoro Yoshida III (later, Naniwajo Yoshida) were in the film. It is believed that the film is not only the oldest film about Bunraku in existence but has the longest recording time.

This is the primary information source for the research on Bunraku as well as early Japanese films. In the future, the film will be further studied from the theater and image aspects. This film was open to the researchers, many students and public on December 22 at the COE program’s research briefing session in the Ono Auditorium.