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26 February 2004: Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr Teiichi Sato on the occasion of the Ningyô Johruri Bunraku Performance


Bunraku puppet
Photo ©H. Kawahara


"Mr Director-General,

Distinguished UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a great pleasure to be with you tonight to attend a Ningyô Johruri Bunraku performance. Ranking along with Nô and Kabuki as one of Japan's foremost traditional stage arts, the Ningyô Johruri Bunraku puppet theatre is a blend of chanted narrative, instrumental accompaniment and puppet drama.


This traditional puppet theatre has an outstanding artistic, historical and anthropological value and, as such, it was proclaimed by UNESCO as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" in November 2003. By the refined and meticulous art of the puppets, the touching beauty of the vocal and instrumental accompaniment, the great skill of the puppeteers, the originality of its style, as well as the immense wave of dramatic tension it expresses, Bunraku is an exceptional testimony to humankind's creativeness.


Tonight's performance is divided into three parts, which enable us to discover various aspects of Bunraku. The first one, entitled "Manzai" is an episode from "The Celebration of the four seasons". First performed in 1809, this play illustrates "Gidayu", a style of Japanese musical narration. The second part is a presentation of the three elements comprising the Bunraku theatre - the narrators, the instrument and the puppets - and how they contribute to give it a remarkable capacity to express subtle human emotions. Lastly, in the third part, we will see an act of the play entitled "Osono" or "A tragic Love Triangle", which describes the melancholy of an abandoned woman.


I sincerely hope that this evening's performance will give you the opportunity to discover the great artistic value of this remarkable example of the world's intangible heritage.


Thank you for your kind attention. "



Ningyô Johruri Bunraku performance in UNESCO


Intangible Heritage in Japan





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