Hakusanroku Journal 白山麓ジャーナル

July 15, 2020 文弥人形浄瑠璃 見学

Hello, it's Jonathan, the camera man. Today I would like to reflect on the second-year students' visit to see Bunya Ningyo-Joruri in Higashi-futakuchi. That was a lot Japanese so let me explain. Ningyo-Joruri is a Japanese traditional puppet show dating back to the Edo period. The name "Bunya" came from Okamoto Bunya, who was a Ningyo-Joruri reciter in the late 17th century. He was popular in Osaka for his melancholy narrative style, also referred to as "Naki-bushi (crying tone)." However, the Bunya style gradually subsided to the "Gidayuu-bushi" by Takemoto Gidayuu. Currently, Higashi-futakuchi is one of only four places that still practice "Bunya" Ningyo-Joruri. These places include Sado city (Niigata prefecture), Miyakonojo city (Miyazaki prefecture), and Satsumasendai city (Kagoshima prefecture).

It is said that a young scholar from Higashi-futakuchi learned Ningyo-joruri while studying in Kyoto and Osaka and brought the culture back to the village more than 350 years ago. The villagers instantly became hooked on this new entertainment. It was so popular that everyone quit gambling and drinking after this. Ningyo-joruri became a valuable source of distraction in the harsh winter months when the villagers could not farm and an amusement for the lunar New Year; and it has been passed down ever since.

The second year students visited Higashi-futakuchi, which is about 10 minutes by car from Hakusanroku Campus on June 25. First, Doishita-san and Yamaguchi-san gave an introduction of the history and current state of Bunya Ningyo-Joruri. Higashi-futakuchi village used to have more than one hundred houses and the villagers performed more than 40 stories. However, due to the mass migration to Hokkaido and young people leaving for the city, now there are only twelve houses and less than twenty people who continue the practice. Still, the village has preserved five stories and plays them each year in February.

After the introduction, students watched a shorten version of "Taishokkan." This story is about a shogun who fights a dragon lord of Ryugu castle to protect the gemstone "Menko-fuhai-no-tama". The dragon lord's warlord first tries to defeat the shogun in battle. When this fails, he next transforms into a beautiful maiden and tricks the shogun into giving him the gemstone. The ancient Japanese narrative was difficult to follow. However, the action and acting was surprisingly fascinating, and I could sense the students being drawn into the performance. I was especially impressed by the way the performer moving the maiden made the puppet sob when pleading for the treasure and the way the performers stamped the stage floor during the battle scene to create tension.

After the performance, students were allowed to come behind the stage and touch the various puppets. The puppets were heavier than I expected which increased my respect for the performers holding them sometimes for multiple hours for a single show. Yamaguchi-san explained how to move the puppets and that the key is to hold the puppet up to your face so that the audience can only see the puppet. Student asked questions about how the puppets were made, the beautifully painted paper lamps in the hall, and the music played during the scene.

The second-year students are given the task of choosing a problem in the local Hakusanroku community in the Engineering Design class. After this visit to Higashi-futakuchi, three students decided to focus on the revitalization of Ningyo-joruri. The group will work together to solve problems such as lack of performers/successors, and difficulty to understand the storyline due to the old Japanese dialect next semester. I will make sure to keep you updated so stay tune.









HOMECampus LifeHakusanroku JournalEngineering Design (ED)July 15, 2020 文弥人形浄瑠璃 見学