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Osaka's National Bunraku Theatre to offer English workshop in June

The classic bunraku play "Ehon Taikoki" (The Tycoon's Pictorial Biography) is performed in this undated photo courtesy of the National Bunraku Theatre.

OSAKA -- The National Bunraku Theatre will be holding its "Discover Bunraku" introduction event to traditional Japanese puppetry here for the third year in a row on June 16.

Bunraku puppetry, a representative of Japan's traditional arts with a history of more than 300 years, was designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2003. The theater has been offering bunraku appreciation events since its opening in 1984, and holds "Bunraku Performance for Beginners" programs each summer. This year's shows will run from June 8 to 21, with the special "Discover Bunraku" event geared toward foreign visitors slated for June 16 at 2 p.m. at the theater in Osaka's Chuo Ward.

The 2018 program not only includes "The ABC of Bunraku" in English and Japanese that is the core of the event introducing the basics of the traditional puppet theater, but also a festive dance, "Ninin Sambaso," that prays for peace and a bountiful harvest. It also offers a performance of the play "Ehon Taikoki" (The Tycoon's Pictorial Biography), which follows the historical tale of a revolt from the 16th century.

This year, the English-language "navigator" for the event will be Kaishi Katsura, a performer of the classic Japanese sit-down comedy rakugo who has presented his own traditional storytelling in English for over 20 years -- not only in Japan, but across 25 countries. He was recognized for his efforts by being selected as a Japan Cultural Envoy in 2007. Katsura is also a fan of bunraku and hopes that his background in the lighthearted comedy of rakugo will help to create more fans of bunraku -- both arts deeply connected to Osaka.

Aside from Katsura's presentation, the performance of "Ehon Taikoki" will have English subtitles projected above the stage for the event, English audio guides will be available free of charge and a synopsis of the story will be available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Korean at the reception desk. For more information about the event, visit the English-language website for the workshop at http://www.ntj.jac.go.jp/english/schedule/national-bunraku-theatre/2018/discover_bunraku_2018.html.

Tickets for the event are 3,900 yen for general admission and 1,300 yen for students. The box office is now open both online and over the phone, and tickets can be purchased by calling the National Theatre Ticket Center at 0570-07-9900 or visiting http://ticket.ntj.jac.go.jp/top_e.htm.

(By Alina Kordesch, Staff Writer)

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