The common puppet heads used in the Ningyo Joruri Bunraku theatre have been classified into about 40 types according to the roles in the plays. However, many old puppet heads surviving in the Inadani region in southern Nagano Prefecture are so diverse and characteristic that they deviate from the systematic classification and terminology of current Bunraku puppet heads. Those old puppet heads in the region seem to have been created freely. Nevertheless, in fact they were made following certain fixed patterns.
The puppet operators of the Inadani region strongly desired to act like the puppet masters in Osaka. My assertion, therefore, is that the old puppet heads should be classified according to the categories described in literature dating from the period when they were made (the middle of the Edo era: 1764-1788).
This paper attempts to verify that the puppet head categories written about in the Shibaigakuyazueshui (1804) and Jorurifu (1789-1800) are useful in creating classification for old puppet heads in the Inadani region.
This research on tachiyaku heads, which are the heads of good, middleaged men, is a follow-up to my already published paper on oyaji heads, the heads of old men.
In 1902, Kyoto Engeki Kairyo Kai, literally “The Theatre Improvement Organization in Kyoto”, was established. The aim of this organization was to reform conventional theatrical forms in order to modernize them, placing special weight on improving dramatic scripts. Takayasu Gekko, who has been regarded as an old-fashioned playwright of Kabuki, took a key role, as a matter of fact, in this new movement.
However, the activities of Kyoto Engeki Kairyo Kai ended after giving only three public performances. Although the organization used to focus on the pieces of Gekko, his drama was not staged in the organization's last public performance in 1903, in spite of having been nominated initially.
In this paper, I re-examined the relationship between Gekko and the organization, especially focusing on the meaning of the third and last public performance, which has never been examined in detail until now. This investigation shall clear out the reason why the movement failed, as well as the real reason which disturbed modernization of Japanese theatre at that time. This is an attempt of reassessing the playwright Takayasu Gekko in the context of the theatre history in Japan.
In this paper I will re-evaluate Hanako using materials from both the West and Japan.
The first point to note is that Hanako had begun her career not only as a geisha but also as a child actor in female actors' companies before she went to the West. At the same time, since all professional Kabuki actors were men, female actors had to model themselves on their male counterparts and thus Hanako learned traditional Japanese acting techniques such as mie or how to perform hara-kiri.
The American producer Loie Fuller made Hanako perform hara-kiri scenes at first, but it was Hanako's resolution to keep performing those scenes until the end of her career. They were good opportunities for Hanako to display her technique, and Western and Russian artists were indeed impressed by her skills.
Although Japanese journalists spoke ill of her appearance, their criticism was in fact a proof of her talent as an actress. Hanako was certainly the actress who brought ‘Japan’ in the early 20th century and it may safely be said that she left a strong image of the typical Japanese actor, who was skilful and versatile, to the Western audience prior to the arrival of authentic Kabuki actors.