National Bunraku Theater

Attraction 1-12-10, Nippon-bashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0073, Japan Published on: 28-07-2016

3 hours
11:00 AM - 09:00 PM
06:00 PM
08:00 PM
First-time visit
Attraction
Family
Landmark
Performance
Must see
Kids
Art
30.00 - 60.00 USD

National Bunraku Theater is good for

Good for family with kids Family with kids Good
Good for senior Senior Good
Good for couple Couple Good
Good for solo Solo Good
Good for group Group Good
  • Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
National Bunraku Theatre is a complex consisting of two halls and an exhibition room. The complex was opened in 1984, to become the headquarters of bunraku.

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Why National Bunraku Theater is special ?

The National Bunraku Theatre is a complex consisting of two halls and an exhibition room, located in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The complex was opened in 1984 as the fourth national theatre of the country, to become the headquarters of bunraku. The Japan Arts Council, an Independent Administrative Institution of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, operates the National Theatre.


The National Bunraku Theater in Osaka is one of the few places to view the fascinating art form today. English programs and earphones are available. Performances are usually held in three week runs in January, April, June, July/August and November.

What to explore at National Bunraku Theater?

You can see and feel much of the action from the muppets/puppet masters themselves - actions did speak louder than words. The coordination among the puppet masters (there are three puppeteers for each puppet) was amazing.

There are a few logistical concerns though. First, be prepared for a 3-4 hour play if you want to see it from beginning to end. Actually, the play takes an entire day - so you buy tickets for either half of the play, so you can actually sit there for eight hours - if you want. Second, some acts are quite long - one act was nearly 1.5 hours in length (while another was 20 minutes), so be sure to go to the restroom after each act. Third, if you go at the 4:30 PM showing, there's a good chance you'll get hungry. There are two sets of intermissions. One intermission was 5 minutes in length and another was nearly 30 minutes in length. The Japanese theater-goers came prepared unlike me. Most brought their own dinner - bento box and ate in the area outside the theater during the long break. So you may want to bring your own dinner or perhaps buy dinner at the theater which didn't seem very enticing. Not many people seemed to buy dinner at the theater so that is not a good sign.

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How to get to National Bunraku Theater?

Subway:

5 minutes walk from Hanzomon Station (Hanzomon Line), 10 minutes walk from Nagatacho Station (Yurakucho / Hanzomon / Namboku Line)

Tokyo metropolitan bus:

1 minute walk from Miyakezaka of To03Line (Harumifuto-Yotsuya Station),Shuku75Line (Shinjuku Station West exit - Miyakezaka)

Selling points

  • Traditional Puppet Show
  • Unique, one of a kind experience
  • Great place for family with kids
  • Great place to know more Japanese culture
  • Great puppet
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Duration
6.0 days
Estimated
146.26 USD
Total travel distance
km
Number of places
18 places

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Location

Address

1-12-10, Nippon-bashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0073, Japan

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Tips for you

  • Along with Osakan Bunraku performed here, there are frequent manzai, shamisen, and rakugo shows (all traditional forms of entertainment) in the smaller of the two halls.
    Performance
  • You can bring your camera to caught the fascinating view in the theatre.
    Photography
  • You should pay for the translator in your native language if you don't speak Japanese. It's worth every penny so you can follow the story.
    Service
  • You should visit the official website to get more information about schedule.
    Experience
  • Make sure to sit close to the stage, on the right if possible, and bring a bento lunch box to eat during the performance like the locals.
    Experience
  • Parking lot is available.
    Parking

Reviews

FourSquare View more

Get a back stage tour, usually available for groups

TripAdvisor View more

I'm certainly not a theater/Broadway type of person, so I typically would not visit this type of venue. However, I knew it was a unique aspect of Japanese culture and theater, so I decided to visit anyway. I purchased the tickets online - at the lowest rate (I recall it was 2300 yen), i.e. worst seats, and hoped for the best. You can also buy tickets for single acts, so that's another option for skeptical theater-goers. But you cannot buy single act tickets online. You can only buy single act tickets at the theater. The first 15 minutes in the theater were the most difficult for me as I was near to falling asleep. However, the storyline picked up for me and I was actually quite interested and entranced for the next 2.5 hours! My interest grew as the story progressed so I think you just need to make it through the initial hump. The storyline is quite complex and intricate. It was explained fairly well by the audio headsets that translated some of the action to English. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate everything said by the narrator, so you do feel like you're missing some of the story. However, it did suffice and the translation was interesting. Nevertheless, you do see and feel much of the action from the puppets/puppetmasters themselves - actions did speak louder than words. The coordination among the puppetmasters (there are three puppeteers for each puppet) was amazing. Actually, I thought the narrators were the stars of the performance as they evoked wide ranging emotion and put all their energy into the performance - it was simply amazing. Each person requires at least 10 years of training - and the lead puppeteer of the puppet requires the equivalent of 30 years of training. It was a one of a kind experience that I'll never forget. Unfortunately, my companion had to leave after 2.75 hours - and I had to leave as well - and I couldn't stay for the final act. There are a few logistical concerns though. First, be prepared for a 3-4 hour play if you want to see it from beginning to end. Actually, the play takes an entire day - so you buy tickets for either half of the play, so you can actually sit there for eight hours - if you want. Second, some acts are quite long - one act was nearly 1.5 hours in length (while another was 20 minutes), so be sure to go to the restroom after each act. Third, if you go at the 4:30 PM showing like I did, there's a good chance you'll get hungry. There are two sets of intermissions. One intermission was 5 minutes in length and another was nearly 30 minutes in length. The Japanese theater-goers came prepared unlike me. Most brought their own dinner - bento box and ate in the area outside the theater during the long break. We didn't know this - so obviously, I was famished 2.5 hours into the play (another reason why I left before the end of the play). So you may want to bring your own dinner or perhaps buy dinner at the theater which didn't seem very enticing. Not many people seemed to buy dinner at the theater so that is not a good sign. Finally, if you don't understand Japanese, I would highly suggest that you purchase the audio translation rental. I believe the rental price was about 600 yen or so.

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