Monday, August 23, 2010

Evening Out at the National Bunraku theather and Tea ceremony in Osaka March 27th

An evening at the National Bunraku theather
Bunraku is a form of puppet theater unique to Japan. Using traditional legends and plays originally written for Kabuki, the puppet theater has remained popular since its inception. Founded in the city of Osaka, Japan in 1684, bunraku has evolved to be a complex and popular form of theater.Traveling storytellers using puppets had long been a part of Japanese culture, but not until 1684 was the tradition articulated as a distinct form. Takemoto Gidayu formed his Osaka puppet theater with the help of the great playwright Chikematsu Monzaemon and a theater manager and financier named Takeda Izumo. Chikematsu concentrated on adapting kabuki plays for the new theater, concentrating on stories with themes of loyalty and other Confucian values. Using knowledge garnered from other puppet work, Takeda introduced innovations into the puppets’ mechanics, including moveable eyes and eyebrows.
Osaka has been the capital for bunraku, traditional Japanese puppet theater, for many centuries. The popularity of the theater form had grown in the city during the Edo Period when bunraku (like kabuki) was a rare kind of art entertainment for the common public rather than the nobility. 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.
The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, powdered green tea. In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯) or chadō (茶道; also pronounced sadō?). The manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called otemae (お手前; お点前; 御手前?). Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the tea ceremony.
Tea gatherings are classified as ochakai (お茶会?) or chaji (茶事?). Chakai is a relatively simple course of hospitality that includes the service of confections, thin tea (薄茶 usucha?), and perhaps a light meal (点心 tenshin?). Chaji is a more formal gathering, usually with a full-course meal (kaiseki), followed by confections, thick tea (濃茶 koicha?), and thin tea. A chaji may last up to four hours.
The tea ceremony (sado: "the way of the tea") is a ceremonial way of preparing and drinking tea. The custom has been strongly influenced by Zen Buddhism.
Nowadays, the tea ceremony is a relatively popular hobby. Many Japanese, who are interested in their own culture, take tea ceremony lessons. Tea ceremonies are held in traditional Japanese rooms in cultural community centres or private houses.
The ceremony itself consists of many rituals that have to be learned by heart. Almost each hand movement is prescribed. Basically, the tea is first prepared by the host, and then drunk by the guests. The tea is bitter matcha green tea made of powdered tea leaves.

Tea ceremony equipment:
Some of the most important instruments.
(Chasen: bamboo brush for tea preparation)