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“Amazing Puppetry But LONG!”

National Bunraku Theater
Ranked #48 of 930 things to do in Osaka
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: One of the few places where bunraku, traditional Japanese pupper theater, can be enjoyed, this theater combines the latest in theater technology with architectural elements from the Edo period in Japan.
Carson City, Nevada
Level Contributor
274 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 123 helpful votes
“Amazing Puppetry But LONG!”
Reviewed June 1, 2014

Purchased tickets as I had heard it was wonderful. I was not disappointed by the amazing puppetry and theater, but no one warned me about the length of performance. The play I attended was 4 hours in total. While amazing it was honestly just too long. BUT, I'd still suggest you go. It is a national icon, and quite frankly an artistry you will NOT find anywhere else in the world. Insider Tip: 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.

Visited November 2013
8 Thank GeauxFrogs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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112 reviews from our community

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Plymouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
751 reviews
505 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 349 helpful votes
“It seemed to be shut”
Reviewed May 21, 2014

We travelled across town to here and really wished we had not bothered, the exhibition was in a single small room, uninspiring. We tried to see if there was a show on during our visit, but it seemed not. Disappointing.

Visited May 2014
Thank RonA_Plymouth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orange, Australia
Level Contributor
266 reviews
199 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
“Traditional Puppet Show”
Reviewed January 27, 2014

Each puppet is manipulated by three puppeteers in the show, which enables the puppet to move like a human. If you are visiting Osaka, check out their schedule on their website. If you are lucky, bunraku is on the theater during your stay there. Don't forget that professional bunraku can be seen in limited periods mainly in Osaka and Tokyo.

Visited September 2013
3 Thank misocutlet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Renton, Washington
Level Contributor
277 reviews
141 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 188 helpful votes
“Unique, one of a kind experience - even for someone who never goes to a theater”
Reviewed December 11, 2013

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.

Visited November 2013
15 Thank lsli88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
16 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Some Japanese culture here”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

The Bunraku Theater is a nice touch to Japanese culture. If you don't understand Japanese language better take an English libretto and read it thoroughly before the performance begins. Dolls are expensive looking and the show is great itself. There will be a short break and you can it some food you bring with you or buy it from a theater buffet.

Visited December 2012
Thank sier1972
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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