Love and Mercy: Into the World of Bunraku

23 October 2019

Drama Centre Theatre


For the first time ever, there is a chance to watch Bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre) in Singapore! As part of Japan Creative Centre (JCC)’s 10th anniversary, the Singapore Bunraku Steering Committee presents this UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage on the local stage at Drama Centre Theatre. Appreciate Japan’s history and traditional culture through two Bunraku performances on 23 October 2019.

Details of the performance at Drama Centre Theatre


Wednesday, 23 October 2019


2:00pm & 7:00pm


Drama Centre Theatre
100 Victoria Street, National Library Building, Level 3
Singapore 188064

Ticketing: / (65) 6348 5555
(Tickets go on sale on 21 August 2019)

  1. Introduction to Bunraku: What are Tayu, Shamisen and Puppets? (40 mins)
  2. The Red-Hot Love – The Fire Watchtower (10 mins)
  3. Intermission (20 mins)
  4. The Miracle at Tsubosaka Temple – The House of Sawaichi and The Mountain (55 mins)


The Red-Hot Love – The Fire Watchtower: Oshichi is in love with a man named Kichisaburo, but due to circumstances of the families, the two are unable to marry. One day, Kichisaburo loses a sword that was to be offered to the Imperial Palace. If he could not find it by the next morning, he will be ordered to commit suicide. Upon learning that, Oshichi finds the sword and tries to deliver it to Kichisaburo. But the day is turning dark, the wooden door of the town has closed and she cannot reach Kichisaburo. She suddenly remembers the fire watchtower, that when a fire broke out and the bell rang, the wooden doors opened all at once. However, if it is not a fire, it is a crime to ring the bell, and those who sound it will be sentenced to burn in a fire. However, Oshichi makes up her mind and starts to climb…


The Miracle at Tsubosaka Temple – The House of Sawaichi and The Mountain: The blind Sawaichi, who lives in Tsubosaka, Yamato Province, is helped by his wife Osato’s side earnings and they struggle to make ends meet. Sawaichi has felt that Osato is not around at home in the evening and begins to suspect that she might not be working. But in fact, Osato heard about a cure for Sawaichi’s blindness and went to Temple Tsubosaka to pray that her husband’s blindness will be cured. After Sawaichi learns of this, he apologises to his faithful wife for suspecting her. Despairing over the thought that his wife will never be happy if he is around, he throws himself into the valley only to have Osato follow him. By the mercy of the Goddess Kannon (Goddess of Mercy), she saves both husband and wife and restores Sawaichi’s sight.

About the performers

© Takemoto Chitosedayu

Tayu (Narrator): Takemoto Chitosedayu

Born in Tokyo in 1959, Takemoto Chitosedayu became a disciple of The 4th Generation Takemoto Koshijidayu and was named Chitosedayu in 1978. He made a debut in 1979 and received the Bunraku Association Award in 1982. Subsequently, he was awarded Newcomer’s Award from the Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs in 2000, the 30th Matsuo Performing Award (Excellence Award) in 2009 and the National Theatre Bunraku Grand Award in 2016 and 2017, amongst many other awards.

A Tayu (Narrator) singlehandedly describes not only the dialogues of several characters, but also their minds and scenes. Tayu depicts deep emotions such as immense sorrow and disparate feelings by using a wide spectrum of voice tones and facial expressions during the performance.

© Tsurusawa Enza

Shamisen Player: Tsurusawa Enza

Born in Tokyo in 1959, he became a trainee of the National Theatre Bunraku in 1977. He became a disciple of the 5th Generation Tsurusawa Enza, assumed the name Tsurusawa Enjiro and debuted at the Asahi Theatre in Osaka in 1979. He became the 6th Generation Tsurusawa Enza and performed “Hirakana Seisuiki” in 2006. He was awarded the National Theatre Bunraku Encouragement Prize in 1986, the Osaka Performing Cultural Festival Encouragement Prize in 1987, the Osaka Performing Arts Encouragement Award in 2000, and the Japan Art Academy Prize in 2013 amongst many other awards.

A Shamisen Player expresses the sceneries of the stories and the emotions of the characters with the shamisen (string musical instrument). “Futozao Shamisen” which has a broad-neck, large body and big plectrum, is used to enhance the resonating and heavy sounds.

© Kiritake Kanjuro

Puppeteer: Kiritake Kanjuro

Born in Osaka in 1953, he became a disciple under the 3rd Generation Yoshida Minosuke, assumed the name of Yoshida Minotaro, and debuted in 1968. He has won several awards, and appeared in numerous films and TV programmes including Film Director Kitano Takeshi’s “Dolls”. He took over his father, 2nd Generation Kiritake Kanjuro (Living National Treasure) and assumed 3rd Generation Kiritake Kanjuro in 2003. He was awarded the Culture Encouragement Ministry of Education, Culture Award and the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2008, the Japan Art Academy Award in 2010, the Osaka Cultural Award in 2012, and the Mainichi Art Award in 2016 amongst many others. He assumed a visiting professor at the Kyoto Bunkyo University in 2013. He has also authored many books including “If You Learn One Character a Day.”

A Puppeteer manipulates puppets on stage. A “three-person operation” is applied whereby three puppeteers manipulate one puppet, allowing for the puppets’ elegant and delicate expressions.

Where is Drama Centre Theatre?

Getting to Drama Centre Theatre
100 Victoria Street, National Library Building, Level 3, Singapore 188064
Tel: +65-6837-8400

By Public Bus:
St Joseph’s Church, bus stop no. 01013: 130, 133, 145, 197, 851, 960
Hotel Grand Pacific, bus stop no. 01012: 2, 7, 12, 32, 33, 51, 61, 63, 80, 175, 640
Bras Basah Complex, bus stop no. 01019: 2, 12, 33, 130, 133, 960
For latest information on bus routes and fares, please refer to SBS Transit.

By the MRT:
You may also take the MRT to the nearest MRT stations, Bugis (EW 12 / DT14) or City Hall (EW 13 / NS25).
Train fares, travel times and route maps are available on the SMRT website.

Driving to Drama Centre Theatre:

Public Parking available in National Library Building Basement. Electronic parking system, Carpark entrance and exit close at 11.30pm daily.

Japan Creative Centre

4 Nassim Road, Singapore 258372
+65 6737 0434 /
Nearest parking at Orchard Hotel & Delphi Orchard
Singapore Bunraku Steering Committee:
General Incorporated Associations JTPA
Japan Creative Centre, Embassy of Japan in Singapore
Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Singapore
Japanese University Graduates Association of Singapore
The Japanese Association, Singapore
The Japanese Cultural Society, Singapore
Programme Partner Associate Partner


Special Thanks To