House of Flame – 川本 喜八郎 Kihachiro Kawamoto

Bunraku, is the Japanese art/craft of Puppet-making and Puppet theater.  These are not hand puppets, but large figures on a stage manipulated by puppet-operators dressed in black in full view.  The listener/watcher, when beginning to watch the story unfold, forgets that the puppet manipulators are there on stage.  Many of the stories are based on mythologies and unique Japanese traditional story-telling from the Kabuki and Noh forms of art/craft.

Kihachirou Kawamoto 川本 喜八郎 was born in 1925 in Japan, and after becoming fascinated with puppet and doll-making and the bunraku tradition, studied with Jiri Trnka, the master pupper theater and stop-image movie maker of Czechoslovakia (now divided between Slovakia and the Czech Republic).  Kihachirou Kawamoto is famous today, for designing puppets and puppet costumes for other Bunraku craftspeople and Bunraku movie makers.  He specializes in short films and is famous for his exquisite puppets and using them in most of his works.  The stories he tells in his films are told through the lens of passions and loss, grief and whimsy, commenting on today’s world in a Buddhist-like under-pinning of the emptiness of life. They are haunting, expressive, and unrelenting, yet at the same time, absurd – which is intentional.

The following video is of the story Kataku (House of Flame), made in 1979.

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