November 10th, 2005


Fox Eyes

It's a little too early in the morning to be awake, but I thought it was about time that I tried to write an entry for this journal. I've hardly written anything for a long while and I think and write so slowly at times that it can take hours to complete even a couple of paragraphs. I have a fair amount that I could write about, since I've been in both Tokyo and Australia for a while, but rather than write backwards about what has happened, for the time being let me pass imperfectly into the present.

I've been in Osaka for three days now. I can't say that I've done much beyond eating, drinking and wandering. The word kuidaore ("eating yourself bankrupt") is used to describe one supposed characteristic of the city's inhabitants. Osaka has also often been described as the Manchester of Japan and there are certainly some strong parallels given the place's historical background as a place of commerce that existed outside of either the court (Kyoto) or government (Tokyo). Osakans are also supposed to be a rather flashy sort when it comes to dressing and it's tempting to think that the city would grant Bet Lynch the freedom of the city forthwith if they had any idea who she was, although some doubts have recently been voiced concerning the actual popularity of animal print clothing in these parts.

(At which point I start looking for more references on Osaka style, but end up reading a couple of chapters from Miyazaki Manabu's biography Toppamono. I read it on his old site here and although I can't find a link on the current site, it seems you can access the later chapters by adjusting the last number in the URL. It's easy enough to find guidebook style opinion on Osaka via the net anyway...)

Puppets. That's what I started out wanting to write about. I'm fortunate enough to be in Osaka for one of the series of performances held at the National Bunraku Theatre over the year. Moreover, it's a performance of Honcho Nijushiko (本朝廿四孝), which is generally translated as 24 Models of Filial Piety or 24 Dutiful Sons of Japan as is wrote here in the programme. It's a rare treat to see a whole play rather than a few choice excerpts although I'm not sure that the original work has survived intact (so I'm spared all 24 examples, I think..). Nevertheless, the first part start this morning at 10:45am and finishes at 3:30pm. I could then go back in at 4:30 for the second half (finishing at about nine or so), but I decided to defer that pleasure until tomorrow afternoon. Time presses on and there's some work to be done beforehand writing up more cafe-related notes, but you can watch an extract from the performance at the bottom of the page here and it will be Yoshida Minosuke again tomorrow as the main operator. I'm not sure this sleepy post really expresses my substantial excitement at seeing bunraku again, my favourite of all live theatrical performance. I shall just have to express my intangible joy through a particularly exuberant moustache waxing and write upon my return.