［History of Otome-Bunraku］
Otome-Bunraku is a style of performance handling Bunraku puppet by only one girl, and narrated by songs sang by Gidayu(singer) and music played by Shamisen(a three-stringed instrument).
The origin of Otome-Bunraku goes back to doll performances played by girls in early 1920s in Osaka. Bunraku, the original form of Otome-Bunraku which was performed by three men, was on the decline because of the burned-out National Theater. The performance by girls was organized by Jiboku Hayashi, who was a skilled amateur of puppets and performances. He invented the metallic parts called 'udegane' and made it possible for girls to hold Bunraku puppet bodies by fixing them on arms with udegane. Girls could move puppets' heads by connecting their own heads with wires, and hands by holding wooden grips under puppet's kimono sleeves. This style was named 'Musume-Bunraku'. Musume-Bunraku was performed as an attraction at radium hot spring resort.
Following Musume-Bunraku, Monzo Kiritake, Minosuke Oue and Eizo Yoshida of Bunraku National Theater invented 'dogane(metals fixing puppets on waist)', and formed the Bunraku puppet troup 'Osaka Otome-Bunraku' in 1930. Master Masako Kiritake (photo below) was the first leader of 'Osaka Otome-Bunraku'. Their performances were organized by puppet performers and Onna-Gidayu(women singers) or Shingiza(combination of Gidayu and Shamisen players of Bunraku National Theater). Therefore their performance quality was very high.
During the golden age of performances, 'Musume-Bunraku', 'Osaka Otome-Bunraku' and 'Onna-Bunraku' competed with each other. After the WWII, Master Chieko Kiritake of Osaka Otome-Bunraku moved the base to Chigasaki, and she was authorized as Intangible Cultural Property. But now only a few women have inherited this traditional performance. Most of the puppets were lost during the war, and there were few programs left. Not only saving existing programs but producing new ones are important to protect Otome-Bunraku from extinction.
［Otome-Bunraku and Masaya Kiritake］
I was authorized to use the name 'Masaya Kiritake' by Master Masako Kiritake on January 9, 2004. My performance style is the improved 'dogane', which I designed from the idea based on 'udegane' and 'dogane' with help of some experts. I produce new performances by referring to traditional Japanese dancing, and keep acting them so that Otome-Bunraku can still be a developing performing art.