Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto doesn't seem to like puppets. Anyone can understand that if we were talking about "political puppets," mouthpieces to special interests, but the puppets that Hashimoto recently criticized are actual hand-puppets -- the traditional Japanese theater style, Bunraku.
Bunraku is said to be a combination of two types of ancient Japanese performance arts, traveling story tellers and traveling puppeteers who went from town to town to provide entertainment in medieval Japan. One of the earliest verifiable references to Bunraku was in Osaka when Takemoto Gidayu set up a Bunraku puppet theater in 1684 using Japan's most famous playwright of the period, Chikamatsu Monzaemon. From there, theaters started spreading, first in Osaka, and on to other regions.
Hashimoto has his problems with the plays themselves, calling the ending of a recent performance, "Unsatisfactory." He went on to say, "I understand that this should be preserved as an ancient art form, but that last scene was really lacking something." He also commented on how unsatisfying the staging was. He has said in the past that for people to truly appreciate traditional arts, they should actually enjoy it, and that he would rather never see a Bunraku performance again.
But Hashimoto's main beef seems to be with the Bunraku Kyokai, an association that promotes Bunraku. The Osaka governor has stated that he would like the association to allow the performers to give public interviews, something they are not presently allowed. The Osaka government also cut funding for the association by about 25% in the last year.
Are there any Bunraku fans out there to weigh in on this?