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The Japanese version of a holiday is called Matsuri, and they refer to their festivals by that name (George 34). Even while certain events may be secular, most festivals are organized by the local temple. There are lots of food vendors and carnivals to keep people entertained during festivals. Some festivals have undergone such drastic transformation in the current era that they no longer even resemble the previous ones. The names and the dates have remained the same, notwithstanding the modifications. Even though some originated in China, some have been modified to fit Japanese culture (George 67).
We'll examine the Aomori Nebuta Festival, which takes place every year from August 2 to 7. Brightly colored lantern primarily characterizes its floats known as the Nebuta which people pull through the avenues of Central Aomori. The Chinese have a somewhat similar festival known as the Lanterns Festival (George 104). It takes place on the last day of the Spring Festival. However, unlike the Nebuta festival which has a fixed date of celebrations every year, the Chinese lantern festival has varying periods depending on the Chinese lunar calendar. For example, in this year, the Lantern festival took place on February 11, in 2018, it will take place on 2nd March and in 2019, it will be on 19th February. Colorful lanterns across the streets characterize both festivals.
It is believed that the Nebuta festival has its origins from the taiko and flutes used to get the attention of enemies in a war in Mutsu Province (George 145). The battle ended in beheading and burying alive of all descendants of the rebels. In a surprising turn of event, the government banned carrying of the Nebuta during the Meidi and Edo period alleging dangers of fire to the surroundings. The Chinese lantern festival had its origin around two thousand years ago. Emperor Hanmindi made the lantern festival a Buddhist custom, and it gradually became a celebration of the people.
The striking similarity between the Nebuta and the Lantern Festival is the lighting and carrying of colorful lanterns during celebrations (George 134). The Japanese make warrior like lanterns while the Chinese make lights of Chinese images like fruits and flowers. The festivals feature lot of food and they attract so many tourists than other festivals. Both cultures use colorful lanterns as a way of illuminating the future. They believe in the importance of their past and see connections to their destiny.
Bunraku is the professional puppet theater in Japan. It was named after Uemura Bunrakuken who promoted the art in the 19th century (Le 24). It is one of the four forms of a classical theater of Japan. Years ago, it was trendy, but its popularity is in steep decline due to changing the culture. Nowadays, audiences during its performances are very low though there is an increase in recent times (Le 128).
One unique feature of Bunraku puppetry is that only men perform it (Le 56). The puppets used are one half or two thirds the height of ordinary men. Interestingly, around forty puppets play in a single performance. Men play the puppets by pulling strings accompanied by expressive voices. Both the Japanese and Chinese believe that puppets can portray the human character (Le 46). The puppets are the most crucial element of Bunraku (Le 123). Every puppet displays various movements, typical to all human beings, and others called fura movements that are specific to the characters in the play. In Chinese theatre, the Shadow Play style use puppets. It involves two forms, the Cantonese and the Pekingese. The positioning of the rods differentiated them. In Japan, the puppets played the whole song while in China, the puppeteers could sometimes act as the puppets during a performance.
The other element of bunraku is shamisen music. It is the accompaniment of puppetry. The narrator must ensure perfect synchronization. The music brings the rhythm to the puppets to express drama (Le 35). The Chinese believed the puppets would become live people if left intact. Like the Japanese who believed in the supremacy of the puppets, the Chinese also believed the puppets.
"Images of bunraku puppetry." Google Images, www.google.com/search?q=images of bunraku puppetry&rlz=1C1GGRV_enKE770KE770&tbm=isch&source=iu&pf=m&ictx=1&fir=BKOZLAXu6QxwbM%253A%252C2ODxjdD3TnO26M%252C_&usg=__xJWh9i5ijM6HFmiTXWJZqJKkKdI%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi8ha6km7HXAhVGWSYKHcl4Dn0Q9QEILDAC#imgrc=BKOZLAXu6QxwbM:
George, Jodie. "Examining the Cultural Value of Festivals: Considerations of Creative Destruction and Creative Enhancement within the Rural Environment." International Journal of Event and Festival Management, vol. 6, no. 2, 2015, pp. 122-134.
Le, Lu. " Characteristics of Japanese Puppet Theatre." VNU Journal of Foreign Studies [Online], 32.2 (2016): n. pag. Web. 9 Nov. 2017.
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