Karakuri puppet

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A karakuri automaton, circa 1800. British Museum.
Tea-serving karakuri, with mechanism, 19th century. National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.
Dashi karakuri of the Tsutsui-chō/Dekimachi tennōsai in Nagoya.

Karakuri puppets (からくり人形, karakuri ningyō) are traditional Japanese mechanized puppets or automata, originally made from the 17th century to 19th century. The dolls' gestures provided a form of entertainment. The word karakuri means "mechanisms" or "trick".[1] It is used to describe any device that evokes a sense of awe through concealment of its inner workings.[2]

Three main types of karakuri exist. Butai karakuri (舞台からくり, stage karakuri) were used in theatre. Zashiki karakuri (座敷からくり, tatami room karakuri) were small and used in homes. Dashi karakuri (山車からくり, festival car karakuri) were used in religious festivals, where the puppets were used to perform reenactments of traditional myths and legends.

They influenced the Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku theatre.

Karakuri is alternatively written in Japanese kanji as 絡繰り, 絡繰, 機巧, 機関, and archaically as 唐繰.

Zashiki karakuri[edit]

The most common example today of a zashiki karakuri mechanism is a tea-serving robot, which starts moving forward when a cup of tea is placed on the plate in its hands. It was used in a situation when a host wanted to treat a guest in a recreational way. It moves in a straight line for a set distance, moving its feet as if walking, and then bows its head. This signals that the tea is for drinking, and the doll stops when the cup is removed. When it is replaced, the robot raises its head, turns around and returns to where it came from. It is typically powered by a wound spring made of whalebone, and the actions are controlled by a set of cams and levers.


Copy of Japanese Article[edit]

The record about Japan's Karakuri is the oldest one in the 4th year of Emperor Qi Ming (658 years) of "Nihon Shoki", which is older than this and is also described in "Mikuni" . This is that the doll standing on the dolly uses the differential of the wheel and always points in the south direction no matter which direction the car goes. In the final volume of the Heian period "The History of the History of the Narratives" in the twenty-fourth volume, the narratives that the Imperial Prince Kayo Emperor Prince Takayo (Kaayo Prince) made Karakuri dolls is stated. In addition, in the twenty-fourth and twentieth in the fifth, "Hida Kogyo" (Takumi Hida) [2] surprises the artist Baeksei Baekje, so make a temple with doors on all sides, even if you stand in front of any door The door in front is closed and the narrative which made a mechanism to open the door of a different place is also described.

A picture of "Takeda Omi Machine Tsubakiba" from "Settsu Picture Chart". I add a rhyme of "Takeda Karakuri, which moves the heavens and the earth if Alan Buddha looks with legs too," and draws a scene of Dutch people seeing Takeda Karakuri. What is in the stage is a drum cock and a ship of "Ship Benkei".

The fact that Japan's cultivation has bloomed culturally is largely due to the Western technology that came into the age of warring States, especially by mechanical clocks. Karakuri dolls using the technology of gears and cams used for mechanical watches from the 17th century as a device for moving dolls began to be made. Originally it was a luxury toy such as a public home, a daimyo, a luxury merchant, but as it became popular as a spectacle such as festival and fairy tale when it touched the public's eyes, it became popular in various parts of Japan, specialized craftsmen also appeared and it was very elaborate Things have been made. In the 6th year of Yuan (1620), Karakuwa Benkei's Karakuri dolls were put on the floats of Nagoya Toshogu Festival for the first time [3], festival floats carrying Karakuri dolls mainly in the Chukyo area popularized widely become. Incidentally, regarding the popularization of Karakuri dolls, the achievement of the first Takeda Omi who won the Kuraki play in the Dotonbori of Osaka in the second year of Hirofumi (1662) is great. Kokuriku's box office by Takeda Omi was called "Takeda Karakuri", and since then, for over a hundred years, he continued to engage in graffiti for generations and became a big brand of Karakuri.

"Skill skill vocabulary" by Hosokawa Hosokawa, Collection of the British Museum. Image is a place which explained the mechanism of the neck watching clock.

In the early 18th century Kura anniversary, a vehicle equivalent to a three-wheeled bicycle was invented by Hiraishi Kushimaru Kamihira Hikaru, a samurai of the Hikone clan, a newly built land-based vehicle. In Kansei ninth year (1796), Hosokawa Hanzo's book "Machine skill vocabulary" (Karakurigi) has been published [4]. In the 19th century, Tsukuba's "Karakuri Iga" Iizuka Iga 7 is said to have made Karakuri dolls by walking on human powered aircraft and roads and going to buy sake. At the end of the Tokugawa period, Okinomi Okini, known as Kaga 's Hiraga Genichi, made models of air guns and steamships, photographs. Ishikawa Prefecture has confirmed the Sannobo doll called Kanosuke Yoshimoto which was originally thought to have diverted designs that make it a tea carrying doll [5].

Currently, Minezaki 15 is repairing and restoring Tanaka Hisashige's "Bow Chidoko" and Ohno Takeyoshi's "Electric Kitsu" and "Fuelless Lamps" [6], Nami Tamaya Shohei is "Bow Chidoko" and the Kyoto Gion Festival Restoration of the mountain "Hayama" [7], Susumu Higashino restores the "character dolls" [8], Goto Daimei restores the Ogaki festival "Aioi mountain" and Otsu festival "Ryumon Falls mountain" There are several people active in various places.

Types of Karakuri [Edit]

Karakuri Kabuki

Karakuri made for viewing in the house, indoors. Many of them are dolls and the like mounted on the table tapping or dancing a drum, but some move like a tea carry doll, and carry a cup that poured sake instead of tea There was also. These are inherently expensive, mostly owned by Daimyo and the merchant.

Karakuri Toy

As folk crafts and local toys, there are many toys with various mechanisms that are distinctive from the ancient times all over Japan, and many things are still sold as souvenirs. In addition, many of the "tin toys" that supported Japan's export industry for a while also originated from tokens.

Karakuri umbrella

About a Japanese umbrella. The umbrella, which was a canopy originated from China, was also called a Tang umbrella due to opening and closing gimmicks in Japan, but it is commonly called Umbrella (tokusa).

Karakuri furniture

Karakuri chest of drawers etc.


Due to the festival culture which richly prospered in the Edo period, the shooting was done by the shooting made of boards, the shooting arcade and the blowing arrow which were done in the city, the fairy days and the hot spring field, Writing worked. Until the Taisho era, it existed in shopping districts of major cities and shooting district of hot spring town, but now it can see its remnant on demon doll like a mechanic called "devil cry".

Karakuri floats

It is a thing with Karakuri dolls on floats, cars, etc. that are to be pulled in the festival. Karakuri operators get in with the accompaniment of the accompaniment in the floats, and in the case of towing or entering the temple, the form of dancing and dedicating the dolls in accordance with the performance of the accompaniment is common. Since the Nagoya Toshogu Festival began in Yuwa 5 years (1619), it is intensively distributed in the Nakagyo area centered in Nagoya, forming a distinctive festival culture mainly between Aichi and Gifu prefectures . Tokugawa Muneharu who became a lord of Owari 7 in Kyoho 15th (1730) carried out the policy "Enjoy the world with the people" and luxuriously took place at the Toshogu Festival, which was self-controlled by the eight generations Shogun Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune Encouraged to resurrect and encourage other festivals and entertainment to be carried out gigantically, invited Karakuri doll makers from all over the country, including Tamaya Shohei of Kyoto, who had lost the place of activity, to Kagoshima Kagaku doll masters By migrating to the Owari district, the Karakuri culture developed and rooted in the Nakagyo area mainly in Nagoya. Most of the things in the center of Nagoya were lost during World War II war damage, but Takayama Festival in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture, Mino Festival in Mino City, Inuyama Festival in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture, Tsushima Fall Festival in Tsushima City, There are a lot of floats in the surrounding area, such as shida festival in Handa city, where the wreckage was escaped, and local residents of each company still see the figure manipulating the dolls by getting on the floats. In addition, the mountain of Kyoto gion festival is famous for the mantis karakiri which caught on the owner's car. Also at the Sanno Festival and the Kanda Festival in Edo, there was a thing that made karakuri on the float dolls [9].

Tokugawa Konoyama car line up (June 2015, Nagoya city, Tsutsui machi Town Tenno festival) 

Karakuri showcase (Tsutsui Town Tenno Tenno Festival · Nagoya City) 


Tokugawa endashizoroe8.JPG

Kicking the stage

Karakuri is mainly used in the stage of Kabuki. Tagaku return, lantern omission, omission of kuzaku etc. At the stage of Ningyo joruri also, it is now mainly focused on showing the art of puppeteering, but in the days when Chikamatsu Yomonemon was writing joruri, it was used frequently, which was one of the main points .

Karakuri House

It is seen in a ninja house etc.

Famous Karakuri [edit]

Tea carrying doll [edit]

Tea carrying doll Collection of British Museums.

A masterpiece of Karakuri Kaori. Place the tea cup containing tea on the tea ceremony held by the doll and bring the tea to the place where the customer is located, and stop when the customer takes the tea bowl. Set the distance to carry tea in advance. When the customer drinks tea and returns the emptied teacup to the tea ceremony, he returns the heel and carries the tea bowl to the original place. It controls its movement with a mainspring and a gear, a cam, and a barbeque. The well-known tea carry doll is now restored from the "skill drawing vocabulary" by Hosokawa Hosokawa. However, the tea carrying dolls remaining in various places are mechanically different from those described in the "skill diagram vocabulary", and those in the Edo period that were produced in accordance with "skill figure vocabulary" have not been confirmed.

In 1982 (1982) plastic tea carry dolls were released from the Japanese model. In November 2002, it was released at "Gakken's Adult Science Series Vol. 8", and in adult science Vol. 16 released on June 29, 2007 mini tea The carrying doll arrived in the appendix.

Yuzujiji [edit]

Bow seiko child (replica)

Two existing bodies are existing, each of which is produced by Hisashi Tanaka. Karakuri dolls take arrows from the Yaita, set them on a bow and hit it.

The movement of the doll is controlled by a mainspring and a cam, a lever, a thread, and it can automatically shoot four arrows. Explanation that "Tanaka Hisashige, one of which is specially crafted to remove taste" is widely spread, but this is wrong. In reality, all the arrows attached to it are repaired when repairing the doll [10], and it is true that one of the newly created arrows happens to not fly well. Incidentally, the small Tang Dynasty (doll in a Chinese style costume) attached to the base part where the doll sits, and the mechanism of the handle by Karako did not exist in the original before restoration. This part was newly attached according to the intention of the client of the repair [11]. It is said that Yumikoji is one of the best masterpieces of Edo Karakuri alongside character dolls.

Higashi Kuni found 1 body from the Tokugawa family in Heisei 1990 (1990), another one was discovered from Fukimi's Maekawa family in Heisei 1991 (1991), restored and restored by Minezaki 15 [12]. Currently, the birthplace of the Tokugawa family is stored in the Toyota Industrial Technology Museum, the former warehouse in Maekawa family is in the Kurume City Board of Education (Hisashi Tanaka's hometown). Assembly model kit that performs the same movement is released from Gakken. It was certified as Machine Heritage No. 61 in Heisei 20 (2013).

Character writing doll [edit]

There are 2 originals that have been discovered. One body was found in the United States. In 1991, from the American researcher to the Japanese researcher, the information that the American collector possessed was brought about, but the collector knew the knowledge about the character doll in the Edo period I did not have it [13]. So from Japanese researchers to American researchers, materials on the Karakuri dolls of the Edo period were serially served, and they gained over the years the understanding and trust of their collectors. In 2002 (2002), the consent to sell the doll was attached. As a result of wide popularity of buyers, Japanese purchased in 2004 (2004). Although no concrete data on the production of this doll has been found, the pattern of the cover that covers the pedestal is consistent with the screen of the bow of Shikiso at Tanaka Hisashige, which is presumed to be Hisashige. As the doll brought back to Japan, the mechanism that was not moved by the new owner was repaired, at the same time the face and hands of the doll were completely repainted, the costume was renewed, furthermore, the mechanism of the pedestal was not until then Incorporated equipment [14], was exhibited at Expo 2005 Aichi in the following year [15]. Currently owned by Higashi Higashino.

Another one is a character writing doll that can write two characters "pine" and "bamboo" at the same time with a brush hidden in the right hand and mouth, was discovered in an old house in Ansei city in 2009 (2009). Currently designated as Anjo city designated tangible folk cultural property, it is in the Anjo city historical museum. In addition, duplicate items were produced by Tamaya Shohei of the ninth generation, and they are stored in the museum [16] [17].

Karakuri Mikuji [edit]

Kikuri Mikuji of Nishiki Tenman-gu

It is in Nishiki Tenmangu shrine of the eastern end of Kyoto · Nishiki market. When a person gets closer, Kagura rangs and a mechanical gimmick lion dance begins. When a coin is thrown in and a kind of Mizuki (English, Japanese bilingual, for children, etc.) is chosen, a lion dances according to Kagura A mechanism that delivers a lottery is popular.

Footnote [edit]

^ "Japanese Language Encyclopedia" (2nd Edition [online version], 2007) From "Karakuri" section. In addition to the theory of the etymology it is introduced the theory that it is from "joyful laughter viewing", the theory of "entanglements" of "Daikan sea", the theory of "Kaharikuri" (turning point) of "Daimyo Ryo".

^ Hida has a system to dispatch woodworking to Kyoto as compensation to escape yu · tone, and Hida work became the official name of woodcraft / carpenter's masterpiece even after the system was abolished.

^ Tokai Festival Festival

^ "Machine skill vocabulary" is a book of three volumes of neck, top and bottom volumes which explained the structure and production method of three kinds of Japanese watches and nine kinds of karakuri dolls with a figure. Before introducing how to make Karakuri dolls, it shows that the underlying mechanical mechanism is a clock, and it is summarized as an educational document of machine technology. The tea carrying doll was actually restored from this book. Author Hosokawa Hanzo (around 1749 - 96) is a calendar / astronomer from the Tosa clan, who brought up this "skill figure vocabulary" while engaging in the archeology project of the shogunate. Hanzo is called common name and reputed name. We also produced devices such as Santen (a type of celestial gem) and a rite (a kind of pedometer).

^ "Karakuri" ("Cultural history of things and people") 48

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  1. ^ Jane Marie Law, Puppets of Nostalgia – The Life, Death and Rebirth of the Japanese Awaji Ningyo Tradition, 1997, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-02894-1
  2. ^ Shea, Michael (2015). "Karakuri: Subtle Trickery in Device Art and Robotics Demonstrations at Miraikan" Leonardo 48(1): 40-47.

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