Jōruri is the popular Japanese doll game. Here, valuable figures are used, which are about 150cm in size, but partly also the size of an adult. The figures are guided by several puppeteers, who mostly stand behind the dolls and are visible in the show itself, the dolls being operated by means of handles placed in the dolls. The play is accompanied by a ballad-like text, which is presented by a reciter for musical background. The Jōruri was created in the 16th century, but it was flourishing in the 18 th century (see Literaturepochen).
The term Jōruri, in Japanese 浄 瑠 meint, actually means a combination of reciting the Tayū – the reciter in such a piece – and playing the Shamisen (a kind of lute). Consequently, the puppet play is also referred to as Ningyō Jōruri, where Ningyō is the Japanese word for doll, and the combination of both concepts then means the actual puppet play with recitation, which is musically underpinned. Nevertheless, the term Jōruri also referred to the puppet play itself.
It is also crucial that the simultaneity of recitation and music merge both, whereby dialogues, music and the play of the figures form a unity. In addition, Nō, a traditional Japanese theater mostly played by men (danced) as well as musically accompanied, and Kabuki, the traditional Japanese theater of the bourgeoisie of the Edo period, are linked with historical, romantic and partly also bourgeois motifs ,
Nowadays, the term is rarely used, as the Jôruri was fundamentally reworked and renewed by the puppet player Uemura Bunrakuken and was subsequently popularized under the name Bunraku. In this form, the puppet play continues to the present time, with the representation in Japan having the status of an untouchable cultural heritage, which is also greatly promoted and supported by the Japanese government. This support and preservation can even go so far that the actors as well as the makers of such dolls are declared the cultural heritage of Japan. Finally, let’s look at a contemporary example of the representation form: