Marionettes - Karakuri Ningyou

In Inuyama we saw the karakuri ningyou (からくり人形), giant puppets used in the floats operated here during festivals. It takes four people to operate a single puppet.

The puppet in this video was handled by two guides, one of whom sang. He's a god so fond of drinking that his white face turned red. In the show, operators pull one string to open his chest on a hinge; when another string is pulled, his white face drops down to reveal the red one, and is subsequently hidden in the chest. I took a video of this moment, but since I deleted it you have nothing but my words to describe it. Sorry!

The festivals in which these floats (this one has 365 lanterns!) are used are quite an event. Boys are taught to play the drums, flute, or to operate puppets depending on their age. They wear the jackets you see below.

If I remember correctly, a single one costs 2 million yen, usually paid by the maternal grandmother. I didn't get the chance to see a festival during our short stay, but it seems like it would be worth the short hour's ride from Nagoya if I could catch a glimpse of the karakuri ningyou atop a float.

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