Taikichi Irie Bunraku Puppet Theater Performers: Master Tamao Yoshida (1919-2006)
Medium Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
Photo Date 1930s Print Date 1930s
Dimensions 8.5 x 7 in. (216 x 178 mm)
Photo Country Japan
Photographer Country Japan
Contact Charles Schwartz
About This Image
Japanese inscription on print verso.
Images such as this one of Japan’s 300-year-old tradition of Bunraku Puppet Theater are very rare. Master puppeteer Tamao Yoshida (a Living National Treasure) who won the prestigious Kyoto Prize in 2003, is pictured on the left. Says the Inamori Foundation, issuer of the Prize: “Mr. Tamao has contributed to Bunraku’s current status as the world’s most highly developed and refined form of puppet theater.” And also: "Going beyond the mere transmission of puppetry techniques, he has added original and creative insight in puppet movement, with a virtuosity cultivated over the course of many years through a deep knowledge of the scripts and essence of the roles."
Irie captures him here as a young man, in the early days of plying his craft.
All the other known prints from this series are believed destroyed; Irie's photo retail shop in Osaka was decimated by U.S. bombing raids in 1945.
Irie was a prolific and well-respected photographer. He died in 1992, three months before a photography museum dedicated to his life's work opened in Nara City, Japan (his birthplace). Irie's work is in the permanent collections of the Yokohama Museum of Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.
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