The National Bunraku Theatre (国立文楽劇場, Kokuritsu Bunraku Gekijō) is a complex consisting of two halls and an exhibition room, located in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan. The complex was opened in 1984 as the fourth national theatre of the country, to become the headquarters of bunraku. The Japan Arts Council, an Independent Administrative Institution of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, operates the National Theatre.
Absolutely a must do in Osaka. We saw the 11.00 show and it was a fantastic experience. The puppetry and music are outstanding. Definitely get the English headphones for narration, they also include general details and history of bunraku.
Japanese culture is brought to life in theatres like these. Puppets play out stories that were written by the best in Japan. The plays are long and serious and wonderful. The foyer has many little shops from where you can purchase Bento boxs to eat in the intervals of long plays. An essential experience for those wanting to dive into Japanese culture.
It was a lot of fun but can be frustrating to get tickets. You have to be there to buy them and they seem to sell out quickly even on slow days. I'd also strongly recommend getting a translator if you don't speak Japanese.
What a theatre! Staff is friendly and the shows are amazing. As a tourist I've been to one of the final Bunraku acts, which was quite the experience. Definitely recommended for tourists in Osaka!
You can get a one session ticket on the day for about 1000¥. This is a good opportunity if you are curious about the genre. I found the audioguide didn't provide translations of the dialogue, only the narration. It was therefore less engaging as a lot of the Japanese content was unavailable. I wouldn't recommend this if you don't understand Japanese.
I've seen about a dozen shows here (some bunraku, some gagaku and one kabuki performance) and all of them were topnotch.