Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Secret of Karakuri

As a member of Japanese Foundation in Sydney, couple days ago I was invited to attend an event called ‘The Secret of Karakuri’, a demonstration on the art of Karakuri by two grand masters, Shobe Tamaya IX ( 9th generation) and Dr. Yoshikazu Suematsu.

Shobei Tamaya IX is the last remaining Karakuri master in Japan. He is the ninth generation Karakuri Ningyo craftsman from an unbroken lineage. He creates and restores Karakuri dolls in Nagoya and Inuyama, located in Aichi Prefecture, working closely with Cultural Preservation Committees around Japan. Dr Yoshikazu Suematsu is an Honorary Professor at Nagano University, the Founder of the Suematsu Robotics Laboratory, and Principal of the Toyota National College of Technology. He is considered to be the world’s leading expert in Karakuri, and was a pioneer in robotic visionary systems.

They brought an expensive luggage all the way from Japan, the handmade Chahakobi Ningyo (a tea-serving doll, valued at ¥1,600,00) and the Yumihiki Doji (an archer doll valued at ¥10,000,000).

Mr. Shobei Tamaya demonstrating the mechanism of tea serving doll

It was really an amazing show! All of us stunned by the demonstration of the tea serving doll and the archer doll which known as the masterpiece of Karakuri, an archer doll that shoots 4 arrows in a row with astounding precision! The tea serving doll moves because of the weight of the tea cup so it simply works like a clock-work with no power at all, no electricity and no fuel!

The Archer doll in action

These are some facts about Karakuri as you can find on the Karakuri info website:

The word 'Karakuri' means a mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise. It implies hidden magic, or an element of mystery. In Japanese is written as two separate characters, meaning person and shape. It loosely translates as puppet, but can also be seen in the context of doll or even effigy.

The Japanese have always had a fascination with robots. They introduced to the world Astroboy, Asimo, Aibo… and the Karakuri Ningyo, translated as the ‘mechanical doll’, technology that was at its peak during the Edo period. The Karakuri Ningyo is the original robot of Japan.

The beauty of the Karakuri tradition lies in its concealment of complex technologies hidden behind a simple doll-like puppet. Additionally, the doll’s facial expressions are remarkable as they are painted with such accuracy, the finishing touch from its creator. Neutral expressions are applied but combined with the manipulation of subtle head movements, light and shadow, this incredibly enables the doll to convey diverse emotions, depending on the angle viewed.

1 comment:

Yuliana-Fun said...

aaarrrghhh... baca postingannya jadi semakin bikin penasaran pengen ke jepang deeehhh... *gigit2 jari*