On Sunday, July 6, Japanese puppeteers from Kumamoto Prefecture performed a traditional puppet play by Lafcadio Hearn, in Lefkada. Hearn was a writer who was born on the Greek island over 160 years ago and later moved to Japan.
The traditional bunraku play performance took place at an amphitheater and it was attended by more than 400 people. The play, entitled “Yuki Ona,” tells the tale of a snow spirit woman who appears in Japanese folklore stories. It was performed to commemorate the 110th anniversary since Lafcadio Hearn’s death in Tokyo.
Lafcadio Hearn was born in 1850 on the island of Lefkada. In Japan, he was known by the name Yakumo Koizumi and he lived in the Kumamoto Prefecture. He wrote many books, plays and Japanese ghost stories.
The art of bunraku has been part of Japanese culture since the Edo Period (1603-1867). It is usually performed in open-air venues and it is distinguished by the special, exaggerated movements of the puppets.
Terushi Kuraoka, the 67-year-old chairman of the Seiwa bunraku puppet play preservation society, was also present at the even in Lefkada. “We were able to pull off the show in a magical atmosphere amid falling snow-like ticker tape,” he said.
People travelled from all over Greece in order to attend the puppet play. In fact, an elementary school teacher said that he traveled over 200 miles in order to see the performance with his family. He mentioned that the bunraku play was impressive, as well as Lafcadio Hearn’s life and contribution to the introduction of Japanese culture to other peoples.