Bunraku: Japanese puppet theater. Developed during the Tokugawa period, the most important bunraku plays were written by Chikamitsu Monzaemon. The dolls, about three feet in size, are remarkably lifelike; they are operated by their puppet masters who sit on stage and move about with their puppets. The musical narrative (joruri) is chanted by a reciter (gidayu) to the accompaniment of instruments. Many of the same plays have been adapted to kabuki drama.
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.