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Bunraku is the traditional Japanese puppet theater, in which puppets are skillfully manipulated to act out a narrative (called jôruri) recited to the accompaniment of the shamisen.

There are usually three puppeteers for each puppet. One is responsible for the expression on the puppet's face and for its right arm and hand, and is called omozukai.The next operates the puppet's left arm and hand, and any props it is carrying and is called hidarizukai; and the third moves the puppet's legs and is called ashizukai.

The puppets consist of a head (kashira), shoulder-pieces (kata-ita), a trunk (), and legs and arms (té-ashi). Various mechanisms operate to give the puppet an extremely lifelike appearance on the stage.