Karakuri

kataguruma
“Puppet sitting on the shoulders of another puppet”
– “Karako-guruma”(puppet on a carriage), owned by Kitagumi Shimo- Handa, Handa City, Aichi Prefecture

This puppet resembling a Chinese boy was produced in 1829 by Nihei Sumida, a puppet maker who lived in Nagoya City. The mechanism encased in the chest of the smaller puppet deftly combines gears and a spring for precise movements. Of all puppets, aptly referred to as “wooden robots,” this product is the best of its kind.

As the title suggests, there is a smaller puppet and a larger one that function as a pair, with the former sitting on the shoulders of the latter. With a tool that works like a remote controller, the smaller puppet grabs a branch of the cherry tree with its left hand and hangs from the branch, its body removed from the larger puppet. This movement releases the stopper, causing the spring made of whale whiskers (actually whale teeth) to unwind. The gears then begin to turn at a constant pace, its speed being regulated by an escapement like that used in a clock, making the puppet swivel its head and beat the drum.

The Karakuri
Central Japan Network

Print it in Moleskine MSK format
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