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12/04/07: Karakuri: The Roots of Japanese Robot Technology

A Talk and Demonstration by Shobei Tamaya IX, Master & Craftsman, Karakuri Ningyo
Presented by the MIT-Japan Program and The Japan Society of Boston

Tuesday, 4 December, 5:30pm
MIT Building 6, Room 120

KARAKURI NINGYO are Japanese mechanized puppets or "proto-robots" from the 18th/19th century. The word 'Karakuri' means a "mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise" and implies hidden magic, and an element of mystery; "ningyo" means doll or puppet in human form. Traditionally, karakuri ningyo appeared in religious festivals to enact myths and legends and to entertain the public.

Free & Open to the Public.
This program is made possible in part by Toshiba International Foundation and by Toyota Corporation.

Shobei Tamaya IX is currently the leading Karakuri Ningyo Master in Japan. He creates and restores karakuri mechanisms in Nagoya and Inuyama, both in Aichi Prefecture, where 70% of the karakuri ningyo remain today. The concentration of karakuri ningyo in Aichi Prefecture resulted from the great patronage of the 7th Tokugawa Shogun, Ietsugu, who was an enthusiastic supporter of festivals and of the proto-robotic dolls.

Shobei Tamaya IX has restored many karakuri figures and has revived interest in them among many Japanese inventors of modern robots.

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