This introductory chapter begins with an overview of the Japanese puppet plays presented in this volume. The plays were created during the period when Kabuki became increasingly a serious competitor to the popularity of Japan's puppet theatre, known today as Bunraku. They span the sixty-odd years of 1769 to 1832, and all are works that have been sufficiently appreciated by audiences that since their first performances they have continued to appear regularly on the puppet and, in their adapted forms, the Kabuki stages. The group of plays are all classified in the genre known as jidaimono, works set in the past and based on historical (or semihistorical) characters or incidents, a feature that reflects the predominance of that genre in the period covered. The remainder of the chapter describes the form of the puppet stage and the text sources for the translations.
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