Friday, January 22, 2010

Kyoto Asian Studies Group February Meeting: Karakuri Ningyo Robots

Photo borrowed from

Here's an announcement about the Kyoto Asian Studies Group February meeting (via H-Japan):

This February, the Kyoto Asian Studies Group lecture will be by Murakami Kazuo who will present Edo Period Karakuri Culture and Japanese Robots. This talk will be followed by a demonstration of karakuri (automata) by Minasaki Sougo. This will be a very rare opportunity to view such objects up close.

Murakami Kazuo is a freelance journalist who specializes in the history of technology in Japan and he is the author of many works on karakuri. Minasaki Sougo, with whom he has worked closely for years, is a specialist in the mechanical devices of the Edo period, and a restorer. He is also one of the few remaining craftsmen who make automata, mainly dolls, today. The lecture will be in English and the demonstration
in Japanese.

This event will take place on:

Monday 1st February

18:30 to 20:30

Doshisha Imadegawa Campus

For more information, contact: Elizabeth Tinsley, Otani University (

Sponsored by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies.

Sounds like a very interesting presentation. While we see robots more and more in Japan, it is interesting to note that this isn't a new phenomena. While karakuri were meant to surprise people, Japan now strives to make robots as familiar and user friendly as possible. With Japan's declining birthrate more workers will be needed, especially to replace and/or take care of the increasing elderly population. And since Japan doesn't seem to be so keen on allowing women to work and allowing foreigners to immigrate and work, the best possible solution is... robots.

For more information about karakuri ningyo, check out this web page:

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