March 14, 2007 - Comments Off on Karakuri (Mechanism)

Karakuri (Mechanism)

Wadokei (Japanese clock)While reading Naruto the other day, I noticed that the author, Masashi Kishimoto, had previously done a series titled Karakuri, which was translated as “Mechanism.” I had no idea what type of mechanism Karakuri were/are, but since I love anime, automatons, and answers, I had to know more. Here’s what I found:

Karakuri ningyo are mechanized puppets or automata from Japan from the 18th century to 19th century. The word “Karakuri” means a “mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise.” It implies hidden magic, or an element of mystery. In Japanese, ningyo is written as two separate characters, meaning person and shape. It may be translated as puppet, but also by doll or effigy. (Wikipedia)

Japan’s love of robots lies in the history of the Karakuri Ningyo. Until now there has been little interest from outside Japan regarding the Karakuri Ningyo craft, and its influence on technology and the arts. (

The Japanese Karakuri puppets utilise subtle, abstract movements to invoke feeing and emotion. There are three main categories of Karakuri. “Butai Karakuri” are puppets used in the theatre, “Zashiki Karakuri” are small and can be played with in rooms and “Dashi Karakuri” puppets perform on wooden floats used in religious festivals. Traditionally Karakuri appeared in religious festivals, performed re enactments of traditional myths and legends and entertained the public with their sophisticated, symbolic and graceful gestures. (

More information:

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Design Mechanism

Comments are closed.