See with your eyes, not with your hands.
Kihachiro Kawamoto Breaking Of Branches Is Forbidden (Hanaori) (1968) is a cautionary tale of a monk’s assistant charged to guard his beautiful blossom tree. A tree so beautiful that the monk decided to post a sign that forbid breaking of the branches. He told his acolyte that he must sit at this tree, and be sure that no harm came to the tree while he is away.
The acolyte was diligent in his duty in the beginning. Even singing a song as he rests under the tree. That was until a Samurai approached with his acolyte. They took notice of the tree and wanted to picnic underneath it. They knocked but could not get in. When the Samurai decided to break and have a drink of sake, the monk’s acolyte interest in these men peaked! He stole some sake, and just when he was about to go in for more, he was caught and forced to allow the two men in to sit and eat under the tree. This proves to be most disastrous; as the monk’s young acolyte was allowed to drink even more of the sake, which made him dance, sing, and fall right to sleep, leaving the tree unguarded. With an unguarded tree, the Samurai and his acolyte were able to steal away one of the Old Monk’s branches.
As in A Poets Life, Kihachiro Kawamoto offers viewers lessons in human response. The puppets appear before a backdrop of painted scenery. The images succeed in enveloping the unspoken storybook of the monk’s garden, and the acolyte’s misadventures; the flow between Kawamoto’s art and life with engaging sound effects and puppets mimicking human emotions.
With mystery and passion, Kawamoto creates his puppet worlds that are familiar and yet so different from our very own. Reflective lessons in life from a master puppeteer.