Research Guru / Moderator
Aug 28, 2010, 3:02 PM
Kihachiro Kawamoto, a Japanese puppet animation producer best known for the NHK series Sangokushi (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms), died Monday of pneumonia, his family said Friday. He was 85.
Puppet animation producer Kihachiro Kawamoto dies
Born in 1925 in Tokyo, Kawamoto originally wanted to pursue a career in architecture while taking up doll-making as a hobby. In 1950, he teamed up with publisher Tadasu Iizawa to create a series of doll storybooks.
It was at this same time that Kawamoto discovered the works of Czech animator Jiri Trnka. In 1963, he traveled to Prague to study under the puppet motion picture animator and film director for a year.
Inspired by the Czech master, he began studying under stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga. By the 1970s, he was making elaborate films based on traditional Japanese folk tales. An entirely independent artist, he released many stop-motion puppet animation films, including Oni (The Demon), Dojoji (Dojoji Temple) and the series Heikemonogatari (Tale of the Heike), which also aired on NHK.
His last film Shishanosho (The Book of the Dead), based on Japanese folklorist Shinobu Origuchi's book, was released in 2005.
Besides the aesthetics and techniques of the strong tradition of Eastern European animation, he drew from the aesthetics of Noh, Bunraku doll theatre and Kabuki. Kawamoto often explored Buddhist themes of transcending the ego and attaining a state of tranquility.
At the 1988 Annie Awards, Kawamoto was given the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement. In 1995, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.
His short films were showcased in exhibitions around the globe. In 2007, Kawamoto was honored with his own museum, the Kihachiro Kawamoto Puppet Museum, in Iida City, Nagano Prefecture, which houses 200 of his handmade puppets.
Kawamoto sat as the president of the Japan Animation Association, a post previously held by master animator Osamu Tezuka.
[Via Kyodo News -- http://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/nn20100828a4.html]