Japanese puppeteer, one of the greatest in the history of Bunraku (ningyō jōruri). He wrote many libretti under the pen name Yoshida Kanshi. He participated in the emergence of the Takemoto-za (see Takemoto Gidayū) where he worked under his father, an important manipulator. Bunzaburō made his debut in 1717 and his talent was recognized by connoisseurs. He was not only a consummate puppet manipulator but also an innovator in scenography and the technical aspects of the art. Around 1734, he created the three-man manipulation system. He established the Yoshida lineage, which lasts to the present as a name for principal puppeteers.

Among the great masters of the modern period was Yoshida Tamazō (1829-1905), who experienced the flourishing days of the Bunraku-za during the Meiji period. Yoshida Eiza (1872-1945) and Yoshida Bungorō (1869-1962) were two virtuoso players of female roles who brought Bunraku through the difficult period of World War II. In the contemporary period, Yoshida Tamao (1919-2006) was a pillar of the Kokuritsu Bunraku Gekijō (National Bunraku Theatre) and was honoured as a “Living National Treasure”. Yoshida Bunjaku (b.1928) and Yoshida Minosuke III (b.1933) received the same designation in 1994.

(See Japan.)