Rakugo, the Japanese art of storytelling, evolved as a form of entertainment for ordinary people during the Edo period (1603-1867). Yet, it is not an old, dying art struggling to find relevance in modern society.
It remains an integral form of live entertainment and is becoming more international as the rakugo stage once dominated by Japanese raconteurs now features foreign storytellers. And Japanese performers, both amateur and professional, endeavor to entertain us in English. Rakugo is fluid, not fossilized.
All that is required is a folding fan, a hand towel, and your imagination. In “Talking About Rakugo,” learn what distinguishes rakugo from Japan’s other traditional performing arts, become acquainted with its greatest contributors, enjoy some of rakugo’s most popular classical stories, and meet the performers of today.
Rakugo is entertainment for the general public and “Talking About Rakugo” is your easy-to-understand general guide.
Kristine Ohkubo is a Los Angeles-based author whose work emphasizes topics related to Japan and Japanese culture. While growing up in Chicago, she developed a deep love and appreciation for Japanese culture, people, and history. Her extensive travels in Japan have enabled her to gain insight into this fascinating country, which she shares with you through her books.
Her first book, a travel guide to Japan, was published in 2016. In 2017, she released a historical study of the Pacific War written from the perspective of the Japanese people, both those who were living in Japan and in the United States, when the war broke out.
Two years later, she supplemented her earlier releases with the story of an infamous 20th-century geisha who was both a victim and an aggressor, struggling amidst a strict patriarchal culture and a rapidly changing social system.
In 2019, she followed up her 2017 release, “The Sun Will Rise Again,” with a book titled “Sakhalin.” The work examines the far-reaching impact the island changing hands had on its inhabitants and resources, and culminates with the tragic events that took place in August 1945.
Ohkubo’s most recent book is quite a departure from her previous releases. Still focusing on Japan’s history and culture, the work introduces readers to rakugo, Japan’s 400-year-old art of storytelling. Through a series of biographical information, anecdotes, interviews, and rakugo scripts, the author explains why this traditional art form has endured for many years.
As an author, Ohkubo believes that writing from other cultural perspectives encourages empathy and understanding, and at the same time it broadens our knowledge of the events that have unfolded over the years.
You can find her work on http://Amazon.com/author/kristineohkubo as well as other major online book retailers.
Co-author Kanariya Eiraku is a Tokyo-based English rakugo storyteller who began performing in 2007. A former member of Tatekawa-ryu, he has translated and performed over 60 classical and contemporary rakugo stories both in Japan and overseas. Since 2007, he has performed in front of enthusiastic audiences in the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Laos.
The founder of both the Canary English Rakugo Company and the English Rakugo Association, Kanariya teaches English rakugo in Tokyo to a wide range of students. He also offers English rakugo classes online. https://eigorakugo.wixsite.com/kanariyaeiraku