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Rakugo in English will be the next step on my way

August 27, 2010 5 comments

I’ve finally posted this article.

I’ve been a member of one English learners’ group for over one year. We have an annual assembly in summer and somehow show how we grew for the past year by doing something new. Last summer, I arranged Martin Luther King’s legendary speech and demostrated it. This summer, I tried rakugo, which is a Japanese traditional storytelling.

I joined a workshop held in July and I learned what rakugo in English there. Katsura Sunshine was our teacher at the workshop. He is only one certified foregin rakugo storyteller in Japan, who came from Canada over ten years ago. He is also an apprentice of Katsura Sanshi, who is one of the most famous rakugo storytellers. All apprentices of Katsura Sanshi must be under strict rules. No girlfriends, no alcohol, no going out except requests related to rakugo with permissions of the master. Now that the relationship between apprentices and masters of rakugo are like the one between ‘Jedi Padawan’ and ‘Jedi Knight’ of STAR WARS.

Although I’ve watched rakugo in Japanese on TV before, I totally didn’t know what exactly it was and its rules were. Katsura Sunshine, now that he is a master to me, taught us a lot of things about rakugo.

rakugo storytellers have to play a few roles alone. By changing the angles to face, you can tell the storytellers act a few characters. At first, you have to know kami and shimo, which are two sides of directions. On your right side, it is called kami, and on your left side, it is called shimo. For example, you act a superior or a mentor and try to talk in kami direction, and you act a subordinate and try to talk in shimo direction.

makura is also an interesting word. Literally, makura is ‘pillow’ in English, however, makura in the rakugo world, it’s rather adequate…’icebreaker, icebreaking.’ ochi is also one of Japanese words which you often find on TV. It means ‘punch line.’ ‘The punch line of the story is not so good’ means ochi ga yowai in Japanese.

My master Sunshine showed us the shorter version topic of which the title is ‘THE ZOO.’ There are at least five charcters in the topic. I started memorizing all the lines of the topic and copying my master’s play as much as possible. Thank God. I made it at the annual meeting without forgetting lines or stammering.

Thanks to Sunshine, I got so interested in rakugo in English. Next time, I think I should try ‘Turtles and Flamengos.’ It’s more difficult and longer one.

Unfortunately, I forgot to record my rakugo play, so I can’t upload the film on my YouTube channel. Someday, I’ll try it.

Categories: Japanese Culture
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