Introducing THE English Rakugo Association!!!

I can’t believe that I haven’t written an article about this HUGE news until now, but…

THE English Rakugo Association is born!!!

It was officially registered with the Japanese government at the end of last year, but it kicked off its activities last month in March 2021.

The first event that they organised was a duo performance by Sanyutei Koseinen (三遊亭好青年), the one and only Swedish rakugo performer on earth, and Kanariya Eiraku (鹿鳴家英楽), my dear master and the founder of the association.

They run many performances, but their next big gig will be held at Edo-Tokyo Museum on 3 May to commemorate the launch of the association. This is a very special event that you don’t want to miss!!!

The tickets can be purchased here.

They usually stream their live performances, but unfortunately this particular one will not be available online i.e. I’m gutted that I will miss out on this special occasion!

I am really excited that my master’s long-term dream has come true, and it is my sincere hope that rakugo will keep spreading outside of Japan.

I will do my small part here in New Zealand 😃

Free Rakugo Workshops! RSVP by Mon 5 April 2021!

Hi all,

Hope everything is well with you and your loved ones!

Our Aoteya Rakugo Club is back in full swing 😃

I’m letting you know that I am considering running two free rakugo workshops for those who are thinking of joining the club.

If you have been wondering if rakugo is for you, this is a great opportunity to learn the basic of this Japanese traditional art of comic storytelling.

Having said that, this workshop will only go ahead IF we have at least 5 people interested.

Because I will use our usual rakugo club time and venue, I need to make sure that there is enough interest to justify this event as our regular members will miss out on our usual activities for 2 sessions.

I hope I was clear enough with bold fonts and underlines! 😁

If you are interested in joining us, please RSVP by Mon 5 April 2021, which is next Monday so that I have enough time to prepare for the sessions.

I haven’t run open workshops since 2019 and have no idea when I will run them next, so please take this opportunity if you are interested!

Venue: Onehunga Community Centre

Time: 2:00-4:00PM, 10 April AND 17 April 2021

More details to be provided to people who have RSVP-ed 😃

Rakugo History in the Making

Correct me if I’m wrong, but…

our Aoteya Rakugo Club is probably the oldest English rakugo club outside of Japan.

I am aware that there have been a few groups of self-taught performers overseas, but our club has a strong connection to Japan though me. So it’s perhaps more like the oldest authentic-ish club of its kind (it will never be authentic because I am a bit too unconventional… sorry!).

For your information, the club was established on Sun 6 Oct 2019.

Please do let me know if your club is older than ours as we are really curious!

Last Saturday (20 March 2021), after 1 1/2 years since its conception, we finally had our first performance, which had originally been planned in March 2020.

Again, I, Eishi, claim it to be the first English rakugo performance produced by an overseas-based English rakugo club (until corrected)!

It was a small performance but a meaningful first step for us especially after going through the four strict lockdowns here in Auckland.

I am just so thankful that the members did not abandon rakugo after so many interruptions.

Thank you all those who have helped us reach this milestone!

We are looking forward to having more public performances together!

Four Defenders of Japanese Festivals

At Japanese festivals, four banners with the pictures of the four divine beings are sometimes displayed.

You might have also seen them at a ceremony at the imperial palace.

They are the defenders of Shin’iki (神域 しんいき) or the sanctuary of the shrine.

These four defenders are: Blue Dragon (青龍 せいりゅう Seiryu; the defender of the east), White Tiger (白虎 びゃっこ Byakko; the defender of the west), Vermilion Bird (朱雀 すざく Suzaku; the defender of the south), and Black Tortoise (玄武 げんぶ Genbu; the defender of the north; usually entwined together with a snake).

Together these four flags are called “Four Godly Flags/ Banners” (四神旗 しじんき Shijinki).

But in the Edo period (1603-1868), they were also called “Four Godly Swords” (四神剣 しじんけん Shijinken) in the Tokyo area as they put swords at the tips of the flags.

There is a hilarious rakugo story that involves a set of “Four Godly Swords”, which is based on a true story that happened at a restaurant called Momokawa (百川 ももかわ).

Unfortunately, it is one of those stories that would get lost in translation, but I will attempt explaining it another time!

See you next time!

Japanese Street Wisdom Podcast Episode 4 [Un Kon Don 運根鈍]

Hello everybody! Hope you are safe and well!

Welcome to the 4th episode of the Japanese Street Wisdom Podcast.

In this episode, I will introduce a Japanese saying “Un Kon Don” (運根鈍), the Japanese secret of success!

I had never really thought hard about this saying before, but I found it interesting that it is actually heavily influenced by Japanese fatalism and our effort to defy it!

Please do let me know what you thought about this episode and/ or your suggestions (for improvement, future content, etc.)!

As in the thumbnail above, this podcast is now available both on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!!!

You can also listen to it on my YouTube Channel if you prefer.

Thank you always for your continued support!

“Mummy” Medicine of Edo!

If you are a speaker of British English, you might be slightly confused if I’m talking about an adult female human with a child/ children or a preserved human body that could’ve been a mummy… or a daddy.

If you are a speaker of American English, you are right I meant a mummy by “mummy”.

The Egyptian kind of mummy, who could’ve been an Egyptian mummy before her passing (OK, I’ll stop annoying you!).

I recently learned a shocking fact about a Japanese medicine during the Edo period (1603-1868), and I couldn’t resist sharing this particular one!

Kaibara Ekiken* (貝原益軒 1630-1714) was a very well-known Neo-Confucianist philosopher (じゅがくしゃ 儒学者) and botanist who studied the medicinal herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Ekiken is especially known for his books called Yojokun (ようじょうくん 養生訓), which was a collection of his health advice, and Yamato Honzo (やまとほんぞう 大和本草) that introduced medicinal plants from China and Japan.

Yamato Honzo (やまとほんぞう 大和本草)

Kaibara Ekiken* (貝原益軒 1630-1714)

In Yamato Honzo, mummies… or mummified human bodies probably from Egypt… are introduced as a medicine!!!

Mind you, Ekiken himself opposed to the use of mummies as a medicine for ethical reasons, but researches suggest that they were widely used as all-purpose cure though they cost a fortune.

We don’t know exactly where they were imported from (and how they were sourced), but it was likely to have been via China or Netherlands as Japan only traded with these two countries then. It could’ve also been from Korea (via Tsushima), Ainu (via Matsumae/ Hokkaido), or Ryukyu/ Okinawa. **

According to Yamato Honzo, mummies were good for toothache, headache, chest pain, high fever, antidote for poisonous insects, and others.

* Some people also call him “Ekken”.

** If you know the answer to this question, please comment below!!!


貝原益軒著「大和本草」記載のミイラの薬効について 江頭啓介・原敬二郎

Photo Credit

Yamato Honzo: Momotarou2012, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons