Introducing Rakugo Characters No.1 [Hachigoro 八五郎]

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In Rakugo, there are some stock characters that show up over and over in multiple stories.  One of such Rakugo-verse dwellers is Hachigoro (八五郎).  His nicknames are usually: “Hachi”, “Hats-an”* (八っつぁん), or “Garappachi”* (ガラッ八).

Hachi is a happy-go-lucky clown type.  He is usually quite likeable but an infamous scatterbrain.  He is a bigmouth and has a tendency to act on half-baked knowledge.

Wherever he goes, chaos ensues.

In one story, he ends up becoming a monk.  In another, he gets promoted to be a samurai warrior.  He is possibly the best known character in Rakugo along with Kumagoro (熊五郎) and Inkyo (隠居) (whom I will introduce in other articles!).

This man mainly appears in Edo Rakugo (Tokyo Rakugo) but barely gets a cameo appearance in Kamigata Rakugo (Osaka Rakugo).

* These spellings are for pronunciation purposes only.

My Near Enlightenment Experience at Titirangi Library

The circle has been completed.

The 20-something me, who casually walked into Titirangi Library, would have never imagined that he would someday perform Rakugo at this very library 16 years later.

It was a hot summer day in February.  My Day 2 in New Zealand.

I was walking up Titirangi Road, feeling the scorching UV-infused sun on my skin.  My mission was to sign up with the library at the top of the hill.

Admittedly, I hadn’t known much about New Zealand before moving here- except for the All Blacks, kiwis, sheep, and a few other random Kiwiana.  After all, my move to this country was purely accidental; my gonna-be-wife happened to be from here.

To impress my future in-laws, I decided to adapt myself quickly to the Kiwi ways.  I did.  Thanks to all the wonderful books and information provided by this cosy storehouse of “kōrero” i.e. stories.

Excuse my sentimental mumbo-jumbo here, but it was a very special occasion for me to perform at this particular library as I could somehow feel I could give back a tiny bit to the place that had given me so much.

I may have lost half the readers by now… but if you are still reading, you are my kindred spirits!  You deserve an intermission 🙂

These beautiful origami works are done by Origami Workshop NZ.  All of them are inspired by Rakugo and especially “Jugemu”, one of the stories I did on the day.

The performance was somehow very spiritual.

Perhaps more laughter would’ve done justice.  Rakugo is supposed to be a comedic expression.

But it unexpectedly brought this magical oneness, unity, or whatever you call it… that shared “flow” you have when you are having good time with your best mates.  The feeling of the audience and performer… me!… being one.

Sometimes I act more like a “comedian” and pursue laughter.  Other times, I am a pure storyteller and see where the Rakugo stories would lead me and the audience.

The Q&A session was very fascinating.

They were mainly questions about Rakugo stories and Japanese culture.  I always learn something new from their unique insights and perspectives.  I am especially curious about finding out how Rakugo is perceived by people who did not grow up in Japan.

One audience member Tweeted me a lovely comment after the event.  She liked the way coins were kept in the kimono sleeves back in the olden days 🙂

I forgot to mention.  My favourite question at the Q&A session was something I had not expected at all:

“How do you stay so happy?”

Thank you for asking the question.  I can stay happy because of people like you.

A new circle has begun 🙂

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