I am a skeptic.
I am not fully convinced if the Law of Attraction or Murphy’s Law would deliver what they promise to.
But at the same time, I am a hopeless romantic.
I know there are things that our eyes cannot see.
Fairies and dragons? They are totally real.
It all started in a conversation with my math teacher friend.
“Have you heard of a Rakugo performer called Tatekawa Koshira (立川こしら)? He is involved in promoting green living through his Rakugo”.
I was very excited to hear this because one of my goals as a Rakugo performer is to promote causes like peace, conservation, and equality through my Rakugo.
That was a few months ago.
I started listening to his Rakugo, and soon he became my Rakugo superhero.
For those who do not know him, he is an apprentice of the multi-talented celebrity Tatekawa Shiraku, a student of late Rakugo Legend Tatekawa Danshi VII.
Koshira is Danshi’s “grand apprentice”, a true thoroughbred.
Then, about a month ago, not-so-random-obviously-algorithm-generated-targeted-advertisement popped up on my Facebook.
“Tatekawa Koshira…IN NEW ZEALAND?????”
I couldn’t believe my eyes because we rarely get visits from Rakugo performers from Japan.
I recall Katsura Zakoba Shisho came here nearly 15 years ago, and that was it.
What is the chance of this specific performer visiting New Zealand? Only a few months after I became his big fan?
The Law of Attraction might be true.
I had a Pavlovian response of a drooling dog and snapped up the ticket as I do whenever someone dangles anything Rakugo-related in my face.
I arrived early.
In fact, I was actually the first person to get to the venue.
Two super friendly organisers welcomed me with smiles.
More people arrived, and one of them recognised my face from an interview I’d done a few months ago.
“So you do English Rakugo?”
With my shy-ish off-stage persona, I admitted: “Yes, I do.”
This converstion spread like a wild fire. Now EVERYONE in the audience knew that I was a Rakugo performer.
I had been planning to just enjoy and learn from this amazing gig and go home… that was my plan.
I was too embarrassed and reluctant to share about my Rakugo journey with this Shin’uchi, a Rakugo performer in the highest status…
His performance was immaculate.
His razor-sharp focus and ability to read the audience were pure genius. His obviously improvised “makura” (combination of banters and one-liners) was 20 or even 30 minutes long. The audience was completely engrossed by this talented raconteur.
The 2 1/2 hr long show flew by.
Koshira gave us a chance to take photos with him, and I blatantly asked him to act out a samurai warrior who is duped to drink pee, believing it was sake, from a story called “Kinshu Banya” (禁酒番屋).
Here’s the photo of him drinking pee…
Then, an unexpected thing happened. One of the organisers told Kashira Shisho that I did English Rakugo.
So, I DID end up talking about what I do here in New Zealand after all.
I felt like a love crazed teenager all over again.
I had a dry mouth and even stuttered when I talked.
He also asked me what stories I would be doing in my performance planned the following week.
“‘Praising a Child’ (子ほめ) and ‘Okiku’s Dishes’ (お菊の皿)”
“Are you coming to the evening show as well? If so, I can do those two stories for you.”
He offered me to do these stories very casually.
Almost NEVER EVER happens.
Of course, I was very, very tempted and really wanted to come to this once in a life time event, but I had to look after my wife who had just injured her neck.
I didn’t go back.
That evening I received a message from one of the organisers.
“Koshira Shisho actually did those stories for you!”
I missed this once in a life time opportunity.
But I was unimaginably moved by his “iki na hakarai”, his extraordinarily generous action for a nobody like myself.
This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is something a real Rakugo performer does.
Rakugo performers do something like this very casually as if it’s something trivial.
This is the beauty of Rakugo.
I wept that night.
3 thoughts on “My Once in a Lifetime Encounter with a Rakugo Master”
What an amazing story! Now I have to find the “Kinshu Banya” story — I am intrigued!
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Thank you so much for the comment, Kristine!!! Very few people bother leaving comments here, so it was extra special 🙂 The whole experience made me very happy and nervous at the same time! “Kinshu Banya” is a simple story, but it’s hilarious when it’s done well 🙂 I haven’t done it myself, but maybe I should try someday! Thank you again for your support 🙂
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