I am embarrassed.
I had completely underestimated the newly published book, “Talking About Rakugo: The Japanese Art of Storytelling”.
When I was interviewed by the author, Kristine Ohkubo, for the book, I thought to myself in a fake British upper-class accent:
“Oh, it’s so lovely she’s writing a book for rakugo newbies.” (* I don’t think the aristocrats use the word “newbies”… or “rakugo”.)
Oh my gush, I was so, so, so wrong!
This book is a gem full of rakugo knowledge. It is a one-stop-shop for rakugo newbies and connoisseurs alike!
The book opens with how rakugo began its journey and evolved into its present format. It introduces most of the legendary masters including Kokontei Shinsho V, Sanyutei Ensho VI, and Tatekawa Danshi V.
The truly unique feature of this book is that it covers such subjects as female rakugo performers, rakugo in other languages, and even Sign Language Rakugo!
But its biggest feature is that it includes 16 of my master’s rakugo scripts in English!!!
Now… let me sidetrack for a minute.
The author, Kristine Ohkubo, somehow managed to keep it a surprise for me that my master was actually her co-author until very recently!!!
So did my master Eiraku…
Now I know these two people are excellent at keeping secrets… something I had not known…
Getting back to the rakugo scripts, the following stories are included in this book, with which you can enjoy and/ or perform yourself:
- Another Bottle of Sake (Kawarime)
- The Summer Burglar (Natsu Doro)
- Browsing in the Pleasure Quarter (Nikai Zomeki)
- Faceless Ghost (Nopperabo)
- The Father and Son Who Love Drinking (Oyako Zake)
- Foxes in Oji (Oji no Kitsune)
- Gonbei and the Racoon Dog (Gonbei Danuki)
- Gonsuke’s Lantern (Gonsuke Jochin)
- Okiku’s Dishes (Okiku no Sara)
- Peach Boy (Momotaro)
- Test Sake (Tameshi Zake)
- Time Noodles (Toki Soba)
- King Lear (Lear Oh)
- The Replacement of Enma (Enma no Irekawari)
- Scary Hamburgers (Hanbaga Kowai)
- Japan Milk Corporation (Nihon Miruku Kosha)
Did I mention that the book also includes extensive interviews with English Rakugo superstars like Katsura Sunshine, Tatekawa Shinoharu, and my master Kanariya Eiraku?
There is an interview of a lovely New Zealand-based performer called Kanariya Eishi, too.
Without any bias, I can confidently say that this is probably the best rakugo book that has ever been written in the English language.
I sincerely hope that this book will spread rakugo to the end of the world!
This is the beginning of a new chapter in English Rakugo.
You can purchase the book from here.