My master’s rakugo school, Canary Rakugo Company, has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary!
Considering the rakugo club that I established in Auckland lasted only for 3 years (mainly due to my poor leadership skills) … this is an amazing accomplishment!
Canary Rakugo Company actually opened its door in 1991, but the celebration was delayed by a year due to the pandemic. I had been planning to attend the anniversary party myself but gave up in the end as Japan still had many travel restrictions that prevented me from organising my trip on time 😢
Here are some photos from the party on my master’s website!
This school initially only taught rakugo in Japanese for the first 15 years.
The first teacher was now legendary rakugo performer and celebrity, Tatekawa Shiraku (立川志らく). He taught rakugo there for 4 years.
But what was truly revolutionary about this school was that my master, Kanariya Eiraku, decided to also start teaching rakugo in English to take this loveable art to the world in 2007.
Rakugo was first performed in English in 1983 by Katsura Shijaku II, and he established this art until his unfortunate passing in 1999. His will was carried on mainly by Kamigata Rakugo (Osaka/ Kansai Rakugo) performers.
But what distinguishes my master from others is that he has introduced non-farcical stories as well to the world.
As you may know, rakugo is not just a comedic expression. It began as a comedy tradition, but it also includes tales such as love stories, historical stories, human-interest stories, and even tragedies.
My master has introduced many, many stories in English for the first time ever, I dare say, in human history.
He has published 3 books on rakugo in English along with Kristine Ohkubo, and he also established the English Rakugo Association, which now I am a member of.
I am aware that there are still many skeptics and naysayers who believe performing rakugo in English doesn’t work or even sacrilegious.
In my personal opinion, only the audience members will decide!