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 🙂


Rakugo & Tsugaru Shamisen Collaboration!!!

Rakugo and Shamisen August jpg

For those who cannot make it to the English Rakugo performance at Titirangi Library this Thursday, here’s good news!

I will be collaborating with some of the AMAZING Tsugaru Shamisen performers from “Auckland Tsugaru Shamisen 音緒 -Neo-” on Thursday 9 August!

Tsugaru Shamisen is quite different from Edo Shamisen (Tokyo style Shamisen), and it is very upbeat and almost reminds me of a Japanese Rock& Roll!

I was told that there will be a Japanese drummer and a singer as well, so I am very much looking forward to it!

(Can you tell from the fact that I ended all last 4 sentences above with exclamation marks?)

As it is a collaboration project, I have decided to do arguably the most physically demanding, almost slapstick like Kamigata/ Osaka Rakugo piece to match their energy.

As I am trained in Edo Rakugo (Tokyo style Rakugo), it will be so much fun to try something entirely new.

See you there!

RSVP now! Rakugo X Origami Collaboration at Titirangi Library!


I am super excited to announce that I am performing Rakugo at Titirangi Library!

The library has a very special place in my heart as it was the very first library I signed up with when I first moved to New Zealand about 16 years ago.

This show will be extra special as it is the very first collaboration with a Japanese origami artist from Origami Workshop.NZ.

There is an Origami display near the front desk of the library that you can enjoy on the performance day.

All the pieces are inspired by the two Rakugo stories I will be performing: “Jugemu”(寿限無) and “A Smart Boy”(真田小僧)!

It’s a few weeks away, but I am already excited!

Make sure to RSVP here as the space is very limited.

Thank You, Onehunga Library!

Yesterday I had one of the most special Rakugo performances at Onehunga Library.

It is the local library that I visit 5-6 times a week (yes, I am a book worm!), and well I even worked for them for 6 1/2 years.

The Onehunga community has always had a very special place in my heart, and it was my great privilege that I could share the art form I love in the neighbourhood I literally love.

The event was attended by 30-ish people, who were all warm and welcoming.

They initially didn’t know what to expect as it was their first encounter with Rakugo, but once they were warmed up they had some genuine laughter that made me feel that we were truly one somehow.

Not limited to Rakugo, stories bring people together.

They unite us regardless of differences.

We connect through the common threads as humans that run through us all.

It was truly a beautiful experience, and I would like to thank every person who shared the special occasion with me.

I will be performing at other libraries as well, and it is my not-so-secret goal to perform at all 55 branches of the Auckland Libraries!

“Rakugo& Ramen” Done… Now Time for Rakugo at Onehunga Library!

Onehunga Library jpg

Thank you for coming to the first time ever “Rakugo & Ramen” at Ramen DO the other day!

It was an exciting opportunity for me to perform at my favourite Japanese restaurant in Auckland.  Admittedly though, it was also the most challenging environment to do Rakugo, as half the people came to watch my performance and the other half just wanted to be left alone to enjoy the beautiful ramen noodles (fair enough) 🙂

I will probably need to change my strategy next time… perhaps a bunch of “Kobanashi” (one-liners) and just one Rakugo story instead of two?  I have learned heaps, and I can feel myself grow as a performer each time I get on stage.

So… as in the title, another show is coming up at Onehunga Library next week.  I am very much looking forward to it as it is my old workplace and I live in the community.

Without exaggeration, I believe that a public library is the closest place to heaven on earth.  How many other public facilities are truly open to literally all people?

Another show is getting organised at Titirangi Library in July.  I will update here once the details are confirmed.

Hope to see you there!

Rakugo& Ramen!!! New Regular Shows Are Happening Soon!!!

Ramen and Rakugo Poster jpg

What can I say?

I am really excited!

New regular shows will be happening very soon!

I had been in search of a semi-permanent venue where I can perform Rakugo regularly, say, at least once a month to promote Rakugo to the New Zealand audience and also to improve my skills as a performer.

One of the hardest things in this attempt was that I had to start from explaining what Rakugo is before even asking for performance opportunities.

After a few futile attempts, I got hungry.

Very, very hungry.

I had this mysterious craving for Ramen noodles, my all time favourite food.

Then, a brilliant idea flashed into my mind.

How about doing Rakugo at a Ramen restaurant?

Both words happen to start with “Ra”.

“Ra” happens to be the name of an Egyptian god…

No, I wasn’t thinking that, but it actually felt quite promising.

So I decided to approach ら~めん道(Ramen DO) my favourite Ramen restaurant that is run by my favourite person.

After an hour of catching up and discussing the show, “Rakugo & Ramen” was born!

The first one will be held at 7:00PM, Mon 28 May 2018!

The date for the second one hasn’t been set yet, but it will be sometime in June.  The timing will be posted here or on my Twitter.

Come enjoy Rakugo and Ramen… at the same time!

What People Say About Hiroshi’s Rakugo?


“Hiroshi is a wonderful and talented storyteller full of charm and charisma! We very much enjoyed his Rakugo performance; The evening was filled with both funny and dramatic moments enthused with the spirit of Japanese culture! Highly recommended!”

E. Backler

“I recently had the opportunity to see Hiroshi perform Rakugo in English. He explained the artform and its conventions for those of us unfamiliar with it and performed two well known stories “Jugemu” and “A Summer Burglar”.

He was obviously well versed in the performance style and his translation made the stories both accessible and enjoyable.

Highly recommended.”

Julia Clement, Comedian

“I enjoyed so much the Rakugo show that Hiroshi performed, I had never experienced this before. I lived how we were drawn in to the story and into the relative stillness of the performer. I loved how he explained the moving of the head denoting status and characterisation – it was great to learn about it and then witness it, you felt “in the know”.

I liked the kiwi elements, it also made me feel included in this ancient practice, it helped me to relate.

I would love to hear other Rakugo in the future.”

Julie Watson


Tさん オークランド在住



M.A.さん オークランド在住

THE BEST Rakugo Podcast EVER in the English Language!


Would you believe me if I said that there is a professional Rakugo performer, who is also a Yale University graduate?

The traditional world of Rakugo and the apex of American academia seem so far apart and almost impossible to coexist.

Believe me or not, there is one.  Only one in the world, to be precise.

His name is Shinoharu Tatekawa (立川 志の春), the third apprentice of the Rakugo giant Shinosuke Tatekawa (立川志の輔).

I stumbled upon his Podcast recently, and it is really amazingly done.  It covers all aspects of Rakugo in English, and I can almost say it is THE BEST introduction to Rakugo for those who do not understand Japanese.

I can’t recommend it more highly.  Here’s the link!

Rakugo – Japanese traditional style comedy –

Great News! Look Closely at the Flyer!


First of all, look at the e-flyer above very closely.  I distributed it at the performance last night.

Did you notice anything?


Focus at the bottom right corner.

Yes, my funding application has been approved!!!  My project is now funded by Auckland Council’s Creative Communities Scheme.

It was approved on 10 April 2018, two days before the show.

What this means is that the funding now covers the cost for the venue and printing expenses for my flyers and marketing materials.

Yes, I am still performing Rakugo out of love (i.e. for free after other expenses), but it is now without a financial risk thanks to the scheme.

Thank you the Auckland Council for this opportunity!

First solo show done! Correction to my answer from Q&A Session

panda-2987596_1920(This picture is completely unrelated to the article… )

Thank you so very much for coming to my first solo show this evening!

You are a legend for coming to support the event right after one of the worst storms ever in Auckland! I love you my dear audience! (Too much?)

Tonight’s stories were “Jugemu”(寿限無)and “A Summer Burglar”(夏どろ). I personally like performing “A Summer Burglar” better, but “Jugemu” got a much better response.

In the Q& A session, someone asked me how old these stories were.  I gave an answer that I’d thought was right, but I was COMPLETELY wrong.

According to my quick research, the prototype of “Jugemu” is found in a book called “Karukuchigozenotoko” (軽口御前男) published in 1703!

“A Summer Burglar” first appears in “Kinokusuri” (気の薬) published in 1778.

So, we can say “Jugemu” is 315 years old, and “A Summer Burglar” is 240 years old.


“Rakugo Techo” by Seiichi Yano