Curtain Call: Life is Full of Curve Balls

As we all have witnessed in the last 2 1/2 years or so, life is full of curve balls.

Before this pandemic, I’d encountered my share of unpredictable people- myself included- but the pandemic has proven to be moodier than the moodiest of those unreasonable people.

Most of my colleagues in the creative industries have suffered from this unfathomable creature akin to a shivering chihuahua in a designer handbag i.e. it just doesn’t make sense.

I am not an exception, and my rakugo work has also suffered so much that it completely exhausted last month…

I became officially a jobless performer.

Everything has an end.

As such, as of 19 June 2022, I will retire from a full-time English Rakugo performer.

Thank you so much for all your support for the last 5 1/2 years!

I will go back to my old lover aka librarianship and work as a part-time librarian.

I mean… part-time.

By the way, I said I will retire from being a full-time performer.

Sorry the photo and what I’ve written so far was a clickbait, really.

Of course, I will still remain a part-timer English Rakugo performer!

Nothing can take away rakugo from me even if I have to turn into a shivering chihuahua (I got nothing against this breed).

The funny thing is that as soon as I got the librarian job, I have been asked to perform rakugo at 3 different places!

Yes, it’s always a struggle to stay being a performer when you are well into your middle-aged years, but hey the world will be a boring place if everybody grows up completely.

Idiots like us keep the world sane.

“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”

Dalai Lama

Eishi’s Year 2021 Wrap-Up

What a roller-coaster of a year!

The year 2021 began peacefully, almost too peacefully, here in New Zealand as if we were completely intact from the you-know-what.

Then, we (mainly us Jafa‘s) rejoined the rest of the world .

Sure, it absolutely sucked to home-school my children for 1/3 of the year, but this year also turned out one of the most glorious years in my English Rakugo journey!

Here’s the timeline of the GREAT things that happened this year:

January 2021

I FINALLY completed my Creative NZ-funded project after requesting for an extension

March 2021

English Rakugo Association had its launch at Edo-Tokyo Museum

Fiona Amundsen and I produced an Asia NZ Foundation-funded video project Half-Life, which became the prototype for our later project An Ordinary Life (commissioned by Christchurch Art Gallery)

May 2021

Rakugo Association of America was born

June 2021

Talking About Rakugo : The Japanese Art of Storytelling by Kristine Ohkubo was published

July 2021

I had my first Wellington performance at NZALT conference

An Ordinary Life was exhibited at Christchurch Art Gallery (until November)

August 2021

I was accepted as a Special Member of the English Rakugo Association

December 2021

I completed a full-immersion Māori programme (Te Ataarangi through Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi; continuing on to the advanced level, Te Kaupae 5& 6, next year!)

Note: One of my dreams is to perform rakugo in Māori someday so that I can give my taonga to this beautiful Aotearoa!

As you can see, this year indeed was a very crucial year in my rakugo journey regardless of all the lockdowns and my current status as an unemployed performer. All this was possible especially thanks to all the people like you… who are still reading this article all the way down here 😁

We never live alone.

Thank you so very much for being a part of my life!

May 2022 be a year of unity, empathy, and some good stories and uproarious jokes!

Here’s my special thank you to:

Asia New Zealand Foundation, Creative New Zealand, Auckland Council, Christchurch Art Gallery, University of Auckland, Embassy of Japan, Auckland Council Libraries, Onehunga Community Centre, NZ Japan Society, Paul, Echo, & “Kazuma” Janman, Yasheeka Bertram, Kirsty Sharp, Bevan Chuang, Athena Dennis, Kristine Ohkubo, Miki, Alex, Fiona Amundsen, Dr Valance Smith, Kanariya Eiraku Shisho, Kanariya Jincho, Kanariya Aimu, Kumiko Imai, English Rakugo Association, Aoteya Rakugo Club (Pukeko, Raki, Sakura, Ichigo), Fookes Family, Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee, X, M, & M, and my supportive family members!

* This list is in a random order and not conclusive. I hope I didn’t miss out anyone…

Eishi’s Secret Film Project Revealed!

How are you all doing? Eishi here AGAIN!

Thanks to my voice issues, I’ve been finding my creative outlet in writing this week. Hope you are not sick of reading my version of War and Peace.

The title today is a…

click bait…

but I am telling you more about the film project that I mentioned in another post.

It is an Asia New Zealand Foundation funded film project, and it will be directed by the dangerously talented film director/ academic extraordinaire, Fiona Amundsen.

This will probably become one of the most important works in my life as a rakugo performer and a human being.

It is all Fiona’s concept, and I just happen to be someone with the knowledge and skills that she needs to complete her project.

As a film director, an aikido practitioner, and a good human being who understands the utter stupidity of war, she came up with a concept to combine the remembrance/ reminder of the mistakes humans committed in WWII, the aikido concept of Zanshin, and the Japanese traditional storytelling of rakugo.

We connected closely especially because of our stance on war, and we have decided to create something that would hopefully show better options for fellow humans.

As some of you may know, I lost my great grandfather and other family members in Nagasaki, and my grandpa and great uncle were both hibakusha.

So I have a very strong reason to get involved in a project like this.

We have just started working together yesterday, so I thought this is a good time to let you know.

For those who want to know more about this project, please read Fiona’s interview. It was written for Tokyo Biennale, but we are trying to create the New Zealand version of this film/ installation.

My Rakugo Resolutions 2019!

I guess it’s about time to share ’em, eh?

Happy New Year! 明けましておめでとうございます!

Hope you had fantastic Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with your beloved ones! If you are interested, you can check out what I was up to during the holidays on my Twitter.

As the Heisei Period is coming to a close in less than 3 months in Japan, I am feeling this groundless hope for a new beginning! I can already feel that this year will be AMAZING!!!

It’s already been 10 days into 2019, and I guess it’s about time to disclose my Rakugo resolutions for this year!

As I tend to be unrealistic about my goals (& I almost always don’t reach them…), I have decided to set realistic goals that are reachable yet not too easy this year.

Here are my resolutions for 2019!

  • Do 50 performances minimum: As I am traveling most of January, I have 11 months to accomplish this. Due to my health, this might be a bit challenging but doable!
  • Learn 12 new Rakugo stories minimum (1 of which has to be my original story)
  • Learn 30 new Kobanashi (short stories/ one-liners)
  • Finish 1st draft of my Rakugo book: It’s been about 70% done for a very long time…
  • Wellington tour: If you are a Wellingtonian, please host me!
  • Improve “small talk” skills: This is probably the most embarrassing goal to share here, but I really suck at small talks. If you know me well, I am an enthusiastic conversationalist when it comes to “big topics” (ex. politics, philosophy, or even meaning of life), but I am very poor at the initial stage of relationship building. My Rakugo career would probably go further if I mastered this skill, which I really should have learned when I was a teenager.

Now I have shared these publicly. There’s no going back!

Have an AMAZING year, everybody!