“Talking About Rakugo: The Japanese Art of Storytelling” NOW ON SALE!!!

I am super excited!!!

Kristine Ohkubo‘s latest book “Talking About Rakugo: The Japanese Art of Storytelling” has JUST been published!!!

I haven’t been thrilled this much for a while, and this is easily one of the highlights in my rather drab life.

I have REALLY been looking forward to this day for the following very good reasons:

  1. The author is a big rakugo fan, and this book is her expression of her love for this art. She is even a fellow member of the English Rakugo Association!
  2. I just found out that my master Kanariya Eiraku is the co-author of this book!!! (I just found this out myself… both Kristine and my master kept this a secret for a long time… cheeky them 😁)
  3. I am featured in this book along with my rakugo superstars!

I can confidently say that it is the most accessible yet comprehensive book on rakugo that is available in the English language!

I forgot to mention, but the book even features some rakugo scripts by my master Eiraku!

The author has just notified me that she had ordered a copy for me to thank me for being a part of this book!

But I am the one who needs to thank her 😊

You can purchase your copy here!

Short Film “Half-Life”

This year I’ve had an honour of working closely with a multi-talented artist, Fiona Amundsen.

About two months ago, our short film, which incorporates rakugo, the Aikido concept of “zanshin” (残心), and remembrance of WWII, was released on Asia New Zealand Foundation’s digital platforms.

This work was a part of “IN TOUCH arts commissions” by the foundation, and I feel very privileged to be a part of this project.

You can still view this film/ artwork, but before you watch it, I’d like you to know a few things:

  1. My family’s experience in Nagasaki is only a personalised way of remembering our mistakes as humanity as a whole. I am deeply ashamed of what my Japanese ancestors did to many Asian nations and others, and this is no way our attempt to victimise Japanese.
  2. It is our way of finding the universal message of peace in the ordinary, everyday things.
  3. Part 1 is very dark and many may give up watching the rest, but Part 2 has some humour in it based on my own experience with my grandfather. But Part 2 only makes sense if you watch Part 1…

I decided to write this first because someone who probably hadn’t watched the work nor read the interview commented as below on the foundation’s SNS:

“Great idea! Let’s remember Nanking, Rangoon, Singapore, Jakaraka [sic], Port Moresby, and many many others too shall we?”

This work was created to do exactly that!

Here is the link to our work. You can also find our interviews on the page. Some of the super intellectual comments are by Fiona 😁

You can find other commissioned work here.

May peace prevail upon us all!

Kia tau te rangimārie ki a tatou katoa!

我々と共に平和がありますように。

“Talking About Rakugo: The Japanese Art of Storytelling” Will be Released Soon!!!

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2021 has proven to be one of the most important milestones in the history of rakugo!

Along with the launches of the English Rakugo Association AND Rakugo Association of America, a book titled “Talking About Rakugo: The Japanese Art of Storytelling” by Kristine Ohkubo will also be published soon!

This is the year of defiance for the rakugo performers and fans, and these auspicious events are the proof that the pandemic simply can NOT stop us from having fun and sharing the joy of storytelling and laughter.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the author for her sense of humour, strength, and indomitable will to give birth to this influential work while residing in one of the countries that were affected by the pandemic the most.

I have had the privilege of being a friend with the author for the last few years.

She is one of the biggest rakugo nerds that I know 😁, and she has even become a member of English Rakugo Association! (Did I mention that even I haven’t joined yet?)

She has been a great promoter of this art in the English speaking world, and the world of “English Rakugo” is eternally indebted to her.

There have been some academic books on the subject of rakugo in English (that put me, a rakugo performer, to sleep!), but I can confidently say that “Talking About Rakugo: The Japanese Art of Storytelling” will be the first book of its kind in English language that is accessible to everybody.

This is the way it should be as rakugo is an art of the poor and the ordinary (like myself).

The author hasn’t announced the exact launch date, but you can follow her SNS to find out the date first:

Amazon

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

RAKUGO Association of America is Born!!!

The other day I introduced the newly formed English Rakugo Association, but here is another exciting news to the world of rakugo.

As in the title, Rakugo Association of America was born YESTERDAY in New York!!!

Congratulations, Yanagiya Tozaburo Shisho!!!

To celebrate this special occasion, they are organising a free online performance/ workshop for children all over the world on Saturday 5 June 2021 (American time). It will be held bilingually in English and Japanese 😃

I believe that the details will be posted on Rakugo Association of America’s Twitter and website, which is under construction.

I will help promote the event via my SNS, too!

Exciting time!

A Rap About My Life! (With English Translation)

Hi all, long time no see! Hope everything is well with you!

I am sorry about my long absence… a lot have been happening in my rakugo journey… I will have to catch up in another article about my latest projects soon!

I have just realised that I have not introduced the rap song that my Japanese rapper friend, Kotaro Akiyama, kindly composed for me a while ago.

It’s really catchy, and a lot of thoughts must’ve gone into this project. I am very moved that he gave me this one of the most thoughtful gifts ever in my life! Thank you so very much Akiyama-san!!!

Some of my English-speaking friends have asked me for the English translation of the lyrics, so I will give you rough translation below next to the Japanese lyrics.

Sorry it will be a bit of a Japanglish!

Rakugo Life

Access to the audience’s imagination
This process is not always a success story
English Rakugo born in NZ, check out Kanariya Eishi
Fell in love with rakugo at the age of 10
The ordinary and the poor are on the centre stage
Silly episodes with loose screws
Adorable crazy characters

Crazy and adorable
Because I’m crazy!
S, s, screw, s, s, s, screw
Folks missing a screw or two unfold
Chaotic tales with punchlines

Jugemu jugemu gokouno surikire
Kaijari suigyono suigyoumatsu unraimatsu furaimatsu
Journey to the world of rakugo through shelves-full of
Cassette tapes from Oiso Library

Devoured hundreds of tales
The boy who dreamed of becoming a storyteller
Found himself being a stand-up comedian in America
Fell in love with his partner, a major turn
Tied the knot, to the southern hemisphere, New Zealand
Life is unpredictable, unforeseen plot
How you end your story is up to you
Time goes, scenery changes
Ain’t let go of the torch of passion
Ignite the fuse with sparks
Back to the world of rakugo again

Ecstasy in the rakugo universe 
Now share rakugo with pupils
Stage name gifted by Master Eiraku
Kanariya, yeah, extremely dangerous!
Check it out! Kanariya Eishi

落語人生ラップ

聞き手の想像力にアクセス
サクセスストーリーとは限らんぜこのプロセス
英語落語NZ産 鹿鳴家英志チェックしときな
落語に魅せられ10歳で虜
大衆貧困層が主に主人公
ねじ外れ滑稽なエピソード
クレイジーな様が愛らしいんだな

クレイジー愛らしい
Because I’m crazy!
ネッネジが ネッネッネネネネジが
1本や2本抜け落ちた市民が
やたら賑わす巻き起こす落としばなし

寿限無 寿限無 五劫のすりきれ 
海砂利水魚の水行末 雲来末
カセットテープで落語を楽しんだ
大磯町立図書館 行けば豊富にあった 
数百の噺貪りほうばった
噺家目指した少年は
いつしかアメリカに渡りStand-up comedian
ここでパートナーと出会って大転換 
結婚後移住 南半球 NewZealand
人生は意外 想定外な展開 
どこではなし落とすかはてめぇ次第
されば時が経てど場所変われど 
決して消さねぇぞ情熱灯を 
着火源 落語への導火線 
火花散らし舞い戻れ Back again

無我夢中 落語の宇宙 
今じゃ生徒に落語を伝授
師匠英楽から授かる屋号
鹿鳴家 yeah  かなりヤベー!
Check it out !  鹿鳴家英志