What’s Up With Eishi? [Voiceless Edition]

Hi all, how have you been? Hope everything is well with you over there!

I usually post my monthly updates on my YouTube channel called “What’s Up With Eishi?”, but this month I am writing one instead because I was literally voiceless for about 3 weeks and my voice is still around its 80% capacity as of today…

It all started during Auckland Lockdown 2.0.

One morning, I woke up with this violent pain in my throat, and I was convinced it probably would be… the virus.

Resigned to my fate, I let this super friendly nurse with super beautiful smiles stick a stick in my nostril.

Really… REALLY deep… which made me teary.

I remember feeling a sense of respect and fear at the same time for her to keep smiling all the way through the procedure.

Anyway, it turned out negative!

But this virus or bacteria caused the worst throat infection in my entire life…

The swollen larynx blocked my air pipe in my sleep the first 4-5 nights, which kept me awake most of the night.

Excuse my drivelling, but I just noticed…

You are not really here to read about my sufferings, are you?

In conclusion, my voice is back to about 80%, and I have started performing rakugo as usual!

I kicked off this week with a rakugo workshop for language teachers at my alma mater, the University of Auckland.

This morning I ran an online rakugo workshop for an intermediate school in Wellington.

I am working as an actor this Saturday and doing a play reading for Babel Theatre. It will be held at TAPAC, but I am not sure if it will be open to public.

You can probably gatecrash if you are really desperate (no guarantee!).

But the biggest news this month is…

The funding for developing a documentary film/ art installation has been granted!!!

I will be working with a very established documentary filmmaker.

It will deal with the concepts of war, aikido, and rakugo.

We are about to start this project next week!!!

And of course, I have to finish my Online Rakugo Project, which is due on Christmas Day!!!

I forgot to add that the rakugo club is returning at the end of the month! The venue is moving to Onehunga.

Busy life ahead!!!

Online Rakugo Project Starting Next Week!

As some of you may know, I spent the last two months recovering from a major-ish disc injury.

I am not writing this to get your sympathy, but I am just telling you why my “Online Rakugo Project” did not happen for so long.

Having said that, I am glad to announce that I have finally filmed two of my rakugo stories, and I will start posting them from next week!

In this Creative New Zealand funded project, I will post 10 very different rakugo stories on my online platforms, mainly YouTube and possibly Vimeo and IGTV.

If you still haven’t, please follow my YouTube channel as it will be an incentive for me to keep posting videos after this project is over. Please share about it with your friends and family as well.

I was initially not too sure whether to post videos as it is a consensus among rakugo fans that rakugo would not work in the video format. It is much more suited for the audio media.

Also, it would inevitably expose my limited skills and make it open to criticisms from rakugo purists (please be easy on me!), but I decided to post them for the following reasons:

  • I have been requested by quite a few people over the last few years. If that’s what my supporters want, I will provide! I perform rakugo for those people, not for critics 😃
  • As the world faces the Covid crisis, I want to cheer up people through my project, even if it is for a slightly bemused chuckle. Throughout my childhood, my peers always told me I had a “bored-sounding voice” (つまらなそうな声) but had a funny face. I probably should make the most of my “gifted” face.
  • It will be a good record of how primitive my skills were, looking back 10 years from now.

Finally, I was torn whether to have a small live audience for recordings or not. It is now possible to have an audience in NZ, and it is so much easier to perform in front of one. But I decided to talk straight to the camera instead, in solidarity with people in countries that are still majorly affected by the virus.

The first story “Chotan” is a little unusual pick to kick off the project with, but I couldn’t resist as I like performing quirky stories. It is translated as “Long-Tempered vs. Short-Tempered”, and it is a story about two best friends, one being extremely laidback, the other being quick-tempered. Hope you will enjoy it!

I will post it sometime next week!

Murder, Cursed Sword, and Rakugo

Hi all, Eishi here! How are you all doing?

Last night, I listened to a rakugo story called “Daimaruya Soudou” (大丸屋騒動 だいまるやそうどう) based on a real murder case that took place in 1773.

It is unusual for a murder to become the theme of a rakugo story, so I was quite fascinated by this tragedy.

I will not write about the details of this case, but if you are interested and understand Japanese, you can find more information here.

Though it is not clear what kind of sword was actually used as the murder weapon, in the rakugo version, it says that a sword called Muramasa was used.

If you ask any Japanese person what the most famous sword would be, they are likely to answer either Masamune or Muramasa.

You see a lot of references to these two swords in Japanese literature, movies, and even manga/ anime.

Masamune is often described as a sword that protects while Muramasa is a sword that harms and kills.

Muramasa to most Japanese people is a “cursed sword”.

Muramasa got a bad reputation as Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543- 1616), the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, was said to have lost his grandfather and eldest son by this sword.

Photo Credit: Ihimutefu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18271854

Pinky Promise- Japanese Style!

Hi all, Eishi here! Hope you are doing well 🙂

As you might’ve noticed, my blog is very random.

It is a pure reflection of who I am as a scatterbrained Japanese comedian.

Yes, everything here is written from the perspective of an English Rakugo performer, but the topics may vary from rakugo and Japanese language/ culture to wellness, positive psychology, and philosophy.

Today’s post is about pinky promise/ swear.

The other day my son asked me to pinky-promise to take him to a certain fast food restaurant once this chaos is over.

Pinky promise is cute, but do you know how it is done in Japan?

The action of a pinky promise is the same (as in the photo above), but we say the following phrase as well.

ゆびきりげんまん、うそついたらはりせんぼんのます。ゆびきった!

指切りげんまん嘘ついたら針千本飲ます。指切った!

This roughly translates as…

Pinky promise, if you tell a lie, I will cut your finger, hit you with the fist 10,000 times, and make you swallow 1,000 needles…

Kids often don’t know the whole meaning of this phrase, but this is what it actual means…

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you are pinky-promising with a Japanese kid, think twice.

Deliver what you promise, or else…

My Master’s Performance in Auckland!!! 英楽師匠オークランド公演!

Image result for Kanariya Eiraku

日本語の記事は一番下にあります。

My Rakugo master, Kanariya Eiraku, is coming to New Zealand for a performance (5 March) AND a workshop (4 March) in less than a month!!!

This is probably the first time in history for an English Rakugo master to perform AND teach in New Zealand. You really don’t want to miss this rare opportunity as I don’t know when he will visit here next time.

He is an internationally recognised performer and has toured in US, UK, Denmark, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Laos. His work has been introduced in various media in the world including NHK World and Rafu Shimpo. He is kindly dropping by Auckland on his way to performances in Sydney.

This show will be very significant for me as well because it will be an “Oyako-Kai” (Master-Disciple) performance, just the two of us. This is considered an immense honour in the rakugo world, and I really want to have a full-house to honour him. The capacity is smallish and only 50 (possibly extended to 60), so be quick to secure your seats!!!

You can purchase tickets from the links below:

PERFORMANCE

WORKSHOP (Participants to the workshop are treated to a complementary rakugo performance on 5 March!)

Hope to see you there!

Also, as this is a self-funded project, any generous funders are very, very welcome! Please contact me from here.

(日本語)

遅ればせながら明けましておめでとうございます!

タイトルにありますように、来月3月5日(木)に私の英語落語の師匠、鹿鳴家英楽師匠がオークランド公演をすることになりました。

鹿鳴家英楽師匠は英語落語の草分け的存在の一人で、今までアメリカ・イギリス・デンマーク・ジョージア・カザフスタン・ラオス等の国々で活躍され、NHKワールドやその他の世界のメディアで紹介されております。

今回はシドニー公演のついでにオークランドに立ち寄って下さることになりました。

親子会(師匠と弟子)として公演をしてくださるという大変な栄誉で、私としてはやはり満員御礼でお迎えしたいので、もしよろしければ皆様と楽しいひと時を過ごせたらと思います。

50~60人という小さな会場ですので、なるべく早めに下のリンクからチケットをご購入下さい。

英語落語公演のチケットはこちら

英語落語ワークショップのチケットはこちらワークショップ参加者は5日の公演を無料で鑑賞することができます。

3月4日(水)にはワークショップも開催され、見るだけではなく実際に演じる方法を学ぶこともできます。

また、サマーホリデーの直後という時期的な問題もあり、オークランド大学からの会場提供を除き、公共団体からの助成金がゼロの状態で運営しますので、もしサポートを頂けます団体様、個人様がいらっしゃいましたらご一報頂けましたら幸いです!ご連絡はこちらからお願いします。

5 Year-Old Rakugo Master!Seriously!

Readers, be prepared to melt today!

Ahem, I have at least two people whom I can safely call my “fans”.

They are the half-Japanese, half-French sisters who have been coming to my rakugo performances since the beginning of my rakugo career here in New Zealand.

That’s right, if you have been following me for a while, it is the sisters who make me origami medals every time they come to my performance (the one hanging from my ear in the photo).

The other day I bumped into them at my local library.

The older sister looked super delighted to see me and excitedly said,

“You know what, I just went to that Okiku’s well in Kobe you told me about!”

She was referring to a rakugo story called “Okiku’s Dishes”. For those who are not familiar with the story, here’s the youtube clip I made ages ago (you can always follow my youtube channel, too!).

I was already impressed that she actually went to a location in a rakugo story.

“It was a bit scary, though!”

Then, she said, “You know what? I perform rakugo for my family and friends!”

Whaaaaaat?

“What stories do you do?”

“Jugemu! I can say his name!”

“Oh, really… how cute! She’d probably know only a part of the name, surely!”

So I thought.

Then, she started reciting the name of the Japanese boy with the longest name ever.

PERFECTLY!

I was so impressed that I asked her mother if I could record her, and here it is. This is the voice of a future female rakugo master!!! Are you ready to melt?

But hey, this is not the end!!!

Her younger sister also volunteered to recite the name of Jugemu for me!!!

Here you go!!!

This so far has been THE highlight of my rakugo career!!!