Free Rakugo Workshops! RSVP by Mon 5 April 2021!

Hi all,

Hope everything is well with you and your loved ones!

Our Aoteya Rakugo Club is back in full swing 😃

I’m letting you know that I am considering running two free rakugo workshops for those who are thinking of joining the club.

If you have been wondering if rakugo is for you, this is a great opportunity to learn the basic of this Japanese traditional art of comic storytelling.

Having said that, this workshop will only go ahead IF we have at least 5 people interested.

Because I will use our usual rakugo club time and venue, I need to make sure that there is enough interest to justify this event as our regular members will miss out on our usual activities for 2 sessions.

I hope I was clear enough with bold fonts and underlines! 😁

If you are interested in joining us, please RSVP by Mon 5 April 2021, which is next Monday so that I have enough time to prepare for the sessions.

I haven’t run open workshops since 2019 and have no idea when I will run them next, so please take this opportunity if you are interested!

Venue: Onehunga Community Centre

Time: 2:00-4:00PM, 10 April AND 17 April 2021

More details to be provided to people who have RSVP-ed 😃

Rakugo History in the Making

Correct me if I’m wrong, but…

our Aoteya Rakugo Club is probably the oldest English rakugo club outside of Japan.

I am aware that there have been a few groups of self-taught performers overseas, but our club has a strong connection to Japan though me. So it’s perhaps more like the oldest authentic-ish club of its kind (it will never be authentic because I am a bit too unconventional… sorry!).

For your information, the club was established on Sun 6 Oct 2019.

Please do let me know if your club is older than ours as we are really curious!

Last Saturday (20 March 2021), after 1 1/2 years since its conception, we finally had our first performance, which had originally been planned in March 2020.

Again, I, Eishi, claim it to be the first English rakugo performance produced by an overseas-based English rakugo club (until corrected)!

It was a small performance but a meaningful first step for us especially after going through the four strict lockdowns here in Auckland.

I am just so thankful that the members did not abandon rakugo after so many interruptions.

Thank you all those who have helped us reach this milestone!

We are looking forward to having more public performances together!

Eishi’s Rakugo Vision 2021!!!

Happy New Year, everybody! 明けましておめでとうございます!

Hope you had a relaxing break during Christmas and New Year holidays 😃

This is the time of the year to make resolutions for the year… have you made yours yet?… so here we go!

Mind you… I have already failed my diet/ exercise targets in the first week, so let’s stick with my rakugo goals for now…

I will be focusing on 3 things this year:

1. Improve my ONLINE PLATFORMS (with special emphasis on my YouTube channel)

What I have learned through 2 lockdowns and all the restrictions due to the Covid crisis is that all live performers must improve their online platforms/ presence that would allow them to keep creating and supplement their income during a situation like the one we are facing right now. So I have decided to focus on the following this year:

a. Discover an irresistible “voice” that would woo the online audience 💖

I am very much a live performer, so I have been struggling to find my “voice” that would be appealing to the online audience. I want to develop my digital storytelling skills- presentation style, camera work, editing, etc.- so that I can entertain people online as much as when I am on live stage! It’s a completely different set of skills, so I need to learn from the scratch! 😃

b. Develop fairy tale and mystery rakugo 🦄+🧐=👍

In my attempt to discover my “online voice”, I have decided to write rakugo stories based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Edogawa Rampo‘s mystery novels. I chose these two sources because the former is so universal that it is approachable to most people and the latter is entertaining (it’s quite “pulpy”). But if you want me to be 100% honest, the copyrights for both of these have expired, so I can use their ideas freely, therefore I can focus on discovering my “voice” rather than spending hours overcoming writer’s block 😁 The stories I develop online will be performed live in the future!

c. I will acquire 1,000 followers on my YouTube channel by 30 June 2021!

To make my online work justifiable, I do need to start generating online income. You might be appalled that I am talking about money, but as a full-time performer I do need to think about the financial side of my rakugo journey so that I can keep doing what I do! If you have a burning desire to help me out, you can follow my channel. It’s free and takes a few seconds to do so!

2. Complete Te Ataarangi (Māori full-immersion) Programme

As a part of my rakugo journey, I have decided to attend a full-immersion programme to acquire the Māori language this year! The course is designed for working people, but it requires a full-time academic commitment.

I have decided to make this big commitment:

  • To learn from the depth of their language and culture, particularly from their oral tradition
  • To really understand Aotearoa/ New Zealand so that I can create a rakugo that is truly relevant to this country
  • To teach rakugo more effectively at schools (I teach rakugo at NZ schools)
  • To eventually perform rakugo in the indigenous language of this country- this is my way of showing absolute respect for te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (Māori language and its cultural protocols)

3. Expand English Rakugo Club

I want to devote myself more to the development of the English Rakugo Club.

I am NOT a leader type.

I am a lone-wolf, who likes to work on his own.

But I am realising more and more about the importance of building communities in this divisive world. I believe it is important that each person attempt building bridges for people from different walks of life with what s/he can do.

To me, rakugo is one of the few things that I can give, so I will use it to bring people together to build a better society. I want to contribute a small building block for a more connected, inclusive world.

I have always wanted to perform with the rakugo club members since I started the club in 2019, and my dream finally came true last weekend 😃

It was a tiny baby step (9 people all together!), but it was the first of many to come!

Eishi’s Rakugo Journey 2020

At this time of the year, I normally reflect on my rakugo journey and list things that I have accomplished during the year on this website.

But this year, I will instead list the names of the people who have encouraged, inspired, and supported me through this rather… memorable?… year.

I had never felt so strongly the interconnectedness of humans and that we never live alone.

So thank you every single one of you whose path crossed with mine this year to encourage/ support/ work with this one of the most indie performers in the world.

Kia ora, thank you, and doumo arigatou gozaimasu!

Asia New Zealand Foundation, Creative New Zealand, Auckland Council, University of Auckland, Auckland Libraries, Onehunga Community Centre, Babel Theatre, Auckland Playback Theatre, Paul & Echo Janman, Daniel Fernandez, Yasheeka Bertram, Kirsty Sharp, Bevan Chuang, Rina Kim, Athena Dennis, Kristine Ohkubo, Miki, Alex, Sydney Solis, Kanariya Eiraku Shisho, Kanariya Jincho, Kanariya Aimu, Fukuko Takahashi, Kumiko Imai, Aoteya Rakugo Club (Raki, Kazuma, Pukeko, Wine, and the Rakugo Girls), Fookes Family, Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee/ Sums Selvarajan and their team, Sophie Tomlinson, Fiona Amundsen, X, M, & M, and my supportive family members.

* This list is in a completely random order, and I hope I didn’t miss out anyone…

What You Learn at Aoteya Rakugo Club

As I reported in another article, the first and only rakugo club in Aotearoa (marketing, marketing, marketing!) has just resumed its activities after a long break due to the Covid crisis.

For those who didn’t know… which could include our establishing members… the official name of our club is Aoteya Rakugo Club.

We used to meet at the historical cottage in Albert Park in Auckland CBD, but we have relocated ourselves to Onehunga aka Eishi’s hood.

Even though we had 7 participants in the first meeting and it was a great start, I’m planning to increase our membership up to 15-20 (I will probably cut off after that).

We are looking for non-performing members as well, so you are welcome to join us as an observer and/ or a supporter of our activities.

It is free to join at this stage, thanks to the Auckland Council!!! Funding is due to its popularity, so please spread the word to keep offering this programme for free!!!

I am writing this to tell you what kind of things you can learn through this club. My sessions will cover the following:

  • Rakugo history
  • Rakugo techniques (distinguishing characters, props, etc.)
  • Memory techniques
  • Kimono knowledge (there will be a field trip to a Japanese antique shop to purchase kimono; cheap ones cost less than $20)
  • Characterisation unique to this tradition
  • Storytelling in general (not only bound by rakugo)
  • Writing and/ or translating rakugo scripts
  • Japanese culture in general (and also learn from different cultures)

You may have noticed, but we learn some unusual things like memory techniques, translation, and different forms of storytelling.

Over the years of working as an actor and a rakugo performer, I have learned some good memory techniques, which have freed up a lot of my time to learn scripts, and I will share them with you! I am very much into neuroscience and psychology, so my methods are evidence based 🙂

I once worked a translator, so I can help you with the translation of rakugo scripts as well.

Hope to see you there!

DATES: 2:00PM-4:00PM, every other Saturday: 14 Nov, 28 Nov, 12 Dec 2020

PLACE: Maungakiekie Room, Onehunga Community Centre (83 Church Street).  You can come in from Church Street (library entrance) and go downstairs. It is the first room on the left.

RSVP required!!!

Rakugo Club in Onehunga Report #1

Hi all, how have you been? Hope everything’s well with you all!

So… our rakugo club has finally resumed its activities after a long break due to the Covid crisis and relocated ourselves in Onehunga!

We had 7 participants including myself, and we had the most memorable new beginning with two special guests, one with a smiley face and the other with a cat face.

If you have been following my blog, you might have guessed, but they are the “rakugo masters” whom I introduced here a while ago.

They came back!!!

In yukata (a casual summer kimono) and ready to perform!!!

This is how this dream gig took place.

The night before, their mother e-mailed me saying that their older daughter had just performed “Jugemu” in front of her class for the Culture Day at her school. She obviously taught herself the entire story and actually performed it!

This was literally the best thing that’s ever happened in my rakugo career!

I somehow inspired this little girl to love and even perform rakugo in public!

When they started coming to my shows, I initially thought it was just a temporary thing, but it’s been a few years now.

So… I told her mum that the rakugo club is resuming the next day.

She hadn’t known anything about it but e-mailed me at the most perfect timing!

The girls showed up, completely ready to perform, and…

WOW, the older girl performed Jugemu almost perfectly!!!

The little one also recited the name of Jugemu for us.

I couldn’t believe they taught themselves by watching rakugo on YouTube!!!

We were all mesmerised and inspired by their performances!!!

They are planning to come back to the club whenever they can 🙂

I am very excited about the future of rakugo in New Zealand!!!