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.

The Next BIG Show!!!!!

Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind. 

– Terry Pratchett

Hi all, Eishi here!!!!! Hope you are doing well wherever you are in this world!!!!!

As Great Grandmaster Pratchett revealed, I am aware that an overuse of exclamation marks would make me look insane, but…

what would you expect from a rakugo performer, eh?

Anyway…

I am letting you know that I have just been invited to perform at the Taste of Japan in January 2021! (OK, one exclamation mark is sufficient now…)

Before committing to the gig, I really wanted to see the venue to make sure it was suited for rakugo, so I visited ASB Waterfront Theatre this afternoon to check it out and have a meeting.

OMG… it was one of the most beautiful theatres I’ve ever been!!! No wonder it is the home of Auckland Theatre Company!!!

I am only given 15 mins max, though…

Hmm, I am not known as the most succinct person.

What shall I perform… but WOW I am really excited!!!!!

Online Rakugo Workshops Available for New Zealand High Schools

Long time no see, everybody!

Hope you are staying well regardless of the challenge the world is facing right now.

It seems like we Aucklanders will be stuck at home for a while…

As such, I will be running online rakugo workshops (in English) for New Zealand high schools this lockdown in partnership with the fantastic Asia New Zealand Foundation!

It is generously funded by the foundation, so you can enjoy my workshop free of charge.

The workshop is suitable for subject areas such as drama, Japanese, and English, and it gives your students something lighthearted to do at this time of uncertainty while learning this uniquely Japanese storytelling.

If you are interested, please visit this page for more details. The contact detail for the education adviser is listed under “Rakugo workshop” on the page.

Funding Approved!!! Online Rakugo Project IS Happening!!!

Hi all, Eishi here! How is everything going?

I am writing this to let you know that my funding application for “Online Rakugo Project” has been approved last Friday!!!

You can find out more about this project by watching the YouTube video below, but I am very much excited!!! 😃

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for following my YouTube channel!!!

I now have 135 followers and a custom url which makes it easier for you to access my channel.

Yes, you guessed it right!

My new url is https://www.youtube.com/rakugonz 😀

Thank you always for your warm support!!! There is literally no rakugo whatsoever without the audience.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Rotten Limbs and The Japanese Art of Tenacious Wish-Making

Hi all, Eishi here! How’s your week going so far?

The one-eyed ornament on my rakugo cushion above is called a daruma.

The word “daruma” is from a Sanskrit word dharma, which means the “cosmic law and order” as revealed by the Buddha.

It’s said that this Japanese lucky charm was inspired by the famous Shaolin monk, Bodhidharma, who is often regarded as the founder of Chan Buddhism in China.

“Chan”, by the way, is “Zen” in Japanese.

I don’t know if it’s true, but a legend goes that Bodhidharma pursued zen until his limbs rotted- this is why daruma ornaments don’t have their limbs.

Daruma is often seen as an incarnation of tenacity, and it is associated with a Japanese saying “Nanakorobi Yaoki” (七転び八起き ななころびやおき ), which means “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Because of this origin, it is often used to make a wish in Japan.

“Making a wish” might sound a bit light, so it is more like setting a goal that you really want to accomplish and ask something beyond our understanding for a guidance.

Here are the steps we normally follow:

Step 1: Enter daruma’s LEFT eye as you make a wish.

Step 2: Work hard and achieve the goal.

Step 3: Enter daruma’s RIGHT eye.

Step 4: Return daruma to a temple/ shrine to be consecrated and burned.

* It is recommended to be returned at the end of the year whether you have accomplished your goal or not.

So… I brought my daruma to New Zealand about a decade ago.

My goal was quite vague, but it was to stand at the starting line as a performer.

Though I have performed on many, many stages, I didn’t feel like I was quite there yet (Japanese stoicism speaking).

But when the lockdown started, I suddenly felt like I was finally ready to start the race.

I think I am ready.

So I finally filled my drauma’s right eye.

I am just about to begin the new chapter of my life as a performer!

I will take my daruma home when I can finally visit Japan after all this is over 🙂

Eishi’s Rakugo Rebel Studio is Now Open!

Hi all, Eishi here! How’s your day going?

Make sure to do at least one thing that excites you today!

As some of you may know, I was just about to partner up with the Asia New Zealand Foundation and start visiting Auckland high schools to deliver rakugo workshops before “Rona” hit New Zealand.

Just as many of my friends in the performing arts industry, I lost literally ALL the opportunities due to the situation the world is facing right now.

Including this partnership.

So I thought.

But, I was completely wrong!!!

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from them, asking me if I would be interested in delivering online workshops for housebound high school students!!!

Of course, I said yes!!!

Thank you so much, Asian New Zealand Foundation!!! You are AMAZING!!!

Here’s the proof 🙂

But there was an issue, though. I didn’t have a filming space…

I would’ve gone to a studio or a creative space somewhere to film learning resources, but I don’t have that luxury at the moment. I don’t have much privacy, either, as my kids are roaming all over the place… literally.

So I decided to make a part of the master bedroom into my semi-permanent recording space and named it the “Rakugo Rebel Studio”!!!

To block noises from the little cacophony artists, the “studio” will be barricaded with bed mattresses and futon as sound barriers during recordings.

We have decided to keep it until the new world begins i.e. Rona leaves us alone (my apology if your name happen to be Rona).

I will use this space to film the learning resources and possibly do live streaming sessions. Maybe I will film some YouTube videos, too!

Let’s keep on doing what we can for a better world!!!