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!!!

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!!!!!