When I was interviewed by the author, Kristine Ohkubo, for the book, I thought to myself in a fake British upper-class accent:
“Oh, it’s so lovely she’s writing a book for rakugo newbies.” (* I don’t think the aristocrats use the word “newbies”… or “rakugo”.)
Oh my gush, I was so, so, so wrong!
This book is a gem full of rakugo knowledge. It is a one-stop-shop for rakugo newbies and connoisseurs alike!
The book opens with how rakugo began its journey and evolved into its present format. It introduces most of the legendary masters including Kokontei Shinsho V, Sanyutei Ensho VI, and Tatekawa Danshi V.
The truly unique feature of this book is that it covers such subjects as female rakugo performers, rakugo in other languages, and even Sign Language Rakugo!
But its biggest feature is that it includes 16 of my master’s rakugo scripts in English!!!
Now… let me sidetrack for a minute.
The author, Kristine Ohkubo, somehow managed to keep it a surprise for me that my master was actually her co-author until very recently!!!
So did my master Eiraku…
Now I know these two people are excellent at keeping secrets… something I had not known…
Getting back to the rakugo scripts, the following stories are included in this book, with which you can enjoy and/ or perform yourself:
Another Bottle of Sake (Kawarime)
The Summer Burglar (Natsu Doro)
Browsing in the Pleasure Quarter (Nikai Zomeki)
Faceless Ghost (Nopperabo)
The Father and Son Who Love Drinking (Oyako Zake)
Foxes in Oji (Oji no Kitsune)
Gonbei and the Racoon Dog (Gonbei Danuki)
Gonsuke’s Lantern (Gonsuke Jochin)
Okiku’s Dishes (Okiku no Sara)
Peach Boy (Momotaro)
Test Sake (Tameshi Zake)
Time Noodles (Toki Soba)
King Lear (Lear Oh)
The Replacement of Enma (Enma no Irekawari)
Scary Hamburgers (Hanbaga Kowai)
Japan Milk Corporation (Nihon Miruku Kosha)
Did I mention that the book also includes extensive interviews with English Rakugo superstars like Katsura Sunshine, Tatekawa Shinoharu, and my master Kanariya Eiraku?
There is an interview of a lovely New Zealand-based performer called Kanariya Eishi, too.
Without any bias, I can confidently say that this is probably the best rakugo book that has ever been written in the English language.
I sincerely hope that this book will spread rakugo to the end of the world!
This is the beginning of a new chapter in English Rakugo.
Please read the entire article if you are planning to join Aoteya Rakugo Club.
The funding for Aoteya Rakugo Club has just been extended until December 2021!
I am really excited about this and extremely thankful for the Onehunga Community Centre for continuing their support for the club!
Thank you so very much, Auckland Council, for your continued support!!!
This Could Be Your Last Chance To Join Us
Before talking more about the club, I would like to inform that this could be your last opportunity to join the club.
At the end of last period, I (Eishi) had a heart-to-heart talk with the current members, and we agreed to go on until December and only continue after this period IF we double our active membership to around 10 by the end of the current period.
Our aim has always been to promote rakugo to as many people as possible, but if the current situation (only 5 active members) continues, I (Eishi) feel like it would be more effective for me to have more public weekend performances instead (unless the club becomes a hub for rakugo enthusiasts).
I really love the members and am very thankful for all the support we have received from the community, but I have come to this decision.
This is not a marketing tactics 😃, and if you want the club to keep going, please do join us now!
Even though the purchase of the book is NOT required, it is highly recommended as it covers a lot of what is taught at the club, and it also includes 16 of my master’s rakugo scripts! I am introduced in the book, too. You can purchase the book from here.
As I went through the entrance of the Christchurch Art Gallery, I was greeted by the gigantic picture of…
I was there for the opening of the “Things That Shape Us” exhibition that began yesterday on 24 July.
As those who know me will know, I am a very private person and do not always enjoy “publicity”.
I am aware that it is a necessary evil to keep doing what I love to do, which is to devote my life to rakugo until my very last breath, but it did make me feel a little uneasy and exposed if I’m to be honest.
But I was there to witness the story that my creative partner Fiona Amundsen and I wanted to tell through our work “An Ordinary Life”.
This work is based on actual and imaginary dialogues with my late grandfather, who was a witness of the bombing of Nagasaki.
Before I talk about this work, I’d like to be clear that it is NOT our attempt to victimise Japan or Japanese; I am deeply ashamed of our colonial past and what my ancestors did particularly to other Asian and Pacific nations.
It is our attempt to capture something universal, regardless of our race, nationality, belief, or religion, through my personal experience with my grandfather whom I deeply adored and respected.
It is a very personal account that is now open to the public.
My grandfather was an unconventional man for his generation.
He turned an artist (calligrapher/ shakuhachi, bamboo flute master), a teacher, a pacifist, and even a feminist after the war.
He was the funny grandpa who always made people laugh even in the toughest of circumstances.
He was a flamboyant man and…
a very bad driver.
He was an excellent liar, too.
He had hidden most of his experiences in Nagasaki where he lost his father and siblings.
Very, very well.
Until his departure.
The inspiration for this work came when my mother told me about his journals on his deathbed.
They were full of darkness.
My mother destroyed all of the journals “to protect his honour”, and I was told what was written in there very selectively.
This made me want to know who this funny, cultured man really was.
I don’t even remember why, but Fiona and I talked about where my grandfather would be now before the opening.
My answer was, “He must be still on this side of the Sanzu River” (in the limbo state, somewhere between the worlds of the dead and the living, in the Japanese worldview).
At 4:00PM, all the artworks were blessed by karakia (Māori prayer).
Fiona said something like “Your grandfather is now blessed through karakia”.
I felt like my grandfather had finally moved on, but I was not too sure.
That night I was woken up in the middle of the night by a strange sensation as if some form of transformation was taking place.
Like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.
I was convinced that he had finally gone to the other side of the river and fallen asleep peacefully.
The next morning, I woke up to a text from my wife to tell me that our last remaining family member from the WWII generation had passed away.
Now all the family members who witnessed the war are gone.
A circle has been completed.
We must keep telling their stories on their behalf so that we will not repeat the same mistakes.
So that we will not lose our “ordinary life” that, after all, matters the most.