RSVP now! Rakugo X Origami Collaboration at Titirangi Library!

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I am super excited to announce that I am performing Rakugo at Titirangi Library!

The library has a very special place in my heart as it was the very first library I signed up with when I first moved to New Zealand about 16 years ago.

This show will be extra special as it is the very first collaboration with a Japanese origami artist from Origami Workshop.NZ.

There is an Origami display near the front desk of the library that you can enjoy on the performance day.

All the pieces are inspired by the two Rakugo stories I will be performing: “Jugemu”(寿限無) and “A Smart Boy”(真田小僧)!

It’s a few weeks away, but I am already excited!

Make sure to RSVP here as the space is very limited.

Thank You, Onehunga Library!

Yesterday I had one of the most special Rakugo performances at Onehunga Library.

It is the local library that I visit 5-6 times a week (yes, I am a book worm!), and well I even worked for them for 6 1/2 years.

The Onehunga community has always had a very special place in my heart, and it was my great privilege that I could share the art form I love in the neighbourhood I literally love.

The event was attended by 30-ish people, who were all warm and welcoming.

They initially didn’t know what to expect as it was their first encounter with Rakugo, but once they were warmed up they had some genuine laughter that made me feel that we were truly one somehow.

Not limited to Rakugo, stories bring people together.

They unite us regardless of differences.

We connect through the common threads as humans that run through us all.

It was truly a beautiful experience, and I would like to thank every person who shared the special occasion with me.

I will be performing at other libraries as well, and it is my not-so-secret goal to perform at all 55 branches of the Auckland Libraries!

“Rakugo& Ramen” Done… Now Time for Rakugo at Onehunga Library!

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Thank you for coming to the first time ever “Rakugo & Ramen” at Ramen DO the other day!

It was an exciting opportunity for me to perform at my favourite Japanese restaurant in Auckland.  Admittedly though, it was also the most challenging environment to do Rakugo, as half the people came to watch my performance and the other half just wanted to be left alone to enjoy the beautiful ramen noodles (fair enough) 🙂

I will probably need to change my strategy next time… perhaps a bunch of “Kobanashi” (one-liners) and just one Rakugo story instead of two?  I have learned heaps, and I can feel myself grow as a performer each time I get on stage.

So… as in the title, another show is coming up at Onehunga Library next week.  I am very much looking forward to it as it is my old workplace and I live in the community.

Without exaggeration, I believe that a public library is the closest place to heaven on earth.  How many other public facilities are truly open to literally all people?

Another show is getting organised at Titirangi Library in July.  I will update here once the details are confirmed.

Hope to see you there!

Rakugo& Ramen!!! New Regular Shows Are Happening Soon!!!

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What can I say?

I am really excited!

New regular shows will be happening very soon!

I had been in search of a semi-permanent venue where I can perform Rakugo regularly, say, at least once a month to promote Rakugo to the New Zealand audience and also to improve my skills as a performer.

One of the hardest things in this attempt was that I had to start from explaining what Rakugo is before even asking for performance opportunities.

After a few futile attempts, I got hungry.

Very, very hungry.

I had this mysterious craving for Ramen noodles, my all time favourite food.

Then, a brilliant idea flashed into my mind.

How about doing Rakugo at a Ramen restaurant?

Both words happen to start with “Ra”.

“Ra” happens to be the name of an Egyptian god…

No, I wasn’t thinking that, but it actually felt quite promising.

So I decided to approach ら~めん道(Ramen DO) my favourite Ramen restaurant that is run by my favourite person.

After an hour of catching up and discussing the show, “Rakugo & Ramen” was born!

The first one will be held at 7:00PM, Mon 28 May 2018!

The date for the second one hasn’t been set yet, but it will be sometime in June.  The timing will be posted here or on my Twitter.

Come enjoy Rakugo and Ramen… at the same time!

What People Say About Hiroshi’s Rakugo?

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“Hiroshi is a wonderful and talented storyteller full of charm and charisma! We very much enjoyed his Rakugo performance; The evening was filled with both funny and dramatic moments enthused with the spirit of Japanese culture! Highly recommended!”

E. Backler

“I recently had the opportunity to see Hiroshi perform Rakugo in English. He explained the artform and its conventions for those of us unfamiliar with it and performed two well known stories “Jugemu” and “A Summer Burglar”.

He was obviously well versed in the performance style and his translation made the stories both accessible and enjoyable.

Highly recommended.”

Julia Clement, Comedian

“I enjoyed so much the Rakugo show that Hiroshi performed, I had never experienced this before. I lived how we were drawn in to the story and into the relative stillness of the performer. I loved how he explained the moving of the head denoting status and characterisation – it was great to learn about it and then witness it, you felt “in the know”.

I liked the kiwi elements, it also made me feel included in this ancient practice, it helped me to relate.

I would love to hear other Rakugo in the future.”

Julie Watson

“日本にいた時も落語が好きで時々聞いていましたが、英語で落語を聞くのは初めての体験でした。ヒロシさんの英語はとても流暢で聞き取りやすく、表情の豊かさ、表現力の素晴らしさに終始魅了され、ずっと笑いっぱなしの公演でした。日本の笑いの文化をニュージーランドにとどまらず世界に伝える文化大使として今後もぜひ頑張ってください!”

Tさん オークランド在住

“当日は、こども達と『何度も絵本で読んで楽しんだ「寿限無」を英語で表現したらどうなるんだろうね???』とワクワクしながら会場へ向かいました。落語を生で鑑賞することが初めてでしたが、内容を全て知っているお話しでも話し手の表現力でこんなにも楽しく、大笑いできるのだなと感心しきりでした。こども達もとても楽しんでいたようで、私の隣でよく笑っていました。

次回は家族で英語落語を鑑賞しに行きますね。”

M.A.さん オークランド在住

THE BEST Rakugo Podcast EVER in the English Language!

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Would you believe me if I said that there is a professional Rakugo performer, who is also a Yale University graduate?

The traditional world of Rakugo and the apex of American academia seem so far apart and almost impossible to coexist.

Believe me or not, there is one.  Only one in the world, to be precise.

His name is Shinoharu Tatekawa (立川 志の春), the third apprentice of the Rakugo giant Shinosuke Tatekawa (立川志の輔).

I stumbled upon his Podcast recently, and it is really amazingly done.  It covers all aspects of Rakugo in English, and I can almost say it is THE BEST introduction to Rakugo for those who do not understand Japanese.

I can’t recommend it more highly.  Here’s the link!

Rakugo – Japanese traditional style comedy –

Great News! Look Closely at the Flyer!

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First of all, look at the e-flyer above very closely.  I distributed it at the performance last night.

Did you notice anything?

Hint.

Focus at the bottom right corner.

Yes, my funding application has been approved!!!  My project is now funded by Auckland Council’s Creative Communities Scheme.

It was approved on 10 April 2018, two days before the show.

What this means is that the funding now covers the cost for the venue and printing expenses for my flyers and marketing materials.

Yes, I am still performing Rakugo out of love (i.e. for free after other expenses), but it is now without a financial risk thanks to the scheme.

Thank you the Auckland Council for this opportunity!

First solo show done! Correction to my answer from Q&A Session

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Thank you so very much for coming to my first solo show this evening!

You are a legend for coming to support the event right after one of the worst storms ever in Auckland! I love you my dear audience! (Too much?)

Tonight’s stories were “Jugemu”(寿限無)and “A Summer Burglar”(夏どろ). I personally like performing “A Summer Burglar” better, but “Jugemu” got a much better response.

In the Q& A session, someone asked me how old these stories were.  I gave an answer that I’d thought was right, but I was COMPLETELY wrong.

According to my quick research, the prototype of “Jugemu” is found in a book called “Karukuchigozenotoko” (軽口御前男) published in 1703!

“A Summer Burglar” first appears in “Kinokusuri” (気の薬) published in 1778.

So, we can say “Jugemu” is 315 years old, and “A Summer Burglar” is 240 years old.

Reference

“Rakugo Techo” by Seiichi Yano

 

Possibly the Best Online Resource for Ukiyoe Fans!

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My friend recently told me about this AMAZING website by the Library of Congress where you can browse and even download images of Japanese fine prints before 1915.

I assume that people who visit my website are already interested in the Japanese culture, so I thought that it might of interest to you.

Here’s the link for Fine Prints: Japanese, pre-1915 Collection.

I personally found that the easiest way to browse is to go into the “Slideshow” mode (select under the drop-down menu and click “GO”).

Enjoy!

Free English Rakugo Performance at Libraries, Schools, or Japanese Restaurants? I will be there!

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Daylight Saving is ending this weekend… on April Fool’s Day.

As I consider numerous prank opportunities, I am reminded that my first solo performance is looming up on 12 April!!!

As such, I am currently looking for places to hone my skills leading up to the performance.  I was wondering if any of you awesome readers know of places that would give me opportunities to perform in the next few weeks.

I especially love performing at high schools and libraries, but Japanese restaurants might benefit from having me.

There is no guarantee, but I would probably be able to bring 10-20 extra customers to your restaurant, and I do not charge a cent at the moment.  How about a free Rakugo show on a quiet day at your venue?

I have indeed found a producer, and he will (hopefully!) start managing me from next year… So this free performance deal will not last very long!

Whew, I have to be a sales person to sell free stuff, and I have found it quite challenging so far.  I wouldn’t make a good real estate agent.

Let me know if you know someone who is interested!