Rakugo From the Middle East!

Recently, I have been introduced to the tales by Nasreddin, a Seljuk satirist from the 13th century. It was my writer friend’s recommendation, and I got hold of this quirky wise man’s books mainly out of curiosity.

The very first story I read was about Nasreddin’s most unexpected response to a robber who had just stolen his belongings. I couldn’t believe my eyes as he acted as if he’d been straight out of the rakugo world!!!

This story can be easily developed into a rakugo script. I read on and found so many others that tickled my funny bone!!!

Yes, it was my complete ignorance, but I hadn’t expected something this comical would come out of this part of the world. (They would say the same about my country Japan… haha!!!)

It was really eye-opening.

This led me to explore other tales from the Middle East, and I bumped into the Tales of Juha. This one is a bit harder to develop into a rakugo story, but I can see some universal humour that can work anywhere in the world.

Come to think of it, some of the classical rakugo tales are of foreign origin.

“The God of Death” (死神), which was made famous by the manga masterpiece “Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju”, was based on a story by the Bothers Grimm of Germany. “The Zoo” (動物園) written over 100 years ago was originally from a British humourous story.

Good stories are universal and find their place wherever they are introduced to.

The power of stories!

English Rakugo Club IS Happening!!!【英語落語研究会始動!】


I’m very excited to announce that English Rakugo Club IS happening!!!

The three exclamation marks might make this sound more exciting than it actually is, but I have just booked a performing arts space for the first Rakugo Club meeting!!!

The first meeting will be in the workshop style, covering the basic of Rakugo, so you don’t want to miss the first one if you want to get involved!!!

Please let me know EARLY if you are participating. As the venue cost is covered by yours truly, I would like to cancel if there is not enough interest.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity!!!

VENUE: Kete Aronui (80 Onehunga Mall, Onehunga)

TIME: 10:30AM-2:30PM, Sunday 6 October 2019

COST: $10 koha to cover the venue hire and other expenses

Please let me know if you can’t afford the cost. Also, it is free for minors. Once community is established, I will apply for funding so you won’t have to pay.

I will eventually apply for funding so that you won’t have to pay a koha to join the meeting, but we gotta start somewhere!

If you happen to know a free venue I could use, please let me know as well.






会場 Kete Aronui (80 Onehunga Mall, Onehunga)

日時 10月6日(日) 10:30AM-2:30PM

費用: 会場費や運営費用を自己負担しておりますので$10 程の寄付を頂けると助かります。



2 Rakugo Shows Coming Up Soon!!!

Hi all, hope you are doing great!!!

My apology I am so terrible at updating this website, but I am letting you know that two rakugo shows are coming up soon!!! This is just a notice, but I promise to post something more interesting next time!!!

One is at the Auckland Zen Centre on Saturday, 31 August. I will be sharing the stage with the super talented artist (writer, musician, poet, filmmaker, and the list goes on)/ zen teacher Richard von Sturmer!!! What an honour!!! I am also interested in the Q&A session afterwards to hear how rakugo would be received by Kiwi Zen Buddhists.

The other is my main show at The Spreading Tree on Fri 13 September. As usual, I will be doing my new stories, which I hadn’t performed anywhere else!!! It is often experimental, so come enjoy watching me struggle or soar. In the past, I’d recorded a video message to myself two weeks prior to the show and showed it at the performance… I’ve also attempted improvising a rakugo story on the spot… which didn’t go very well…

Hope to see you there!!!

I Need Your Help! 英志からのお願い!


Hi everybody, hope you are doing well!!!

It’s been quite cold here in Auckland, but I am relieved that we are past the winter solstice… days are getting longer everyday!!!

As in the title, I need your help today.

Help that only takes a few minutes of your time (no money or effort involved!). Please read this till the end. Don’t go away quite yet!

It’s been almost 3 years since I started my English Rakugo journey in New Zealand, and now I have come up with a clear direction for the next few years.

Thanks to the funding from the Creative Communities Scheme and koha (donations) from generous donors, I have managed to produce my shows without taking financial risks.

Having said that, the general running costs of my rakugo project (website, transport, kimono, zabuton, etc.) have gone well above what I receive.

So… in order to make my project more self-sustainable, I have decided to run a Youtube channel to generate a little income so that I don’t have to go completely broke!

My friends and family, please follow my Youtube channel to help me out, the lone English Rakugo performer in the entire New Zealand.

Of course, a lot is lost when rakugo is filmed, so the way I make videos will be very different from the way I normally perform. I recommend you to watch it live!

I do not mind if you follow me and silence notifications, but it would be very, very helpful if you could follow my channel and even better invite your friends and family to follow it as well.

Thank you so much for all your help! Your help means a lot to me!












Things I Have Been Doing Under the Radar

You might be wondering what I’ve been up to as my “schedule” page looks rather sad these days. Someone commented on that, being worried about the future of my rakugo career 🙂

No need to worry, my friends, here are some of the things I have been doing under the radar. (If you follow my Twitter, I tend to update more than I do on here, by the way.)

One of the highlights has been performing at a conference for Kiwis who are going to the 2020 Olympics. I got to perform a brand new piece about a judo athlete, a character that was inspired by a real Kiwi judo Olympian.

Another memorable performance happened last week. It was at Consul General’s residence. I got to perform rakugo for the Auckland Consular Corps, a group of consul generals from various countries. The Consulate General of Japan Website has a few photos from the performance.

I have also done my first animation VO for a TV programme called “Tales of Nai Nai”.

Also, I have appeared in a display video for the Auckland Museum. I wonder if you can spot me!!!

Finally, my favourite under the radar performances have been at retirement homes!!! Those lovely residents make me happy and always remind me of why I do what I do.

The World’s First Poem about Rakugo Performers in English?

One of the things I have meant to share on this website is this possibly the first poem about rakugo performers in English.

It was written by a narrator/ actor/ writer, Stuart Atkin, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my rakugo master’s English rakugo school in October 2017.

I had a permission to share this on my website but somehow never happened until now (I did write about it on my Japanese blog, though).

So… ladies and gentlemen… this is possibly the first poem about rakugo in the English language! There are a few Japanese terms you might not understand. Please comment if you need any explanation. I’ll be super happy to answer!

The Good Old Days (Song of Rakugoka)

Yes, folks, this is it indeed:
Stories from the past we tell-
Trad Japan on a cushion,
And lots of laughs as well!
With just our voices, hands, and eyes,
A tenugui and a fan,
We build up pictures in your mind
Of life in Old Japan.
In kimonos yellow, turquoise, mauve,
Red and brown, sky-blue and green,
We talk of mochi, soba, fish,
And the bustling Edo era scene;
Chonmage, netuske, hibachi, nagaya,
Cats and doctors, tea and manju,
Wrestlers, travellers, vendors, bo-san,
Con men, courtesans, actors, too,
Not to mention roamin’ ronin,
Their swords just worn for fashion….
Stories we have on all of these
Here in our yose, told with passion;
Tales of folk life you and me,
Funny in lots of silly ways,
So sip your sake, sit back and laugh,
And enjoy with us the good old days!

― Stuart Atkin