He has been active in the world of rakugo for 37 years, following his initiation with the Rakugo Tatekawa-ryu (C-level/ general course) in 1984. Seven years later, in 1991, he established his first rakugo class in Tokyo. He supplemented those classes with English rakugo classes in 2007. Eiraku, who currently heads the Kanariya rakugo group with over 50 members, has performed over 60 beloved rakugo stories including, “Jugemu,” “Tokisoba” (“Time Noodles”), “Shinigami” (“The God of Death”), “Scary Hamburgers” (adapted from “Manju Kowai”), and “A Faceless Ghost Called Noppera-bo” among others. He performs for enthusiastic audiences at hotels and international organizations such as JICA in Japan. His English rakugo seminars at schools and businesses have been well received propelling him to launch his first overseas tour in 2015.
Eiraku has toured the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Laos performing English rakugo, giving seminars, and introducing foreign audiences to the Japanese art of storytelling.
When he is not involved in rakugo, Eiraku teaches performance classes in English at the Kanda University of International Studies and Komazawa University.
Ichirin has been studying Japanese classical rakugo with Kokontei Komako and English rakugo with Kanariya Eiraku for over nine years. To date, she has mastered and performed 14 rakugo stories in Japanese and 18 rakugo stories in English.
She has assisted with the planning of several overseas tours for the Kanariya rakugo group, including tours to the United States, Georgia, and the United Kingdom. While performing for audiences in various countries, she has learned that humor is universal and people overseas are capable of loving and appreciating rakugo as much as the audiences in Japan.
She is a university lecturer by profession and she has authored several books pertaining to learning English. Ichirin uses English rakugo and kobanashi (short funny stories) to enhance her seminars at schools, universities, and businesses. Her favorite stories are “Tenshiki” and “Tanu-satsu.”
Koraku’s journey into the rakugo world began in high school when he joined a rakugo study group (rakugo club). In fact, he first stepped onto a stage in 1986 during a school festival. After graduating from university, he spent time working in Europe and the United States where he became aware of the importance of mixing comedy with diplomacy.
Back in Japan, he studied Japanese classical rakugo with Kingetei Ryoma and English rakugo with Kanariya Eiraku. Today, he performs rakugo at home and overseas with the vision of enabling people all over the world to experience traditional Japanese humor. Koraku is also an ardent linguist who is training to become Japan’s first multilingual rakugo performer. He favors humorous stories such as “Chiritotechin” and “Complimenting a Child.”
In 2019, he took part in an overseas rakugo tour taking him to the United Kingdom and Kazakhstan.
In addition to performing rakugo, Koraku manages an overseas marketing company called Wasabi Communications Co., Ltd. He is also the manager of Camino Co., Ltd., a sustainable products organization.
Simon loved rakugo even as an elementary school student and devoted himself to memorizing numerous Japanese rakugo stories he had heard growing up. In April 2014, he joined the Canary English Rakugo Co., with the hope of improving his English conversation skills; however, he could not set aside his love for the art form and soon began to think about introducing rakugo beyond the borders of Japan.
Wanting to expand his English rakugo repertoire, he embarked on a project in 2017 to translate various classical rakugo stories into English. To date, he has translated 10 of the 15 stories he regularly performs on stage himself. In fact, translating humorous Japanese rakugo stories into English is Simon’s favorite pastime. Stories like “Palanquin Bearers,” “Yoka-choro,” and “Ghost in the Kitchen Stove” are among his favorites.
Simon has a deep love for rakugo and even his five-year-old daughter can tell whether he is going to work or to his rakugo lessons based on his mood when he leaves his house! He claims to just be a “humble businessman” when he is not performing rakugo.