What is Rakugo?

It is Japan’s traditional art of storytelling which dates back to the 16th century.

 

Rakugo storytelling originated with short stories and the stories gradually became longer. The narratives are based on a wide range of topics, from comical to sentimental, and sometimes even tragic. They are conveyed by a lone storyteller seated atop an elevated stage called a koza, using only a paper fan and a hand towel as props. The tales involve conversations between multiple characters and the storyteller switches fluidly from one character to another, changing his voice, facial expression, and mannerisms to fit the character who is speaking. A slight turn of the head and a change in pitch is used to indicate a switch from one character to another.

 

In 1983, Katsura Shijaku, a very popular rakugo storyteller in Osaka began performing rakugo in English. He paved the way for the dozens of English rakugo storytellers who currently perform in Japan.

 

Members of the English Rakugo Association have performed rakugo in the English language both in Japan and overseas. We hope to bring this distinctive art form to your country once the pandemic has subsided.