Welcome to English Rakugo
What is English Rakugo
English Rakugo literally means performing rakugo in English.
Rakugo 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.
Event and Seminars
In Japan, in addition to our regular performances, we have held English rakugo shows and seminars at international organizations such as JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and UNESCO, as well as at private companies, schools, and hotels.
To date, our English rakugo seminars have served as training tools for employees at private companies and provided educational opportunities for students at various schools.
Our goal is to promote English Rakugo in Japan and abroad and to utilize it in a variety of settings.
One of our goals is to use English rakugo as a means for introducing Japanese culture to foreign audiences both in Japan and overseas. We would like to demonstrate the entertainment value of rakugo and inspire Japanese people to think of it as a method for introducing their culture.
On top of that, we would like to utilize English rakugo as a fun tool to help educate and encourage others to develop their English conversational skills. Oftentimes, schools and businesses lose sight of the fact that English is a communication tool. They devote far too much time to studying for examinations and much less time to learning how to effectively use language skills in communicating with others.
Learning English rakugo will help increase your confidence in verbal communication, liven up your speeches and presentations, and help you convey Japanese culture across the board.
大学を卒業してから数年間、英語通訳の仕事に携わる。その後、アメリカで演劇を学び、帰国後、英語教育と落語の世界にどっぶりと浸かっている。落語は、落語立川流の一般コースに所属していたことがきっかけで、1991年から落語教室を開講している。英語落語は桂枝雀に影響を受け、2007年に英語落語教室を開講。亭号の鹿鳴家（かなりや）には、明治時代の鹿鳴館のように、新しいことを積極的に取り入れていく一門でありたいとの思いを込めている。開講以来、国内、国外の教育機関、国際機関、企業、劇場などで、英語落語の公演とセミナーを開催している。これまでに公演した国は、イギリス、アメリカ、オーストラリア、ニュージーランド、デンマーク、ラオス、カザフスタン、ジョージア。これまでに演じた英語落語は、寿限無、時そば、ハンバーガー怖い（まんじゅう怖いの改作）、のっぺらぼう、死神、片棒など60席を超える。また、2021年から2022年にかけて、Eiraku’s 100 English Rakugo Scripts Vol. 1 など、英語落語に関する本を3冊書き、計59席の英語落語の台本を紹介している。
During my 13 years of living abroad, I met many people who had the impression that Japanese people are serious. Is this because of Hollywood movies? But Japanese people are not necessarily serious. Rakugo, the Japanese art of storytelling, tells funny stories about various people in everyday life. No matter where we live or which era we live in, there are always people who are daft, forgetful, thoughtful or have hidden secrets. These people are depicted in rakugo, which has been passed down since the Edo period (1603-1868). We want to spread these wonderful stories in English to people outside of Japan. Other Japanese art forms such as movies, music, Kabuki or Noh have been widely introduced, but rakugo is not so well-known outside of Japan. It would be nice if we can spread the power of laughter that English Rakugo offers. I have been involved in English education for more than 20 years and in rakugo for more than 10 years. Outside of Japan, I performed in Arizona（2016）, New York （2017）, and Georgia and England (London, Manchester, Edinburgh) in 2019. I also conduct seminars utilizing English Rakugo at schools, universities, and corporations. My specialty stories include "Tenshashiki" and "Raccoons".
Another name: Masako Uehara Lecturer at Kanda Institute of International Studies. M.A. in English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (King's College, London)
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.