Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rakugo Part 1

I headed over to Noboribetsu tonight to catch a performance of rakugo by a couple of the more famous rakugo performers in Japan, Sanyutei Rakutaro and Sanyutei Kouraku.

What is rakugo? And who are these two "famous" dudes? Let me explain.

I don't really understand that much about rakugo, as I've only seen it performed live one other time, in Matsue a few years ago. So clicking on the link above might provide you with better information than I can offer. But basically, as I understand it, rakugo is where a person tells an audience a story, acting out different parts and different actions using a combination of subtle movements and tools such as the fan they carry, all while kneeling on a cushion.

It's kind of one of those things you have to see to understand.

There's a program on TV Sunday evenings at 5:30 called "Shoten". It features seven famous rakugo performers who are given topics to make jokes or comments about. Usually they go for laughs, but sometimes they go for more pointed comments. Each performer has a certain style, and the interaction between them is quite entertaining.

Rakutaro and Kouraku are two of the performers on the show. I noticed a billboard advertising this performance on my way out to Tomakomai one night, and since Rakutaro is my favorite cast member of "Shoten", I knew I had to see this.

I got my ticket, wrote the day in on my schedule, and once work was finished today, I headed on over to the Community Center in Noboribetsu (after checking with a couple students about the location).

I got in, got a good seat, and waited for the show to begin.

It started off with Sanyutei Kousaku, a rakugoperformer who is studying under Kouraku. Not bad, a few good laughs, and a nice warm-up for...

RAKUTARO (picture right)! Very funny stuff.

Then a juggler by the name of Lemon, followed by Kouraku (picture left).

I've never been a huge fan of him, but he really impressed me this evening. He was funny, engaging, and all-around entertaining. I think Kouraku has a new fan.

After the show was over, the rush to leave the parking lot was nuts, so I was hanging out, and I happened to see the performers getting on their bus to head to wherever they were heading. I waved goodbye, and they waved back.

I smiled all the way home.

Freakin' fanboy.

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