Rakugo is one of the Japanese traditional performing arts and is best described as Japanese comic story telling or sit-down comedy. The performer kneels and sits on a zabuton cushion and tells a story in a single sketch. The story consists of almost conversation only, therefore, the performer acts out different characters that appear in a story. Each story is fifteen to sometimes as long as fifty minutes and usually the stories have the twisted or funny ending with a punch line.
The humorous conversations seen in Rakugo scripts are reflection of Japanese daily conversation. Japanese don’t tell jokes as it has been well-known, but instead, Japanese have humorous conversation. Humor is expressed in conversation with cooperative attitudes between two or more people. It shows how well they know each other and how close their relationships are.
At the presentation, I will talk about history, the style, training system of Rakugo in the past and present. And then will discuss cultural elements and communication style of Japanese through Rakugo scripts. I will give lots of examples, even perform some examples, bring photos and some other materials to help understanding this traditional performing art, Rakugo.
Professor Kimie Oshima, Ph.D. is Associate Professor at Bunkyo Gakuin University in Tokyo. Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics. She has been active as an English Rakugo performer since 1997. Her performance has been to fifteen different countries and over thirty cities all around the world.