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Rakugo, a generous serving of Japanese comedy

 

How did I find out about rakugo? I saw a post on Facebook. It was the word “Japanese” on the description that caught my eye, and having interest in anything Japanese, I clicked on the post to read more.

 

Rakugo in Davao

Rakugo in Davao. Meet the talented cast (comic mode turned off)- Fukurya Katsura, emcee; Lucky Mai, daikagura; Eika Utsumi, onna dauraku; and the rakugo masters Kaishi Katsura and Asakichi Katsura.

 

“Rakugo in English, Japanese sit-down comedy in Davao.” The show produced by The Japan Foundation, Manila and All Nippon Airways with the cooperation of the Consular Office of Japan in Davao.

Interested. Very. I confirmed my attendance.

In an SRO venue, the first act’s performer, Rakugo Master Kaishi Katsura, took to the stage to share what Rakugo is—in the funniest way.

 

Rakugo in Davao

Rakugo Master Kaishi Katsura

 

 

Rakugo (literally “fallen words”) is a form of Japanese entertainment. In seiza-style (traditional Japanese way of sitting) on a cushion on a koza (stage), a one-man troupe of characters— from geisha to samurai, merchant to ninja—relates stories in a comical way changing the voice, facial expression and a slight turn of the head to portray the different characters involved in the story.

 

 

Only a sensu (paper fan) and a tenugui (small cloth) are used as props by the rakugoka (literally “person of the falling word”).

Rakugo dates back to 1787 and was known as karukuchi. It was during the Meiji period when the expression rakugo was used.

Eika Utsumi’s act came next with a musical story telling, which serves as a “colorful counterpoint to all-talk comedy”.

 

Rakugo in Davao

Eika Utsumi & her shamisen

 

In a very humorous way, Eika Utsumi shared her impressive credentials as Japan’s only onna-douraku artiste and a shamisen player in between strokes of the Japanese three-stringed instrument.

 

 

Not only was she successful in making the audience laugh with her short spiels, she also showed the audience why she Japan’s number one shamisen player.

 

 

It is said that Daikagura was originally a very sacred and serious performance since it served as a talisman to ward away evil. It’s also believed that it was performed “for the gods’ fun.”

 

Rakugo in Davao

Lucky Mai in action

 

If the gods had fun with the juggling, acrobatics, magic and dance, what more for the Davao mortals? Lucky Mai’s traditional clowning performance was indeed amazing.

 

 

Following Lucky Mai’s act was Asakichi Katsura, another Rakugo Master. He was as funny and entertaining as Kaishi in his skit.

 

Rakugo in Davao show

Rakugo Master Asakichi Katsura

 

If laughing does prolong life, then this Japanese troupe did a great job in extending the lives of a ballroom-full of people. We were truly a lucky bunch.

 

at Rakugo in Davao

Curtain call. A standing ovation for this amazing performers

 

Perhaps if there are other people to thank for this life-prolonging entertainment today, they are the Buddhist monks. In the 9th and 10th century, the monks made use of this technique to make their sermons interesting.

It soon was turned into a monologue to entertain the feudal lords. Then during the Edo period, the rakugo spread to the lower classes.

 

Rakugo in Davao

Granted. The rakugo troupe requested for a photo with the Davao audience

 

To the Buddhist monks and the rakugo in Davao artists who introduced us to the Japanese form of entertainment in English—Kaishi Katsura, Asakichi Katsura; onna douraku, Eika Utsumi; and daikagura, Lucky Mai— thank you is in order. Domo arigato gozaimashita!

 

Rakugo in Davao

After tons of laughter. A parting shot with cast & Japan Foundation Dir. Hiraoki Uesugi & Marco Polo GM Dottie Wurgler-Cronin.

 

Seen at the show:

 

Rakugo in Davao guests

Jean Andersen

 

Rakugo in Davao guests

Abdul Candao & family

 

Rakugo in Davao guests

CTO GeneRose Tecson & Ken Ong

 

Rakugo in Davao guests

Jing Puentespina, Patsy Ibbaretta & Leticia Averion

 

Rakugo in Davao guests

Ramvic & Em Rosales

 

Rakugo in Davao guests

Marie Tionko, Norma Soriano & Danney Barnett

 

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit www.ofapplesandlemons.com & www.jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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