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Everyone’s having a laugh in Kinokuniya

by Akira Okubo

Staff Writer

Rakugo, a traditional form of comic storytelling in Japan, deals with anecdotes about human nature. Described as a “performance of imagination,” it is usually done on an empty stage with the artist kneeling on a large cushion and acting out the roles of all characters in the tales, expressing their actions using just two props — a fan and handkerchief.

On July 8, Rakugo Comedy Night in English, at Kinokuniya Southern Theater in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, brings together three professional traditional comedians to share their Japanese-style humor.

Kaishi Katsura is an experienced English-language performer, having given more than 300 performances in 15 countries. He believes that rakugo can help change what he say is a common misconception overseas — that the Japanese lack a sense of humor.

Diane Kichijitsu, born in Liverpool in England and now based in Osaka, has been performing rakugo in both Japanese and English since 1998. As a former backpacker, she often uses her international experience in her skits. The third artist, Michiyo Kagami, is an expert of daikagura, a traditional performance art that involves dancing and acrobatics such as balancing acts.

The Japan Times has 10 pairs of tickets to Rakugo Comedy Night in English to give away. To apply, visit form.japantimes.co.jp/giveaways/whatson/. Deadline is June 30. Personal information of successful applicants will be shared with Kinokuniya so that tickets can be sent directly. The event takes place at Books Kinokuniya Southern Theater in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Admission is ¥1,500. For reservations and tickets, call 03-5361-3321. For more information, visit bit.ly/rkg0627.