• Jiji

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Two associations of rakugo performers said recently that they will jointly launch a crowdfunding campaign to seek donations for the survival amid the coronavirus pandemic of yose entertainment halls that host performances including those of the traditional Japanese art of comic storytelling.

The groups aim to raise a total of ¥50 million by June 30 in donations for five theaters in Tokyo.

Yose theaters are under threat from the pandemic, incurring losses of around ¥2 million to ¥3 million every month, according to sources familiar with the situation.

In fiscal 2020, their sales plunged about 70% on average from the previous year, due to temporary closures and entry restrictions.

“Yose theaters are places where rakugo storytellers are based,” Ryutei Ichiba, head of one of the rakugo groups, told reporters. “We can’t lose them.”

The joint campaign by the two groups “itself represents the current critical situation, as it is rare for the two associations to do something together,” Shunputei Shota, who leads the other group, said. “We’d like to have your cooperation.”

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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