• Kyodo

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A Japanese “rakugo” storyteller performed for a mostly foreign audience in Washington on Tuesday with simultaneous interpretation and received glowing reviews.

“In rakugo, all you need is a cushion. It’s really simple, and the rest will have to be left to the imagination of the listeners,” Sanshi Katsura told the audience before performing the more than 300-year-old Japanese art.

Sanshi, 57, said he had felt anxious before the performance but later expressed joy that the simultaneous interpretation enabled him to strike a chord with the non-Japanese-speaking audience.

“In a performance like this (with interpretation), the Japanese audience laughs first and then the Americans. It’s good because I get to have so much laughter all the time,” he said.

He is currently touring North America on a trip sponsored by the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Rakugo is a traditional Japanese form of comic monologue in which a storyteller conjures up an imaginary drama by way of episodic narration and skillful use of vocal and facial expressions.

His next performance is scheduled for Chicago.

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