The Cultural Affairs Agency has recently appointed 12 people as cultural ambassadors who will live abroad to help spread Japanese culture and art, including films and “rakugo” comic storytelling, agency officials said.

They will be asked to live overseas for one month to a year, during which they will promote art activities and help build networks between artists abroad.

The envoys include Shofukutei Kakusho, 43, a rakugo practitioner, and Takeharu Kunimoto, 42, a chanter of “rokyoku” narrative ballads.

Kakusho will conduct rakugo and paper-craft classes in Thailand for 1 1/2 months starting in December, while Kunimoto will visit Tennessee and play the shamisen in joint concerts with bluegrass bands for a year starting in September.

The other ambassadors are scriptwriter Mieko Osanai, 73, novelist Keiichiro Hirano, 28, actor Takayasu Komiya, 47, composer Shigeru Umebayashi, 52, film critic Chiseko Tanaka, 54, pianist On Mitani, 43, comic writer “Baron” Yoshimoto, 62, music producer Naoyuki Miura, 61, drummer Yoichi Watanabe, 44, and Meiji Gakuin University professor Inuhiko Yomota, 50.

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