-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
I played hooky and went to “yose” in Ueno to hear “rakugo” last Tuesday afternoon after so long.
I enjoyed it with a nice cold beer in my hand.
“Rakugo (落語)” is Japanese style comedy monologue, the telling of long humorous stories, mainly in the form of dialogs. It dates back to the late 17th century during the Edo Period. A rakugo performer (落語家,噺家) kneels on a cushion wearing a kimono, uses only a paper fan (扇子) and a small cloth (手拭), and depicts a story by playing multiple characters in it, so the audience can visualize the people in the scene. “Yose (寄席)” is a theater exclusively for rakugo. There were many yoses in Tokyo (over 700 theaters in the Edo Preiod!), but now the permanent theaters are only four in Ueno, Asakusa, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. Dr. Wikipedia details rakugo in English.
I love this Japanese verbal entertainment. Rakugo was popular among people of all ages until the 1960s or 1970s, but today, except maniac fans many of the audience is older people. I lived with my grandparent when I was a child and watched a lot of traditional Japanese performing arts like rakugo on TV with them.
I dropped into my friend’s izakaya (see Definition of Shitamachi 2010.04.11) after the rakugo. I happened to see one of the regulars there and told him about the afternoon. He said he bought a ticket of a rakugo event that’d be held on Thursday but wouldn’t be able to go because of another engagement.
Luckily, I got his ticket and went to hear rakugo two days after!
From next time, I’ll write articles about the event, “rakugo” and “rakugo stories”.