Rakugo: Jokes and Innovation
Sophia University provides summer session students with many rare opportunities. These include things like kabuki, tea ceremony, ikebana and Noh theater. Of all the events I have attended so far, Rakugo has been by far the most entertaining. I laughed and laughed. It's like stand-up comedy back home, except it is a traditional Japanese sit-down comedy. While usually performed in Japanese, this time the performance was given in English, just for us. It was amazing. Even though the actor does not speak English, he memorized the entire script (his friend had translated it into English) by listening to the soundtrack on a tape. The actor's name was Aro Sanyutei, and he has many videos you can look up on YouTube. He told 50-year old traditional stories and skits, but put his own twist on them by incorporating music and intense physical action. He was very good at engaging the audience in this experience and even asked to take a group photo with us after his performance. The highlights of the night included very well-done sound effects, a parody of the Lion King theme song and incredible 360 (and even 720 degree!) turns from a seated position on his knees. By far the best night this week has been Rakugo. I highly recommend seeing it. This man is amazingly talented, innovative and funny!