Never miss the Japanese verbal entertainment: Rakugo
In Japan, Rakugo is the traditional art of storytelling. It was developed as a form of entertainment for ordinary citizens during the Edo Period (1603–1868). Rakugo means "fallen words". It is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. Rather than scenery or complex props, the often comic monologues rely on the skill of the teller. Many different kinds of entertainers would perform the generally humorous monologues at first, but gradually specialists emerged. Now, these are known as rakugoka. The storyteller, dressed in kimono remains seated throughout the performance, playing the parts of several characters and acting out different scenes with only a fan and a hand towel as props.
To inspire the imagination of the audience through the skill employed in portraying the world of the story is the job of the rakugoka, they Unable to fall back on costumes and scenery. Ochi is the punch line, for a successful performance a good delivery is essential. Among two or more characters the story is narrated as a conversation. From one character to another performer switches, changing his voice, facial expression, mannerisms, and accent to fit the person who is speaking. For 30 minutes the monologue typically lasts and ends with a surprise punch line, a narrative stunt known as ochi (fall) or sage (lowering). From Buddhist sermons, Rakugo originated. To illustrate the spiritual principles of Buddhism the priests used dramatic stories such as the transiency of life, ephemeral reality of secular values, and others. The rakugoka tells of a long, traditional story in a comedic way, with only a single paper fan known as sensu in Japanese and a small cloth or hand towel known as the props used for the purpose of his performance, "tenugui" in Japanese.
It was known as karukuchi initially, its first kanji appearance dates back to the year 1787, about this kind of verbal performance. In the middle of the year 1868 and the year 1912, the term "rakugo" was first used to replace karukuchi during the Meiji period. By introducing their tale they begin, first by addressing topics related to current events. Mainly to create a friendly atmosphere with the spectators they include their criticism of society. Performing as a rakugoka is a profession today practiced by only about 500 people in Japan. Only for men it was something long reserved, and it wasn't until 1993 that a woman could also become rakugoka. Only the conversations between characters appear in the story in Rakugo. The performer therefore must be able to play the role of each distinct character. Rakugo historically had a social role as well, just like many other forms of comedy among their respective cultures around the world. A tradition for learning Rakugo became established, As Rakugo became popular. If someone wishes to become a pupil of a favorite Rakugo performer the person goes to the performer and asks to be accepted as a student. The Rakugo-ka takes in the pupil if the professional Rakugo performer finds the prospective pupil to be talented and chooses to teach him. The master verbally trains the student. The master tells a story first, perhaps one of his favorite repertories. The student then imitates it as best he can. The pupil is able to add or modify the style and introduce some originality to the story after much practice. As the training is verbal, no written text is used. When [Rakugo] started many people were unable to read, therefore, the tradition has been passed on through the generations, probably part of the reason for the oral emphasis. It has become acceptable to use audio and videotape recently, but the written text is still not employed.
There are about 300 popular stories created by current Rakugo artists which are still performed as classic Rakugo in addition to many new stories. To remains the essence of Rakugo even the new stories follow the structure of Rakugo. As stand-up comedy Rakugo is not the same. If it ever picks up in the West the culture rakugo would probably look completely different. In the development of Rakugo, many artists contributed. Some of them were simply performers, but many also composed original works. Anrakuan Sakuden (1554–1642), the author of the Seisuishō was one of the rakugoka of the Tokugawa period. During the Edo period (1603–1867) Rakugo became a form of popular entertainment when it was often performed in vaudeville-type urban theaters called yose. Since the late eighteenth century, the presentation and style of rakugo performance have changed very little, but the storyteller's freedom to improvise and incorporate modern slang and references to recent events has kept it popular. Constantly new stories are being created and added to the traditional repertoire of over 300 classic stories. From them, Rakugo performances, or comic sketches derived, often appear on television, and modern rakugokas (Rakugo performers) also perform in other capacities as actors, comedians, and hosts of television shows.