MET Column

Rakugo has been pretty consistent for the last 400 years but it’s not as static as we might think. It’s changing and evolving to reflect the world around us.

日本語 Written by: Daniel Penso Columnist/Proofreader/Translator   As an avid rakugo fan, I enjoyed Kristine Ohkubo’s Talking About RAKUGO 1: The Japanese Art of Storytelling, a wonderful source for learning about the history of the art and those who have and currently participate in rakugo. In this interview, we talk with Kristine Ohkubo about that book and her thoughts about rakugo and what makes it such an interesting comedy form.   Please introduce yourself. My name is Kristine Ohkubo. I’m an author based in Los Angeles, CA. I officially began writing over a decade ago. I’ve published eight books to


We believe that Japan is suited to multiculturalism.

日本語 Interview by Isao Tokuhashi Edited by Jennifer A. Hoff (My Eyes Tokyo)   Menikaru Rakugo pair Does everybody remember the Swedish rakugo storyteller who My Eyes Tokyo interviewed in the past? At the time, he was performing amateur rakugo by the name “Borubotei Ikeya (Volvo-tei Ikea).” But in July 2016, Johan Nilsson Björk became an apprentice of Sanyutei Koraku, a well-known performer on the Japanese TV comedy program “Shoten” (笑点; English: “punchline”), and entered the professional entertainment world as “Sanyutei Juubee”. After about four years of training, he was promoted from zenza (前座, the lowest rank of performer)


Kadentei LoveMehta: Funny in Any Language

Shawn De Haven Researcher/Performer of Japanese comedy, Organizer of “It’s Funny in Japanese”   Today’s interview is with an extremely talented amateur rakugoka whom I first met while performing together at the Chiba International Rakugo Tournament. I thought his perspective as a foreigner interacting at a level with Japanese comedy, specifically rakugo, would be interesting and enlightening. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.  日本語   A Chance Encounter with Japanese Leads to a Change in Direction… Shawn: Please tell me about yourself. LoveMehta: My name is Nirav Mehta and I’m also known as Kadentei LoveMehta.


Rakugo is the dreamland in my life.

Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi Mail to:   Chi-Fen Wu (Taiwan) Rakugo Performer   We’ve covered some people who are engaged in a Japanese traditional verbal entertainment called “Rakugo“, which is performed by a lone storyteller. Even though you have to know about Japanese culture, language and customs deeper in order to enjoy rakugo, it’s getting popular among foreigners. There are some non-Japanese rakugo performers who we’ve interviewed from the US, Turkey, UK and Sweden. Now let us introduce you to another performer from Taiwan named Chi-Fen Wu, a.k.a. “Giran-tei Shoronpo (宜蘭亭小籠包)”. We met her for the first


If I made an unfunny joke, I could say, “I guess it’s ‘cause I’m from Sweden”. Do you know why?

Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi Mail to:   Johan Nilsson Björk (Sweden) Rakugo Performer   We have introduced to you Kimie Oshima, a Japanese “English-rakugo (落語)” performer before, but now we have another. This time from… Sweden! His name is Johan Nilsson Björk, a.k.a Borubo-tei Ikeya. “Borubo” means Volvo, the Swedish automotive company, and “Ikeya” refers to IKEA, the world-famous Swedish furniture retailer. A professional rakugo performer gave him such a great stage name. Johan discovered rakugo in Japan and decided to settle in the country after going back home once. His reason Because he fell in love


Rakugo might prevent conflicts. I’ll try to achieve peace through it.

Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi Mail to:   Kimie Oshima Professor/English-Rakugo Performer Have you heard of the word “Rakugo”? It’s a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. The lone storyteller sits on stage, using only a paper fan and a small cloth as props, and does not stand up from the sitting position. Actually My Eyes Tokyo has interviewed some foreign rakugo performers so far such as Diane Orrett from UK and Mizirakli Halit from Turkey. Also we met Johan Nilsson Björk, a rakugo performer from Sweden. They learned rakugo after coming to Japan, fell in love with the


Laughter is international.

Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi Mail to:   Diane Orrett (UK) Rakugo performer/Balloon artist (She’s been in Japan since 1990) My Eyes Tokyo flew to Osaka, the Japanese capital of comedy again! We’ve had interviews with two foreign entertainers in Osaka in early 2008. Then we found a new foreign performer there recently. Diane Orrett, a British woman who performs a Japanese traditional comic story telling called “rakugo(落語)”. She performs rakugo in both Japanese and English. Also she works as a balloon artist who makes animals, cartoon characters and so on. We talked to her over the phone before


Rakugo is a way of expressing myself which I found at last.

Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi Mail to:   Mizirakli Halit (Turkey) Rakugo performer/Graduate school student (He’s been in Japan in 2001-02, 2004-) The second interview from the Kansai region is with Mizirakli Halit, a rakugo performer from Turkey. He talks quietly and gently, like he is trying to choose the right words. When he came to Japan for the first time in 2001, he experienced rakugo. Three years later, he came to Japan again and started his activities as a rakugo performer in the Osaka area. After he started learning rakugo, he got interested in his roots. “Meddahlik“, a Turkish


One rakugo performer is holding very simple tools and create anything by themselves. That’s the magic of rakugo.

Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi Mail to:   Spence Zaorski (USA) Graduate student/Rakugo researcher (He’s been in Japan since 2006) My Eyes Tokyo went west to Osaka and Kyoto (cities in Kansai region, western Japan) then we had interviews with two foreigners. Both of them really loves one of the traditional Japanese art called “rakugo”(落語). Rakugo is a Japanese verbal entertainment. Look at a picture above. A guy wearing kimono sits on a cushion and tell comedic stories to the audience. “Raku” means “fall”, “Go” means “Words” then “rakugo” means “punchline”. (see more → Click) . Rakugo has a very long history and people