Tokyobling's Blog

Mobile Rakugo – Kairakutei Burabo

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 3, 2014

At the Shinagawa Shukuba Festival a couple of months ago I saw a mobile rakugo performance, right in the middle of the shopping street. Rakugo is an old Japanese tradition of professional storytellers that amuse their fans by telling humorous stories while seated on a pillow in the traditional Japanese seize position (try it for a few minutes and then imagine that these guys do it professionally for hours at a time). These days rakugo is getting rarer and rarer so if people won’t come to the rakugo performances you will simply have to bring the rakugo perfumers to the people, hence this mobile storytelling platform being wheeled out into the street!

Rakugo is fun to watch not least for the audience participation. There is a tradition that when a rakugo storyteller is particularly good audience or other rakugo performers will yield their seating cushions to the champion and he will thus sit more comfortably and higher. The opposite is also true, if the artist tells are very bad joke or a groan inducing pun his pillow or pillows can be removed. This kind of comedic competition makes for surprisingly good television as well. Sometime Japanese you might here Japanese people telling each other that they deserve another pillow for telling a good joke or you might see someone at a party mimicking the pulling of a pillow from underneath someone who just made a bad pun – this is the tradition they allude to.

This performer, knows as Kairakutei Burabo (快楽亭ブラ坊) is a disciple of the famous rakugo artist Kairakutei Burakku who is a half American rakugo artist well known for his “not always safe for broadcasting” style of humor.

Rakugo is probably not very interesting if you are not very proficient in Japanaese, but it is still fun to watch and enjoy the laughter of the audience.





2 Responses

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  1. Junko said, on November 3, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    That’s a novel idea. Were there people listening to him? A few in the photos seem to pay no mind.


    • tokyobling said, on November 25, 2014 at 12:56 am

      There were lots of people listening to him, but he was in the middle of the street and people trying to pass were probably just as busy keeping their heads down! (^-^)


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