December 15, 2012

Rakugo - the japanese art of story telling

Yesterday I visited a Rakugo (落語) performance. It was really interesting & so funny that I couldn't stop laughing. I really advise everyone who loves funny stories & fairy tales to visit a Rakugo performance.

Rakugoka Kenko
Rakugo is an ancient japanese art of story telling. A lone story teller called Rakugoka (落語家) sits in front of the audience on a pillow & uses only a paper fan & a small cloth as props for his performance. But the Rakugoka doesn't just narrate the story. He also plays different characters like women, men, elderly & children. To tell those characters apart the story teller depicts them by change in tone, manner & a slight turn of the head. As there can be many characters, not only two of them, the audience has to use their imaginativeness to follow the storiy line. 

The Rakugoka always depicts his story alive, very funny & full of emotion. I really enjoyed the Rakugoka's performance.

Yesterday he told a tradtitional Rakugo story about a man & his dream. (夢の話 [yumenohanashi] - the tale of a dream).

While the man was asleep his wife watched him. She noticed that he was dreaming. Because she was so curious about his dream she woke him up & demanded him to tell his dream to her. But he said that he hadn't dreamed anything. A quarrel arose & the landlord came to settle the dispute. After the landlord had sent the man's wife to his wife, he demanded the man to tell him his dream. But the man also told the landlord that he hadn't dreamed anything. The landlord was furious & wanted the man to move out. The man went to court & won the court case. After the judge had sent the landlord away he asked the man about the wonderful dream he must have had, but noone wanted to tell. But the man still averred that he didn't had any dream at all. The judge was very angry & put the man to the torture.
Tengu (right)
During the torture the man wailed about his misfortune for he didn't do anything wrong except of having had no dream at all. Suddenly a gust freed him from the torture & carried him on the top of a mountain. There he encountered a mythical creature called Tengu (天狗). The Tengu assured to the man that he had no interest in his dream, but would listen if the man wanted to tell what his dream was about. But the man still averred that he hadn't dreamed anything at all. The Tengu fumed & killed the man who kept saying not to have had any dream at all. Suddenly the man awoke. He was wakened by his wife. She demanded him to tell his dream to her.

It was a wonderful & very funny story for the Rakugoka depicted every character in an overacted & very own way. Nowadays in Japan there are about 800 Rakugo masters, whose performances can be seen in Osaka & Tokyo. Because Rakugo master Kenko is at this time on a tour trough Germany, I didn't had to travel to Japan to see one of those performances. But if I'll ever travel to Japan I really want to see a Rakugo performance again.

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