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Dawn Islamabad, Fri. November 24, 2006
"Japanese comedians tickle audience pink"
Islamabad, Nov 23: Demonstrating their country's traditional form of story-telling, Rakugo, three Japanese comedians gave a wonderful performance at the Islamabad Club auditorium on
Thursday, receiving much appreciation from the delighted audience. Welcoming Culture Minister Dr G.G. Jamal, who was the chief guest on the occasion, Japanese Ambassador Seiji Kojima said this form of Japanese entertainment though full of monologues, also had room for audio-visual effects, and usually ended with a cunning narrative stunt called Ochi
(loose translation - fall). The ambassador said the comedy had its birth in the mediaeval periods and the actors were
patronised by feudal lords. Later, the samurai took it over to perform before elite audiences. The art form also received inspiration from Buddhism, particularly in 16th and 17th centuries.
The 90 minutes performance by the Rakugo comedian trio - Dr Kimie Oshima, Shofukutei Kakushow,
and Katsura Asakichi - reflected different aspects of Japanese society and culture. It was rendered in English for the convenience of Pakistani audiences.
At the end, Dr Kimie Oshima, wearing a beautiful green Japanese kimono, said they had 500 master teachers who had inherited this traditional form of art from their forefathers. Students seeking training in Rakugo must apprentice themselves to the master for two or three years. It is a hard life for these students who have to learn and carry out chores of their master's house round the clock.
She pointed out that the art was not easy to present on stage. "Only conversations between characters appear in the story, and the performer is called upon to play the role of each
distinct character. And there may be an endless variety of them. The actors had to change their voice many times during the performance."
She observed that the group had come for the first time to Pakistan, but they had performed in 20 other countries including the UK, the US, Norway, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Dr Oshima was also pleased by the appreciation received by the group first at karachi and now in Islamabad.


朝日新聞2006年12月28日 特派員メモ・イスラマバード

The Frontier Post, Fri. November 24, 2006
Islamabad: Kimie Oshima addresses a press conference regarding Rakugo Jaoanese Sit Down Comedy
here on Thursday.

The Nation Friday, November 24, 2006
"Japanese Comedians perform in Capital"
A group of visiting Japanese comedians performed a traditional form of entertainment Japanese comedy named "Rakugo Comedy (sit-down comedy) here on Thursday.
The embassy of Japan in Pakistan,the Japan foundation, Pakistan Japan cultural association in collaboration of PNCA is organising this Japanese Traditional Rakugo (sit-down comedy).
The press preview held at Islamabad Club, where Japanese artist talked to the media and gives the details about their first ever performance in Islamabad. Three Japanese artists Ms Kimie Oshima, Shofukutei Kakushow and Katsura Asakichi were also present at the press preview.
The performer usually equipped with a fan (Sensu) and hand towel (Tenugui). There help the performer express and act out the story.
While speaking on the occasion, Ms Kimie Oshima said, "We tried change the common image of Japanese that they don't have comic sense, we want to show that we are as well funny and talk in humorous way."
She said that the Rakugo stories are mostly of 15-20 minutes. Each artist in Rakugo has one or two stories to tell. She said we are already performed in 20 differen countries of Asia and western countries, but first time in Pakistan. According to her they performed in Karachi and get very good response especially from the children.
In Rakugo only the conversations between characters appears in the story. Therefore, the performer must be able to play the role of each character by changing voice, facial expression, mannerisms, speech, etc. In most of cases the character has strong stereotypical personalities and characteristics so that as the performer switches from one character toanother, the audience readily detects the change.
The Rakugo stories are usually centered on the tales told among common people or lectures told by local priests. The stories reflect traditional concepts and values, which nevertheless remain meaningful and entertaining today.
Rakugo can be best described as Japanese sit-down comedy of comic story telling. Just as there is stand-up comedy in the western countries, there is sit-down comedy in Japan. The performers wear traditional formal Japanese cloths (kimono).
The artists will perform on 23rd and 24th November at Islamabad Club Auditorium at 6:30pm.





The News International, Friday, November 24, 2006
"Japanese Comedians Present Side-splitting Slapstick Show"
Clad in traditional "kimono", equipped with a fan, a wooden stick, and a piece of cloth, the Japanese Rakugo Comedians presented a side-splitting sit-in slapstick comedy show opening at Islamabad Club Auditorium Thursday.
Hilarious monologues and narrative stunt actions acted out by Kimie Oshima, Shofukutei Kakushow, and Katsura Asakichi brought out spate of laughter among the audience.
The Rakugo comedians acted out simple common stories in the form of dialogues between different characters in English, one performer acting out a number of characters by changing voice, facial expressions, mannerism, and actions while sitting on a cusion.

The superb acting skill of the performers helped the audience readily detect the changing characters of the story. One can relate the Rakugo comedians to the 'Court Jesters' and the local 'Bhands', and 'Darbari' comedians who used to bring comic relief to the kings, lords, and rulers. Such characters still exist in the rural landscape of Pakistan and are invited to entertain during weddings and festive occasions.
Organised by Embassy of Japan, The Japan Foundation, and Pakistan Japan Cultural Association in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts, the Rakugo comedy show reflected the traditional concepts of Japanese values and norms that remain meaningful as well as entertaining
even today.
Speaking to the media, Kimie Oshima, a PhD in Socio-linguistics from Tokyo and also the Associate Professor at Bunkyo University, said that there are about 500 professional Rakugo performers in Japan today. Oshima said that those who want to learn the skill of Rakugo must get training from a
Master Rakugo as there is no proper institution for this form of comedy. She said that in ancient times it used to be performed on streets but now it is acted out on stage. She said that Rakugo reflects Japanese sense of humour and remove the misconception that Japanese people lacks sense of humour.
She said that the Rakugo comedians' team has perfromed over 20 countries in Europe, and Asia, and also United States, receiving great response from the people. This is their first visit to Pakistan and they already had a successful performance in Karachi.

←イスラマバードでの公演会場近くに貼られた "Rakugo in English Performance"の横断幕。本当は撮影禁止と言われたけど、こっそり撮った。だいたい、パキスタンでは撮影禁止のものが多すぎる!

21st November 2006
7:00 pm
Arts Council of Pakistan
M.R. Kayani Road, Karachi.

Now comes to Pakistan!
"I never realized the Japanese could be so funny."
(Cora Llamas drama critic of The Philippines Daily Inquirer)

"What a delightfully crazy evening this was. And what a pity that, the strange art of Eigo-Rakugo could be seen on only one night."
(The Canberra Times)


Rakugo in English
Islamabad Club Audiorium
Japanese Traditional Rakugo Comedy Theatre
Thursday, 23rd and 24th November 2006
at 6:30 pm
The Auditorium of Islamabad Club

The Second City


Copyright 2002 Kimie Oshima