Katsura Kaishi is the premier performer of Rakugo in English. He was recently awarded the Ministry of Culture award for Cultural Exchange. He has won numerous prestigious awards for Rakugo, including the NHK Japan National Television Award for Young Artists, the Ministry of Culture Yew Artist Award, The Hanjoutei Yose Theatre Award for Explosive Laughter, and others. He is one of the most popular storytellers in Osaka, Japan. Up until now, Rakugo could only be seen in Japan. But, in order to bring this art form to the world, Kaishi has, since 1997, performed in over 12 countries including England, Australia, Canada, India, Brunei, and The Phillipines. In all he has performed abroad over 200 times! In 1999 he made his debut at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, Canada. In 2007, he presented a full “Yose” lineup Off-Broadway, a full week of sold-out shows that drew the attention and acclaim of both the Japanese and American media. He is currently touring the United States on a Ministry of Culture grant for cultural exchange.
Having been awarded the Japanese grant for cultural exchange, for the purpose of introducing Rakugo to the world, Kaishi begins his journey on April 1, 2008 in New York. From there, he will travel by car to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Los Vegas, Chicago, and other cities and towns on a grand American tour ending again in New York.
Piling just his living essentials and his Rakugo tools kimono, fan, hand towel, cushion, and unique sense of humor, Kaishi will perform Rakugo in English in more than 30 States.
And not just in theatres! Comedy clubs, schools, on top of bar counters, on the back of tractor trailers... Kaishi can turn almost anything into a platform for Japanese traditional comedy! America, prepare to laugh your heads off, Japanese style!
WE will announce a BIG NEWS today.
King of Rakugo Performer, Sanshi Katsura and other professional Rakugo performers from Japan and I will have a Big show called "NY HANJOTEI" in New York in SEPTEMBER 17th in NEW YORK.
Reservation just started. Call ASAP, and don't miss the opportunity!!
RESERVATION: 718-433-1716 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you VERY MUCH for everyone who came to my show in Otakon!!
There were such a long line waiting for my show. I was so impressed!! It seemed like everyone looking for something new to watch !!
The venue (650 capacity) was filled with large audience. Some audience even could not get into the venue because of full audience.
BIG SMILE of audience always makes me very happy !
I got a standing ovation again. AGAIN, Thanks everyone.
Performance in Washington DC
Washington D.C was the 39th performance of my tour.
The venue was a ball room which President Bush favors in the White House!!
No way….. just 5 minutes from White House by a car, "Japan information and cultural center in Embassy of Japan was the venue of the performance.
The hall was very nice which has 200 capacity.
People who lived here looked like VERY smart.
I heard that lots of people living here were participants in government, workers at embassies of each countries and researchers in Think tank and universities, and the percentage that shows how many people have doctoral degrees in all residents was highest in Washington D.C.
The audience seemed to be waiting for Opera, at first.
But, when the show stared, the atmosphere was changed.
After the show, I heard that there was few entertainment spot in Washington D.C, the political metropolitan. (They might starve for laughing.)
They laughed very hard!!!
From teenagers to the elderly!!!
Finally, there happened a standing ovation, which is 7th so far!!
During this U.S. tour, I planned to give approximately 40 performances in over 30 states. This only includes shows held at the real theaters, but doesn't count unexpected ‘guerilla performance’ that will introduce Rakugo to those who are never interested in Japanese culture, which is my first aim of this tour.
I have already performed in some unusual places, like at a bar and on a boat, where I never think to perform back in Japan.
The audience coming to a theater is usually Rakugo fan from before. They plan to go to see my performance and probably study about Rakugo in advance. Of course, those audiences are important to me. However, I have to say that they will like my performance no matter what. That’s great, but I wanted to try much more in this U.S. tour. For example, people on the street don’t even pay attention to my performance because they never heard about Rakugo. Seconds later, my performance draws their interests to the world of Rakugo. That’s my challenge, though it sounds crazy.
Today’s guerilla performance was taken place at camping area!
This time was also very tough, even though at least a little better than being on a boat like last show.
To make my stage, I have to put blankets on picnic tables and used car’s headlights as spotlights. It was so windy too…
There was no decoration but just a simple stage.
I felt like being a street performer.
Today’s audience: 20 adults, 9 children, and 5 dogs.
To make matters worse, we were supposed to have rainstorm that night. It was hard for us to concentrate on performance because winds blew all the fliers up and peeled off blankets from my picnic table stage.
In spite of our worries, nobody, not even a dog, left during my 1-hour performance. They even came closer to my stage and really paid their attentions to what I was saying.
After the show, many of them came up to my camping car. The funny thing is that every one of them wants to show off their own jokes to me. It is great that people get to know each other through “jokes” or “laugh” beyond nationalities. I love this feeling of guerrilla Rakugo!