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!
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!!