Baylor Japanese Joins UT Students and Faculty for Katsura Sunshine Performance
Posted: May 5, 2014
Japanese Rakugo comic storyteller Katsura Sunshine performed live for the first time in Austin on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. The 90-minute performance in the Avaya Auditorium was followed by Q&A and a photo shoot session.
The fun-filled evening attracted students and faculty not only from UT but from Baylor University as well. Professor Yushiko Fujii Gaines, Lecturer in Japanese at Baylor, brought 52 students to attend the performance.
Professor Gaines commented:
Thank you so much for welcoming us to the Rakugo performance at UT.
It was such a memorable experience for our students. The setup was beautiful and the evening was well-planned. We are so grateful for the opportunity to see Rakugo and for the opportunity to meet the faculty and students in your Japanese program. We hope we can work together to enrich our students' learning experience more in the future.
In addition, UT's Japanese program held a contest for "Best Caricature of Katsura Sunshine." Sunshine picked the winning caricature made by Eunice Smith, a senior studying Studio Art and Asian Cultures and Languages. Her caricature was used for promotional posters.
Rakugo (literally "falling words") is a 400-year-old tradition of comic storytelling in Japan. A minimalistic performance art, Rakugo features a lone storyteller dressed in kimono, kneeling on a cushion, who, using only a fan and a hand towel for props, entertains the audience with a comic monologue followed by a traditional story. The storyteller differentiates characters in conversation by moving his head from left to right, as well as with subtle changes in tempo, posture, intonation, etc. Rakugo is an ancient art form, but it is still very much alive and well, with over 700 professional storytellers practicing today in the two main traditions of storytelling, that of Tokyo (Edo) and that of Osaka (Kamigata).
Sunshine served a strict apprenticeship under well-known Rakugo Master Katsura Bunshi VI in Osaka, Japan for three years. He is the first ever and the only Western Rakugo storyteller in the history of the “Kamigata” Rakugo tradition at the present time.
Sunshine has performed in Singapore, the United States and Canada, as well as throughout Japan. He currently resides in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, Japan. In July, 2012, he opened his own Rakugo Theatre in his home in Ise, called the Ise Kawasaki Kikitei, where he regularly performs Rakugo stories.
Sunshine currently appears regularly on three television programs in Japan, and has been the subject of several short documentaries made for television news.
Click here for Sunshine's other performances.