Rocking the Rakugo

Rakugo Flyer

” I hope he has new jokes,” quipped a colleague upon learning that master Rakugo performer Katsura Kaishi will be returning to Manila for a one-night-only show.

Mr. Kaishi has been to Manila 3 times in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and true enough, he has repeated (and repeated) his “This is a pen” joke everytime. In fairness, the joke doesn’t seem that dated or stale. In fact, it got a lot of laughs all those times. It does help to explain too that in rakugo, the jokes are meant to be repeated. In fact, some of the jokes may be older than Mr. Kaishi — about 400 years old. (To be fair again, Mr. Katsura does add new material into his act, aside from the tried rakugo spiels.)

The genius is in the delivery. 

And the Japanese are world-known to be sticklers for delivery — be they schedules or cues. What is highlighted most especially in the rakugo is the Japanese sense of humor.

In our September newsletter, an article on the rakugo downplays Japanese humor. Which explains one thing: that the writer is Japanese.

The Japanese are a funny people. They might look meek and mild but wait till they loosen up! Even explaining the rakugo is amusing: rakugo is Japanese traditional stand-up comedy, sitting down.

Mr. Katsura’s performance will be welcomed by Filipino audiences. If there is something Filipinos like, nay– love to do, it’s to laugh. About things, situations, other people, themselves. Filipinos are more likely to be asked, “Why are you laughing” and “What are you laughing at?” during times of great stress and trouble — for example during the past coup d’etats. It’s become like a security blanket for some, a lifeline for most.

Katsura Kaishi

Katsura Kaishi

Connecting with Japanese culture through laughter is surely helpful in debunking cultural myths like “the Japanese are very serious and strict people,” (some Filipinos are more so, imho) and bridges whatever cultural gaps.

Back to the concern of my colleague. With Mr. Katsura’s over 180 rakugo performances worldwide and his being named Cultural Exchange Ambassador of Japan is guarantee for a colorful, lively, hilarious and insightful performance.

Mr. Katsura is sure to rock the rakugo.


English Rakugo: Japanese Sit-Down Comedy in English with Katsura Kaishi will be held on September 25, Friday, 7PM at the Ayala Museum.  On September 26, Mr. Katsura will perform the rakugo at the Ayala Center, Cebu. Organized by the Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM), Ayala Museum, the Japanese Consulate in Cebu, Japanese Association in Cebu, JCCICI, and the Ayala Center. is the official online media partner.


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