have your say

What do you think of rakugo storytelling? Can it be successfully translated into English, for example, and be funny?


©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams both did a pretty good job of rakugo-esque storytelling. Especially WInters with his very small facial expressions that conveyed a huge range of emotions or unspoken lines. Bill Cosby in his younger days, too.

Of course, if by “translating rakugo into English” you mean the exact same stories and gestures, then probably no.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Can't be translated. Jokes don't translate well.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'll stick to Ronnie Corbett

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A ridiculous proposition!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most Japanese humor isn't funny to non-Japanese aged over ten (unless you like over-repeated slapstick).

Rakugo is no different.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yes, some Rakugo stories can be successfully translated into English. One such example is Rakugo by Katsura Sunshine, a Canadian Rakugo performer who went through the traditional apprenticeship in Japan.

Also, one of the best known stories "Shinigami" (The God of Death), was adapted from a fairy tale by Grimm Brothers. The reverse of this should work as well.

Having said that, it's a matter of personal preference whether one finds it funny or not just like any other form of comedy.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Talk about not knowing what Rakugo is.

Rakugo is no slapstick for one.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Hiroshi, yes I've seen Katsura Sunshine on TV many time and really like his style.

The classic rakugo stories that transcend most cultures are ones like the old man fishing in the puddle.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Despite the obvious obstacle of cultural contextualisation of stories, puns and jokes, rakugo is transferable to English. FOr instance, English is full of onomatopoeia as is Japanese, except the words have morphed to have fully loaded grammatical forms.

Rakugo more significantly is defined by its delivery, with uchiwa- fan and sitting せいざ on a ざむとん( sitting-kneeling on a flat cushion on an elevated floor or stage most likely).

I got sucked into a Japanese cultural appreciation event in Kyoto where I was voluntered to do rakugo. I resented it and a sarcastic non-cooperative streak came out, in which I had to talk to my imaginary friend. So, I related to the audience that my imaginary friend did not want to be drawn int rakugo, at which point I smacked my imaginary friend around the head with the uchiwa. People laughed a lot though it was more like manzai with my imaginary friend with the rakugo lady sitting sidelined seeming pissed because she could not smack me around the head with her uchiwa.

Got a laugh. It worked. But not same as the people on that program every Sunday afternoon in kimono having rakugo competitions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A couple of posts, including that last one, have made me question what the question actually means. Is the question whether rakugo stories are translated into English from Japanese, or whether the art is something that could work if done in English?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Rakugo is an art of one person acting and talking to other persona utilizing only two personal items that he usually use in his daily life, tenugui/handkerchief and sensu/folding fan.

With this it depends on how good the performer is able to draw in the audience with his sense in creating the story as well as his performance in acting the various personas.

Having said that Edie Murphy during his Saturday Night Lives eras is close to Rakugo type performance.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites