First Performance 初舞台

I made the 6 a.m. shinkansen and was in Tokyo just after 8:30. I had some time before I had to be at the University of Tokyo (Tôdai), so I grabbed coffee at Starbucks and reviewed my material for the talk and performance.

I had to be at Tôdai at 10:30a.m. On my way I took this picture (sorry, not a great one) of Akamon (Red Gate), a well-known Tôdai landmark.

Before my appearance I was invited to listen to the last several speeches in Japanese by international students in the Engineering Department. I was thoroughly impressed with their (remarkable) abilities in Japanese. Speeches were both educational and entertaining. Really, it was tough to follow such talented presenters.

I have spoken on rakugo in academic settings before, but this was my first time to perform rakugo in front of a group expecting to be made to laugh… Fortunately everybody in the audience–both students and teachers–were wonderfully supportive, laughing at all the points I was hoping they would. I learned much from this performance… for example, how it feels to be a hanashika. It is not easy, but, if you put in the work to give a successful performance, the rewards are plentiful: people say how much they enjoyed the show, they want to take commemorative photos, and, if they’re new to rakugo, they want more information about it.

Of course, when the show was over I only wanted to get back on stage to do the story again. While many things went well, I was also immediately aware of a number of areas I needed to improve on. I hope a have a chance to improve on stage in the near future.

The faculty and staff at Tôdai were most gracious hosts. They prepared a perfect stage and space for the show, and, though they were busy with the day’s activities (End-of-course Ceremony and Banquet), they went to much trouble to make sure I was comfortable. I would like to give special thanks to Furuichi-sensei and Song-sensei, for inviting me and organizing the talk/ performance.

I would also like to give special thanks to Somemaru shishô, for teaching me Sake no kasu, and Aisome, for lending me his kimono.

There were a number of people who took pictures during the show. I will post some of them here. This was a wonderful first experience, which I will always remember.










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