This Weekend’s Challenge 今週末のチャレンジ

slide_004The WORLD BEAT FESTIVAL, Oregon’s largest multi-cultural festival, will take place this weekend in Salem. Some 30,000 attendees are expected to turn out, and I am thrilled to be on the long list of performers.

Since last year I have been fortunate to have numerous opportunities to perform rakugo in English around Oregon. This Saturday, I will have a new challenge: performing three stories in a single day. I will have two 45-minute sets and a 30-minute set, on three different stages.

For professional hanashika, three stories in a day may not be such a big deal, but for an amateur like myself it will be quite the challenge. Still, I feel lucky and grateful to have such an opportunity to share rakugo with so many people.

Since I perform outside of Japan, and typically for the purpose of education, my makura always have to have substantial “Intro to Rakugo” bits. No matter how basic intros may be, they are always enjoyable. I’ve learned good ways to do these by listening to others who perform English rakugo in and out of Japan, and I’ve come up with some of my own material.

World Beat Japan focus performersWORLD BEAT FESTIVAL will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday June 29, and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday June 30, in Salem’s Riverfront Park.

My performances will all be on Saturday: 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. on the Asia-Pacific stage; 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on the Showcase stage; and 6:00 to 6:45 p.m. on the Cultural Center stage.

Admission is free, though a $5 donation per person will be suggested at the gate. For more information visit or call 503-581-2004.

I hope to see you there!

World Beat Festival 2013オレゴン州の最大多文化祭りである「ワールド・ビート・フェスティバル」は今週末、オレゴン州の州都セーレム市で行われます。参加者は3万人ほど予想されていますが、多くの出演者の中で僕も演らせていただくので、とても楽しみにしています。





僕の高座は全席土曜日に演らせていただきます。時間は、アジアパシフィックの舞台で12時半〜13時、ショーケースの舞台で16時半〜17:15、カルチャーセンターの舞台で18時〜18:45分 です。

入場は無料ですが、寄付金の推奨額は一人5ドルです。詳しくは 、または503-581-2004にお電話くださいませ。


Luring In Audiences 呼び込み

I am not a professional rakugo storyteller.

However, when I have opportunities to perform, I get an idea what professionals must have to go through from time to time — particularly those younger hanashika still working to build a fan base.

On Saturday, I went to the theater where I was to perform rakugo. It was my first time performing at this particular venue. I found my dressing room without too much trouble, changed into my kimono, and proceeded to the backstage area five minutes before going on.

Two very friendly stagehands put out my zabuton, kendai, and hizakakushi. As the time to enter time drew near, I noticed there was almost no sound coming from the audience. Perhaps two people conversing quietly…

“Have they opened the doors yet?” I asked the stagehands.

“Um, I’m not sure. It doesn’t sound like it…” one replied. “Do you happen to know where the emcee is?” he continued, asking me.

WHAT! Do I know where the emcee is?! How would I know where the emcee is? I started to get a touch worried.

“Well, I do have a tuxedo-like jacket,” the other stagehand kindly offered, “I suppose I could introduce you.”

Yet, there was almost nobody in the audience. This reminded me of a story that a pro hanashika once told me about having to do rakugo for just one person. “At least I have two,” I tried to comfort myself.

Fortunately, I had the cell phone number of the woman who invited me to perform. I called her.

“Hello, this is Matt.” I said very calmly.

“Hello, Matt? Are you there now?” she asked.

“Yes, it looks like we are running 15 minutes behind.” I told her as casually as possible. “You wouldn’t happen to know where the emcee is, would you? He’s missing.” I continued.

“Oh he’s here with me,” she said almost as casually. “I’ll send him over.”

A very good idea.

I figured it would take the emcee at least five minutes to arrive and get situated. I recalled that there were about 100 people outside on my way into the theater. I decided to run out to invite them in to listen to rakugo.

Good afternoon, everyone! What a beautiful day it is today!” I projected as best I could across the large square. “And what a beautiful day to share a few laughs! Won’t you come inside to hear me perform rakugo, Japanese comic storytelling? The show will start momentarily, and it will be in English!”

I approached every group and individual that I could find, then ran back into the theater. Almost as soon as I returned backstage my entrance music (Ishidan) began playing.

I entered, kneeled on the zabuton, and bowed. I clacked the kobyôshi on the kendai to get started and was thrilled to see 15 people already in the audience. As I progressed through my makura intro, more people made their way in, bringing the total to 50 or so.

I was so grateful that they came!

The story (“Morning Toiletries” Chôzu mawashi) went well. I had so much fun with this wonderful audience that my 45-minute set was over in the blink of an eye.

On this day I had to go outside of the venue to work for my audience. I beckoned people to come in and see me perform. This was a first for me.

It soon dawned on me that this is what many hanashika–especially young ones–have to do on a regular basis.

I learned from this that winning an audience is not easy, even if the show is free. This must especially be the case for professionals, who not only ask for time but also the cost of a ticket. This is how hanashika make their living. Hanashika therefore have to stay hungry, humble, train hard to be more interesting than rival entertainers, and foster relationships in and outside the yose.

I am glad that I was able to experience having to work for my audience on Saturday. I gained further respect for hanashika who wake up every day to devise new ways to win new fans and keep them coming back for more.







え~?!なぜ僕が…? 司会がどこに行ったかなんて分かりませんよ~。分かるわけないでしょ~。徐々に心配になってきました。

そしてもう一人の舞台係が「いやぁ、私、タキシードのようなジャケットがあって、あれでしたら、私が司会役をできないこともないですが… 」と言いました。優しい方ですけどね。





「はい、舞台の方は15分ほど遅れているそうですが…」とできるだけ平静を保って言ってみました。そして、「あの… 司会の方は、どちらにいらっしゃるかお分かりでしょうか。こちらにはいらっしゃらないんですが… 」




「皆様、こんにちは!本日は本当に気持ちのいいお天気ですね~!」できるだけ大きな声で繰り返しました。「こんな素敵な日に一緒に笑えたら最高ですね!これから、僕のラクゴ (ジャパニーズ スタイル ストーリーテリング)を聴いてくださいませんか~。英語で演りますが、間もなく始まりま~す。ぜひ、中の方へどうぞ~!」









This Weekend: “Skosh Japanese” 今週末:「少しジャパニーズ」

SkoshPosterI was kindly invited to perform rakugo this weekend at “Skosh (a little) Japanese,” a children’s festival and culture fair being hosted by the Mt. Hood Community College Japanese Club & Ebetsu Gresham Sister City Association.

I am honored to be a part of this special celebration, and to share the stage with big-name artists such as Portland Taiko, koto virtuoso Mizuki Dazai, and best-selling author Kristina McMorris. There will also be children’s activities, tea ceremony, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arrangement), bonsai, and haiku booths.

I will have the stage from 12:00 to 12:45pm. I have yet to decide which story to perform. I think I should do something interesting for all ages including children, so maybe a story like “The Zoo” (Dôbutsuen), or “Morning Toiletries” (Chôzu mawashi). These would be good because they are quite physical stories, and easy to follow. I have heard them told numerous times, but have never performed them in public myself. I better decide and get practicing!

“Skosh Japanese” will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Mt. Hood Community College – Gresham Campus. I hope to see you there!

"The Outlook" article by Rob Cullivan今週末、マウント・フッド・コミュニティカレッジの日本クラブと江別・グレシャム姉妹都市協会が「少しジャパニーズ」という子ども祭りと文化フェアを主催しますが、僕が落語を紹介するために親切な招待をいただきました。


12時〜12時45分の間に落語を演らせていただきますが、根多はまだ決めていません…  子どもを含むすべての年齢が楽しめるような落語がいいのですが、「動物園」、または「手水廻し」のような噺がいいかもしれません。仕草も多いし、分かりやすい根多です。この噺は何度も聴いていますが、僕はまだ人の前では演ったことはない… 早う決めてお稽古せんな。


Rakugo Intro, “Niuriya” in English 落語紹介・煮売屋 (英語)

I am a bit nervous to share this, but a video of my rakugo show last month has been posted on You Tube. I made some major mistakes in the story, but was able to learn a lot from these. Please feel free to take a look. There is also a commentary at the end.

You Tube link - Matt Shores rakugo PCC 2013

とても恥ずかしいのですが、2月の (英語) 落語会の動画をYou Tubeに載せていただきました。大きいなミスはいくつかありましたが、それでまた、大変勉強になりました。よろしければ、ご覧くださいませ。最後に解説もあります。