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Fallen Words

Fallen words is the literal English translation of the Japanese term rakugo (落語). Before there was film, television, sitcoms, and standup comedy, there was rakugo-entertainment created specifically for common people. What is rakugo? Noriko Watanabe, an assistant professor at Baruch College, once described rakugo as "a sitcom with one person playing all the parts."


Rakugo is the popular 400-year-old art of Japanese storytelling. It consists of a repertoire of more than 500 classical stories that have been passed down from master to disciple over the centuries. In addition to the classical rakugo stories, there is a substantial collection of new and original rakugo stories being written and performed by contemporary rakugoka (storytellers) on a continuing basis.


As the author/ editor of three rakugo books introducing English-speaking audiences to Japan's delightful storytelling tradition, I thought it would be fun to compile and release a collection of my own original English rakugo stories. I hope these stories will enlighten and entertain you.

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Talking About Rakugo 2

Rakugo, with its stories rooted in everyday life, is currently experiencing a boom in popularity not just in the country where it originated, but also in places where until just recently the word rakugo was an unfamiliar term. The art form, which was once confined to the traditional yose theaters, has expanded to a variety of media, including radio, television, internet, CDs, DVDs, film, drama, manga, and anime.


It owes its success to its practitioners, the RAKUGOKA. The contemporary storytellers, who shifting away from the norms and rules guiding them in their treatment of the narratives, have diversified and developed personas based on their individual lifestyles and personalities. Each one brings his or her own experiences, eccentricities, and authenticity to the unique world of rakugo. Sometimes the stories behind the storytellers entice the public as much as the ones they tell on stage.


You were introduced to the traditional Japanese art of storytelling in Talking About Rakugo, now venture into the private world of the storytellers in Talking About Rakugo 2: The Stories Behind the Storytellers.

Book no.1
Book no.2
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