Rakugo: The Popular Narrative Art of Japan

Heinz Morioko; Miyoko Sasaki

Harvard East Asian Monographs, 138.; After the disruption of World War II and the immediate postwar period, Japan has seen a renaissance of rakugo storytelling

There are now about 260 performers (hanashika) in Tokyo and 130 in Osaka-Kyoto. Morioka and Sasaki provide a complete picture of this humorous genre, including translations of representative stories in which a single performer brings to life, through conventional gestures and characteristic speech, the interactions of various Japanese types. This work traces the origins of rakugo back to Buddhist tales of the 8th and 9th centuries and describes changes through the years that eventuated in a refined art of stage performance in the mid-19th century. The rakugo theater (yose), its stage and theatrical properties, the training of hanashika, profiles of some eminent professionals, and the motifs that inform the repertoire of rakugo stories are all described in detail and made vivid through copious illustrations. Appended to the text are lists of the main hanashika houses, the rakugo text collections published since mid-Meiji, the titles of individual rakugo pieces, and an exhaustive annotated bibliography.

Published by Council on East Asian Studies Coolidge Hall, Harvard University, 1990 | Hardcover

  • Language: English
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 0674747259
  • 23.5 x 16 cm
  • 470 pages
  • Book Condition: Used book with minor signs of wear. Interior as new.
  • £65,00 (+ shipping)
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