Rakugo, traditional Japanese comic storytelling, became a powerful force in popular culture during the Edo period and is currently enjoying a renewed boom in popularity in Japan. This ancient form of "stand-up" comedy is actually performed sitting down, presenting a solo performer on a small cushion who acts out hilarious anecdotes, slipping in and out of the role of the narrator and other characters with a mimetic gestural language and a handful of props such as a fan and a tenugui (hand towel). With shamisen (Japanese three-string lute) accompaniment, this program features four routines celebrating the four seasons, and includes traditional kamikiri, the trick of cutting folded paper into a variety of surprising design. Notable members of the Rakugo Geijutsu Kyokai (Rakugo Arts Association) star in the evening's performance, including highly celebrated TV regular and rakugo legend Katsura Utamaru, described as the "Johnny Carson of Japan".
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