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Japanese Language and Culture through Rakugo

Students get to know about rakugo by answering a rakugo quiz and watching a YouTube video of Katsura Sunshine, a foreign-born professional rakugo storyteller. Senior students can also create their own rakugo story, and gain inspiration for their language learning by listening to Katsura Sunshine talking about his language learning experiences in Japanese.

What is Rakugo?

Rakugo is a 400 year old tradition of comic monologue storytelling in Japan. A minimalistic performing art, rakugo features a lone storyteller dressed in a kimono(きもの)、kneeling on a cushion(ざぶとん)、using only a fan(せんす)、and a hand towel(てぬぐい)as props.There are currently over 700 professional storytellers(落語家)practicing. Today there are two main traditions of rakugo. Rakugo from Tokyo is called Edo Rakugo, while rakugo from Osaka is called Kamigata Rakugo. In order to become a professional rakugoka, one must be apprenticed to a master, from whom one receives a stage name.

For more information, check out these websites!

Katsura Sunshine Official Website
Katsura Sunshine explains Rakugo

Rakugo Quiz

Rakugo Quiz (Word 851KB)
Rakugo Quiz (PDF 404KB)
Rakugo Quiz Answers (PDF 401KB)

Have a look at Rakugo in English!

Jugemu by Katsura Sunshine

Watch the clip above, and answer the following questions.

  1. How many people appear in the story?
  2. What was the punch line at the end of the story?
  3. What devices does Sunshine use to create his characters?
  4. Do you know of any storytelling styles like rakugo in Australia?
  5. What are the similarities and differences between rakugo and Australian storytelling?
Jugemu Quiz (Word 297KB)
Jugemu Quiz (PDF 121KB)
Jugemu Quiz Answers (PDF 162KB)

Rakugo Challenge: JUGEMU

Rakugo Challenge (Word 807KB)
Rakugo Challenge (PDF 309KB)

Step 1: Practice reading by yourself.
Step 2: Work in pairs to see who can say it the fastest!
Step 3: Write your own story using the concept of an extremely long name that keeps getting in the way of what you are trying to do. Perform your story in front of your class!

Listen to Katsura Sunshine talking about his language learning experiences! (For Senior Students)

桂三輝 Katsura Sunshine

A classics student from Canada in a former life, Katsura Sunshine began his three-year apprenticeship in Japan in 2008 under the rakugo master Katsura Bunshi IV. Since making his professional rakukgo debut in 2009, he has performed widely both in Japan and overseas. Katsura Sunshine completed his apprenticeship in 2011, and now lives in Tokyo.

Katsura Sunshine Interview


Watch the video interview to learn about Katsura Sunshine’s language learning experiences.

  1. いつから 日本語の べんきょうを はじめましたか。☆
  2. どうやって 日本語を おぼえましたか。☆☆
  3. どうやって らくごを マスターしましたか。☆☆
  4. 日本語の かんたんなところ、むずかしいところを おしえてください。☆☆☆
Interview Task (Word 156KB)
Interview Task (PDF 260KB)
Interview Task Answers (PDF 162KB)
Interview Script (PDF 138KB)

Resource created by Haruka Ochi (January 2016).

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