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“Rakugo: Serious Performing Art, Amusing Research Specialty” and subsequent online lecture with Dr. M. W.  Shores

The Global Japanese Studies Model Unit is proud to announce the following two Rakugo focused online events, held together with Dr. M. W. Shores (The University of Sydney).  Both events will be held in English, and allow for both English and Japanese for each Q&A session. Event details are listed below.

Event Details

Online Rakugo Performance, Workshop, and Lecture:
Rakugo: Serious Performing Art, Amusing Research Specialty

  • Date and time: January 11, 2022, 13:00 – 16:00 (JST)
  • Schedule
    13:00-14:00 Rakugo Performance
    14:00-14:30 Workshop
    14:30-14:45    Break
    14:45-16:00 Lecture and Q&A
  • Language: English (Q&A session: English and Japanese)
  • Lecturer: Dr. M. W. Shores (The University of Sydney)
  • Venue: Zoom
  • Participation is free and open to the public
  • Zoom link:
Nedoimono, the Playful yet Practical Rakugo Genre

There seems to be an endless supply of idiots in rakugo. Japan’s traditional comic storytelling can be shamelessly silly, but if it was just this, how would it have survived among the countless new entertainments and technologies of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? The bottom line is that rakugo offers more than laughs. Key, perhaps, is that it bestows useful knowledge. Thanks to the way storytellers present rakugo, it also imbues one with a sense of gratification and pride. One genre particularly good for this is nedoimono, or inquiry pieces. This talk examines nedoimono and its early modern iterations, showing that stupid questions, frustrated answers, and the parading of flawed knowledge have long been a reliable recipe for artistic success and perpetuation as well as audience satisfaction and edification.

Online Lecture: The Comic Storytelling of Western Japan—that ‘other’ rakugo

  • Date and time: January 20, 2022, 13:00 – 14:30 (JST)
  • Language: English (Q&A session: English and Japanese)
  • Lecturer: Dr. M. W. Shores (The University of Sydney)
  • Venue: Zoom
  • Participation is free and open to the public
  • Zoom link:
The Comic Storytelling of Western Japan

Rakugo, a popular form of comic storytelling, has played a major role in Japanese culture and society. Developed during the Edo (1600–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods, it is still popular today, with many contemporary Japanese comedians having originally trained as rakugo artists. Rakugo is divided into two distinct strands, the Tokyo tradition and the Osaka tradition, with the latter having previously been largely overlooked. This pioneering study of the Kamigata (Osaka) rakugo tradition presents the first complete English translation of five classic rakugo stories, and offers a history of comic storytelling in Kamigata (modern Kansai, Kinki) from the seventeenth century to the present day. Considering the art in terms of gender, literature, performance, and society, this volume grounds Kamigata rakugo in its distinct cultural context and sheds light on the ‘other’ rakugo for students and scholars of Japanese culture and history.

About Dr. M. W. Shores:

Shores is a scholar of Japanese literary arts and entertainment, with a focus on rakugo and its early-modern precursors, literary and otherwise. He began his career at Cambridge and has been Lecturer of Japanese at The University of Sydney since 2019. Shores has spent over a decade in Japan for research and training with Kamigata Rakugo masters. Cambridge University Press recently published his monograph The Comic Storytelling of Western Japan: Satire and Social Mobility in Kamigata Rakugo.

Contact: Shiho Takai ([email protected])




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