On Saturday, April 12th and Sunday, April 13th, The Consulate-General of Japan in Houston sponsored two Rakugo performances by the Canadian-born professional Rakugo storyteller, Katsura Sunshine （桂三輝）during Houston’s 21st Annual Japan Festival in Hermann Park. Katsura Sunshine performed at the main stage for audience of more than 150 on both days, sharing humorous stories in English highlighting differences between Japanese and North American Culture and pointing out interesting facts and misunderstandings that arise when studying Japanese language.
Chiho Kitagawa accompanied Katsura Sunshine to the U.S. to act as M.C. and provide background on the traditional Japanese art form and Sunshine’s performance. Rakugo, literally meaning falling words, is a 400-year-old ancient art form performed by a lone actor dressed in kimono, kneeling on a cushion and aided only by the use of two props: a fan and a small hand towel.
Canadian born Katsura Sunshine is the only foreign born storyteller among nearly 700 practicing professionals today. As the 15th apprentice of the great Rakugo Master, Katsura Bunshi VI, Katsura Sunshine brought the Japanese tradition to a new audience in Houston by offering performances of Rakugo in English.
Last September, Katsura Sunshine performed in Houston for the first time as a part of his 16-city North American Tour. Sunshine was so well received by Houston audiences that the consulate invited him back to Houston to perform at the Japan Festival. In addition to the performances in Houston; the consulate helped organize performances in Dallas, Texas (The Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth); Austin, Texas (The University of Texas at Austin); and Lexington, Kentucky (The Japan-America Society of Kentucky) exposing new audiences in Texas State and the surrounding region to the Japanese tradition of Rakugo.