Rakugo in Pakistan: Tickle Yourself with Traditional Japanese Humor


In November 2006, the Japan Foundation will hold performances of rakugo in English in Pakistan. Japan enjoys fairly good relations with Pakistan, but the Pakistani people have limited opportunities to come in contact with Japanese arts and culture firsthand.

In cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Pakistan and the Consulate-General of Japan in Karachi, the Japan Foundation will dispatch rakugo performers Kakushow Shofukutei, Asakichi Katsura, and emcee and producer Kimie Oshima.

Kimie Oshima is excited about the trip to Pakistan and says, "The aim of rakugo is not merely to make people laugh. Humor makes it easier for people to accept foreign cultures, and the real purpose of our rakugo performance is to bring people in closer touch with Japanese culture through laughter."

What is rakugo?

Rakugo can best be described as a Japanese "sit-down" comedy or comic storytelling. Performers sit on a small cushion before an audience and act out stories with a comic style and structure. The performer plays the parts of several characters in a single sketch with just two props—a fan and a hand towel. Rakugo is a traditional form of performing art that has a long history dating back to the end of the seventeenth century. The rakugo stories are usually centered around tales told by commoners or sermons preached by local priests. The stories reflect traditional concepts and values that nevertheless remain meaningful and entertaining today.

For more information on rakugo in English, please see


Date: November 21, 2006
Time: From 15:00 and from 19:00
Venue: Arts Council Theater, Karachi
Date: November 23 and 24, 2006
Time: From 18:30
Venue: Islamabad Club, Islamabad

Profiles of the Performers

SHOFUKUTEI Kakushow (Rakugo performer)

Photo of SHOFUKUTEI KakushowA rakugo performer since 1984. Performs his original style of rakugo, puppet rakugo. Unlike regular rakugo, uses many props. Has won accolades at major comedy festivals, such as those in Montreal and Melbourne.

KATSURA Asakichi (Rakugo performer)

Photo of KATSURA AsakichiA rakugo performer since 1993; started rakugo in English in 2000. Has been participating in Oshima’s world tours since 1998. Won the NHK Comedy Performance Prize in 2001. Plays many Japanese instruments.

OSHIMA Kimie, Ph.D. (Emcee/ Producer)

Photo of OSHIMA Kimie, Ph.D.Ph.D. in sociolinguistics; associate professor at Bunkyo Gakuin University. Started producing rakugo in English in 1996 and takes rakugo on a world tour every year. Regularly appears on the Hello from Tokyo program on NHK International Broadcasting Radio. Also performs original rakugo stories in English.

Contact information:

(Mr.) Kanai or (Ms.) Yamashita, Performing Arts Div., Japan Foundation
Phone +81-5369-6063l

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