Classroom Resources

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.

Level: Junior_Secondary, Senior_Secondary

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 http://katsurasunshine.com/
Katsura Sunshine explains Rakugo www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkvKIedDUu0

Rakugo Quiz




Have a look at Rakugo in English!

Jugemu by Katsura Sunshine www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ8Tq5EotaE

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?



Rakugo Challenge: JUGEMU



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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWK-VW4OnhE

サンシャインさんのインタビューを見てみよう!

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。☆☆☆