Japanese storyteller to perform in Vietnam

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  Rakugo Master Katsura Utazo. Photo courtesy of Japan Foundation

Japan's well-known Rakugo master Katsura Utazo will perform his sit-down comedy shows in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City next week, according to the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam.

Rakugo, literally, Topper Story, is a Japanese traditional comedy monodrama with origins in the 16th century and popularized during the Edo era (17-18th century). Rakugo has been verbally passed down through one generation to another, from masters to apprentices, as a professional art form.

Performers sit on a small mattress in front of the audience and act out stories with a comic style and structure.

As the stories are narrated in Japanese, the shows in Vietnam will have Vietnamese sub-titles. Utazo will perform Rakugo masterpieces including Kinmeichiku [roughly translated as Yotaro the Idiot], Chotan [Long and Short] and Shinigami [The Devil of Death].

Shinigami, believed to be an adaptation of "Godfather Death" from Grimms' Fairy Tales, will be the highlight of the show, organizers said.

Born in 1964, Utazo took his apprenticeship under Rakugo Master Katsura Utamaru in late 1991.

The performances will take place at 8 p.m. at the Voice of Vietnam Theater, 58 Quan Su Street, Hanoi on October 24 and at the Students' Cultural House, 643 Dien Bien Phu Street, Ward 1, District 3, HCMC on October 27.

Invitation tickets can be obtained in Hanoi at the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam (27 Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District) and in HCMC at the Office for Japanese Language Experts of the Japan Foundation (15 D5, Ward 25, Binh Thanh District) and at Pu Shop (453 Huynh Van Banh Street, Ward 13, Phu Nhuan District).

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