Rakugo & Jugemu


I know I’ve written about Rakugo before, but it was limited. It’s an aspect of Japanese culture I’ve been attempting to bring to my students over the last couple of years.  After having been introduced to it years ago at a Japanese teacher’s meeting, I encountered it through the asa-dora Chiritotechin on NHK last year.  I was mesmerized.  I watched a few Rakugo performances after that.  So, today I showed a couple of examples of it to my students and they were mostly stunned by the speed of the language and of course, were intimidated. I am too, in a sense, and have to focus and listen very closely, understanding some of it, enough to appreciate it, enough to laugh and yet not getting the punchline at all. I only want to expose my students to an aspect of culture one wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to or maybe even hear about typically. Although, that is changing with the advent of English speaking Rakugo-ka.  At any rate, in class today I passed out their first piece for memorization, Jugemu.

Jugemu is a kind of Japanese version of Rikki Tikki Tembo a story I used to read to my own kids (how could I forget?) back when they were young and squirmy.  We had fun with it. Now I get to have fun with my students while they struggle to memorize this funny list of preposterous names.  The Japanese have fun with it too on NHK’s Nihongo de Asobo, interpreting it in song, dance and chant for the younger generation.  Of course, I’ll share these with my students as well.

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