Rakugo: now and then /今ここにある落語 A virtual roundtable (University of Cambridge)

Laura Moretti's picture

Rakugo: now and then


A virtual roundtable


Join us for a roundtable on the art of rakugo,

featuring celebrated rakugo master Tatekawa Shinoharu in dialogue with

prof Satō Yukiko (The University of Tokyo)

and Sarah Stark (Ghent University)


Tuesday 3 May 2022

15.00-16.30 UK time

Time converter

Link to registration

Everyone is welcome!


With roots in early modern Japan and yet very much alive and ever-changing, rakugo is a type of performance that defies any easy description. Sitting on his zabuton cushion, one performer creates through words a world populated by different characters; a world filled with humour, suspense, tragedy, horror, and much more. Akin to storytelling, but equally different, rakugo shares aspects with stand-up comedy, but is no stand-up comedy. It is a living art that needs to be experienced to be fully comprehended. Join us to discover rakugo’s complex and multifaceted world!

As part of Shinoharu’s one-week rakugo residency for students at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) this roundtable discusses the creative process behind the creation of shinsaku rakugo, it tackles issues of diversity in performing rakugo, and reflects on the universality of this art.

The roundtable will be conducted mainly in English, with some parts in Japanese.



Rakugo master Tatekawa Shinoharu 立川志の春 is a performer born in Osaka, Japan. After graduating from Yale University, he worked at Mitsui & Co. Ltd for three years. In 2002, he was so greatly impressed and inspired when he went to Tatekawa Shinosuke’s rakugo performance, that he decided to give up his corporate career to become a professional rakugo performer himself by taking up a discipleship with Shinosuke. Master Shinoharu trained in the art of rakugo for seventeen years reaching the highest rank of shin-uchi (a master rank rakugo performer). He performs traditional and original stories, both in Japanese and English, and travels around the world to bring rakugo to new audiences.

Prof Satō Yukiko is Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo. She was awarded her PhD at the same University. Her research focusses on novels and performative arts from the late early-modern period into the Meiji era. More recently she has been working on the production of the modern rakugo writer and performer San’yūtei Enchō. She has also clarified how censorship hit the playful fictional prose known under the label of gesaku. Major publications include: Edo no e-iri shōsetsugōkan no (2011); Santō Kyōden: kokkei share daiichi no sakusha (2009); Edo no shuppan tōseidan’atsu ni honrō sareta gesakucha tachi (2017). 

Sarah Stark is PhD candidate at the Institute of Japanese Studies, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Ghent University, Belgium. In her thesis, she examines training processes on and off Tokyo’s rakugo stages. Next to laughing in yose audiences, she enjoys translating children's books for fun, collecting tenugui and taking pictures of Tokyo’s store fronts. Were it not for the pandemic, Sarah would currently be jetting around Europe, producing rakugo shows with supertitles in the local language.

Facilitators: Prof Barak Kushner and Dr Laura Moretti (University of Cambridge)


For any inquiry please contact: Dr Laura Moretti (lm571@cam.ac.uk)

Categories: Announcement, Roundtable
Keywords: virtual event