M.W. ShoresSep 22, 2021
The Comic Storytelling of Western Japan
Satire and Social Mobility in Kamigata Rakugo
Cambridge University Press 2021
Rakugo, a popular form of comic storytelling, has played a major role in Japanese culture and society. Developed during the Edo (1600–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods, it is still popular today, with many contemporary Japanese comedians having originally trained as rakugo artists. Rakugo is divided into two distinct strands, the Tokyo tradition and the Osaka tradition, with the latter having previously been largely overlooked. This pioneering study of the Kamigata (Osaka) rakugo tradition presents the first complete English translation of five classic rakugo stories, and offers a history of comic storytelling in Kamigata (modern Kansai, Kinki) from the seventeenth century to the present day. Considering the art in terms of gender, literature, performance, and society, The Comic Storytelling of Western Japan: Satire and Social Mobility in Kamigata Rakugo (Cambridge UP, 2021) grounds Kamigata rakugo in its distinct cultural context and sheds light on the 'other' rakugo for students and scholars of Japanese culture and history.
Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.