K Welcomes Rakugo Comedian, Storyteller Katsura Sunshine

A storyteller and comedian with Broadway credits will be the featured presenter at Kalamazoo College’s Kafu Lecture on Thursday, April 20, in the Dalton Theatre at Light Fine Arts.

Katsura Sunshine is one of only a few living non-Japanese masters of rakugo, a 400-year-old tradition of comic-monologue storytelling in Japan. In the practice, a lone storyteller, dressed in a kimono, kneels on a cushion while using a fan and a hand towel as props. 

To become a professional rakugoka, a storyteller must be apprenticed to a master, from whom the storyteller receives a stage name. Sunshine, originally from Canada, first was accepted as an apprentice to the rakugo storytelling master Katsura Bunshi VI in September 2008. He debuted professionally on April 26, 2009, in Singapore, and completed his three-year rakugo apprenticeship in November 2011. 

Sunshine has performed in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Slovenia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Gabon, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and Japan. Reviews of Sunshine’s critically-acclaimed performances, such as a 2019 review from the New York Times, say his tales and prologues are full of self-deprecating humor, placing him in scenarios where he commonly plays an outsider. Watch excerpts from his previous performances in English and Japanese at Sunshine’s YouTube channel. 

The Kafu Lecture was established in 1982 by an anonymous donor in honor of Nagai Kafu, an acclaimed 20th century Japanese writer. Kafu studied at Kalamazoo College during the 1904-05 academic year. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7.

The event is cosponsored by K’s departments of Japanese, theatre and anthropology-sociology, and the Soga Japan Center at Western Michigan University. For more information, email K’s Department of Japanese at japanese@kzoo.edu

Rakugo Comedian and Storyteller Katsura Sunshine Performing
Katsura Sunshine is a master of rakugo, a 400-year-old Japanese art of comedy and storytelling. He will perform in a free show at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in Dalton Theatre at Light Fine Arts.
Sunshine’s YouTube channel features some of his English performances of rakugo.