*First broadcast on August 31, 2023. Sometimes described as "solo opera," Rokyoku was once Japan's most popular form of entertainment, with top performers among the richest people in the land. Rokyoku rose to prominence in the late 19th century, but the advent of TV triggered a rapid decline. Now young performers are revitalizing this storytelling art by incorporating English, rock and pop music, and even dance. Peter Barakan experiences rokyoku in both old and new styles. And in Plus One, Kyle Card tries giving a performance himself.
Rokyoku is like a solo opera. A performer tackles multiple roles, building a narrative in dramatic speech and singing.
A recent performance incorporates a dance once popular with high-school girls.
Even rock music may be featured. Freedom of expression is one of rokyoku's stand-out features.