Traditional Japanese woodblock prints called Ukiyo-e flourished during the Edo period in the 18th-19th century. It is said that the unique and outstanding features of Ukiyo-e had impacted internationally renowned artists, particularly impressionists.
Ukiyo-e woodblock prints were considered a form of entertainment for the masses, and each print was as affordable as a bowl of noodles. These prints were created in collaboration of master artisans - the Eshi or painter, Horishi or carver and Surishi or printer; colorfully depicting in detail the manners and customs of the Edo era. During the same era, another form of entertainment called Rakugo was popular among the commoners. It features characters in conversation and ends in a punchline.
In the series, we will dive into the world of Ukiyo-e, exploring through one of the most well-preserved collection of prints, the Spaulding Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presented in Rakugo-style storytelling by Katsura Sunshine.
Katsura Sunshine / Rakugo Storyteller
Katsura Sunshine was born in Toronto, Ontario. He studied Greek and Latin at the University of Toronto. As playwright and composer, his musical "Clouds" ran for 15 months in Toronto and toured Canada.
He came to Japan in 1999 to pursue studies in Noh and Kabuki Theatre.
On September 1, 2008, Sunshine was accepted as an apprentice to the great Rakugo storytelling master, Katsura Bunshi VI (then named Katsura Sanshi), and subsequently received the name Katsura Sunshine.
Sunshine is the first ever professional Western Rakugo storyteller in the history of the "Kamigata" Rakugo tradition, based in Osaka, and only the second ever in the history of Japan.