What's this Challenge about?
What's this Challenge about?
The success of Rokyoku Performance in New York last year enabled us to take a big step forward to let a lot of people abroad recognize Rokyou.
However, we believe it is necessary to continue to perform overseas in order to let Rokyoku be recognized and enjoyed by many people around the world.
We therefore decided to challenge Overseas Rokyoku Tour in 5 cities in 3 countries by using COUNTDOWN for the period of one year.
Let us introduce Rokyoku, the entertainment we Japanese are proud of, and succeed Haruno Keiko’s Overseas Rokyoku Tour in 2015.
We highly appreciate
Over a decade has passed since I was approved to become an apprentice to the master of female Rōkyoku of Kamigata, The Second Yuriko Haruno. Before I was introduced to Rōkyoku, I made my debut as in-home tutor, Keiko-sensei, on the TV program Susunu! Denpa Shōnen of Nippon Televsion. I appeared on the program Tōdai Icchokusen! which became very popular, with a projected 12.2 million viewers in the Kantō area tuned in to the season finale. From there, over the course of about a year, I appeared on a variety of TV programs including: Emergency Room 24 Hours, Waratte Iitomo!, as well as a TV commercial for Shiseido.
No Rōkyoku, No Life! --Training days with a buzz cut
Since I was a little girl, I've always been in love with musicals and Jidaigeki (Japanese period dramas), and had dreamed to become a professional singer or actor. When, for the first time, I was intruded to Rōkyoku--comparable to a one-man musical or a one-man Jidaigeki, if such a thing could exist--it struck me with the certainty, "This is it; this is what I'm going to make my life pursuit."
I made up my mind and it was full speed ahead. I went to Osaka to ask the master to take me in as her apprentice. She refused my request and told me to give up my quest. "Without Rōkyoku, there is no life for me!" I begged her. I still remember the joy and excitement that I felt the moment she gave in to my insistence and agreed to train me; I felt that my life had finally begun.
A half year later, I buzzed my hair off to 3mm (lol), moved to Osaka, and started the full-scale training to be a Rōkyoku-shi. In Osaka, although I had no friends nor family, with only my master to rely on, the happiness of having found my life pursuit outweighed any of my anxieties. I concentrated on my endeavor, taking the small steps of the training patiently to accumulate the real skills. From square one, before I even knew what Rōkyoku really was, all I had in my heart was the determination of my life's calling.
Rōkyoku is… A one-man musical?
"What is Rōkyoku anyway?" many of you might ask. Rōkyoku is a genre of narrative singing performance accompanied by a Shamisen, and is one of the iconic styles of the Japanese traditional art of storytelling, among Rakugo, Kōdan, and so forth. It was established sometime in the late Edo Shogunate to early Meiji era, and became the mainstream entertainment at the time. It became so popular that many of the Rōkyoku-shi became celebrities and were on the list of millionaires.
Rōkyoku is like a one-man Opera in that it tells a story with narrative and acting sections, called Tanka, and singing sections, called Fushi. There are no musical scores used in Rōkyoku. One of the most attractive aspects is the dynamic, live atmosphere created by the interaction between the Rōkyoku-shi and the Kyoku-shi (Shamisen player), which reminds some of a jazz session.
Rōkyoku has such a wide variety of titles, there's something for everyone to enjoy. A romance for the younger crowd, for instance: the anxious heart of the girl, Okiku, in Banchō Sarayashiki who could not help but to test her man's love; the jealous wife, Osen, in Taruya Osen and her little misunderstanding that leads to unthinkable strife. I believe that the delicate workings of romance can bring sympathy to anyone's heart--beyond the boundaries of time and culture. How about Kanda Matugorō, an amusing story with a sweet little boy, to appeal to an audience with many young children? Or how about a story portraying the love between parents and child, Ryōkoku Meoto Hanabi, for a senior audience? There are so many stories to choose from. In the end-of-year holidays, the beloved classic Chūshingura is frequently performed.
Another interesting aspect of Rōkyoku is that a single Rōkyoku-shi plays all the characters in the story. Also, the melodious storytelling, as dynamic as it is delicate, accompanied by the dramatic music played on the Shamisen, creates the gravity that completely sucks you in to the story.
These days, many youth find modern musical qualities, like those of jazz, rock and rap, in Rōkyoku and become fans of it. No matter your age or gender, anyone can enjoy Rōkyoku; all you need is to just see it once.
Recently, I've been performing at popular events such as Isshinjimonzenyose and Tenmatenjinhanjōtei, as well as enthusiastically conducting my concert event, which includes my workshop, Keiko Haruno's Rōkyoku Rock You! (Please read my profile for details). Additionally, I have been working to the best of my ability as the director of Public Interest Incorporated Association, Rōkyoku Shinyūkai, towards the further development of Rōkyoku.
I had the great honor of receiving the Sakuya Kono Hana Award, awarded by Osaka-shi for the talents who will lead Osaka culture, even though I was originally from Tokyo before becoming a Rōkyoku-shi in Osaka.