Katsura Sunshine

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Katsura Sunshine
Sunshine at kikitei.jpg
Katsura Sunshine
Born Gregory Robic
(1970-04-06) April 6, 1970 (age 48)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Traditional Japanese “Rakugo” comic storyteller, television personality, playwright, composer

Katsura Sunshine (桂 三輝, Katsura Sanshain, born Gregory Robic, 6 April 1970) is a traditional Japanese rakugo comic storyteller and television personality, currently residing in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, Japan. He was also known in Toronto for his musical version of Aristophanes' "Clouds".


Early life[edit]

Sunshine was born in Toronto, Ontario, to parents of Slovenian origin. He studied classics at the University of Toronto, where he got his first introduction to the works of the ancient Greek comic playwright, Aristophanes. He became involved in translating, adapting, and performing in versions of Aristophanes' comedies for the Department of Classics.

In September 1994, his version of Aristophanes' The Clouds opened at the Poor Alex Theatre in Toronto, and, buoyed by positive reviews, ran for 15 months before embarking on a tour of central and eastern Canada.

Other works of theatre produced include the musicals Lysistrata, Assemblywomen, The Tokyo Affair, as well as two operas for children, Allegra's Magic Flute, and Orphea and the Golden Harp.


On September 1, 2008, Sunshine was accepted as an apprentice to the rakugo storytelling master, Katsura Bunshi VI (then named Katsura Sanshi), and subsequently received the name Katsura Sunshine. In the rakugo tradition, he received both his master's last name and part of the first (his master, Sanshi combined the first part of his name, “San”, meaning “three”, with the Japanese word for “Shine”, and gave it the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “Sunshine”).

Sunshine received his professional debut in Singapore on April 26, 2009,[1][2] and completed his three-year rakugo apprenticeship in November 2012. Sunshine has performed in Singapore, the United States and Canada, as well as throughout Japan. He currently resides in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, Japan. In July 2012, he opened his own rakugo theatre in his home in Ise, called the Ise Kawasaki Kikitei, where he regularly performs rakugo stories.[3][4]

There are a number of non-Japanese amateur rakugo storytellers in and outside of Japan,[5][6] including Diane Kichijitsu from Liverpool, but Sunshine is currently the only professional non-Japanese storyteller officially recognized by the Kamigata Rakugo Association (Kamigata rakugo kyôkai).[1][7][8] He is the first foreign storyteller to be active in the “Kamigata” circuit since the Association was founded in Osaka in 1957, though there appears to have been a professional non-Japanese storyteller-entertainer active in Osaka years before him. John Bayle (or John Bell, Jpn. ジョン・ベール) was an Englishman active around the same time that Kairakutei Black (1858-1923), a storyteller-entertainer in the Tokyo tradition, was active.[9] The career and life of Henry 'Kairakutei' Black has been discussed at length,[10][11] but John Bayle has received little treatment in English or Japanese.

Sunshine currently appears regularly on three television programs in Japan,[12] and has been the subject of several short documentaries made for television news.[citation needed]


External links[edit]

Katsura Sunshine's website


Interviews in Japanese

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