Shijaku Katsura II

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Crest of the Katsura school of rakugo

Katsura Shijaku II (2代目 桂 枝雀?, Nidaime Katsura Shijaku, August 13, 1939 – April 19, 1999) was a Japanese rakugo performer of the late 20th century, who often performed in English. He was born Tōru Maeda (前田 達?, Maeda Tōru) in Kobe, the son of a brick-maker.[1] In 1960 he entered the tutelage of the rakugo performer Katsura Beichō III (桂米朝?), and upon completion of his study, was given the stage name Katsura Koyone X (桂小米?).[2] He changed his stage name to Shijaku Katsura (Shijaku Katsura II)[3] in 1974. Katsura's more well-known rakugo stories include Manjū kowai (まんじゅうこわい?), Atagoyama (愛宕山?), Toki udon (時うどん?), and Yadoyagataki (宿屋仇?).[4]

Katsura studied English in the early 1980s, and gave his first English-language rakugo performance in 1983.[5] For the rest of his career, he often performed rakugo in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere, making an otherwise inaccessible form of comedy accessible for non-Japanese speakers.

Katsura's students include equally famous rakugo performers such as Jakujaku Katsura.[6] He also assisted in launching the career of Bill Crowley, the non-Japanese professional rakugo performer.[7]

Katsura died of heart failure on April 19, 1999, after a failed suicide attempt at his home in Suita, Osaka.[8] He was discovered by his wife Eyo and his brother, the magician Takeshi Maeda.



Further reading[edit]

Works in Japanese

  • Katsura, Shijaku (1996). Katsura Shijaku no rakugo-annai. Tokyo: Chikuma-shobo.
  • Ueda, Fumiyo (2003). Warawasete warawasete Katsura Shijaku. Tokyo: Tankōsha.