Karukuchi (軽口)

"Karukuchi" is an old name of Kamigata rakugo, traditional Japanese comic storytelling as performed in the Kyoto-Osaka region.

It is a type of narrative arts, which is typically performed by a pair. Details are described in the main section.

Karukuchi is a type of narrative arts, which is typically performed by a pair of people. It is also called as "kakeai-banashi" or "kakeai-chaban".

Karukuchi is said to be the origin of "manzai" or a comic dialogue and comedies.

Karukuchi has its origin in plays such as kabuki parodied and developed on a stage prepared in the precincts of the Osaka-tenmangu Shrine, in Shijo Kawaramachi, Kyoto City at the end of the Edo Period. Gradually, these entertainments evolved into theatrical arts which were performed as a type of niwaka (an impromptu comic play) as zenza (a opening act) at vaudeville theaters. Sitting straight in costumes, two people played riddles and compared wits with each other, or parodied theatrical plays such as kabuki, and this style of arts became popular. Later, this type of arts separated from niwaka arts and was established as an independent type of art. In August, 1892, entertainment shows under the name of "Karukuchi" performed by a duo of Umedanji KATSURA (the first generation) and Gantoku KATSURAYA gained stories of rakugo repertoire. Subsequently, karukuchi was performed by popular duos of Jirobo KATSURA and Tarobo KATSURA, Ineko AKINOYA and Inehachi AKINOYA, and Danshichi TSURUYA and Dankaku TSURUYA. Later, with the advent of onkyoku-manzai (musical manzai) and shabekuri-manzai, the popularity of karukuchi declined.

In the postwar time, although manzai became completely dominant and karukuchi became extinct, manzai dialogues performed by duos of Gangyoku ASHINOYA and Juro HAYASHIDA, Yakko MATSUBAYA and Kikuyakko MATSUBAYA, Kosei SHOKAKUYA and Yumewaka UKIYOTEI, Kacho ICHIRINTEI and Katsumi MATSUBARA and Karaku UKIYOTEI and Sazae MINAMI were close to the style of karukuchi.

Today, although there is no successor of karukuchi, karukuchi is often performed at vaudeville theaters by Somemaru HAYASHIYA and his pupils and Gorobe TSUYUNO and his pupils. Keiko UTSUMI, a Tokyo-based comedian, also performs one of karukuchi repertoires, called "Meicho Meiboku" when she appears on stage with her pupil comedian duo, Knights.

[Original Japanese]