The Female rakugo performer, Showko, is here in Melbourne!

English    Japanese


Rakugo in English!? It sounds very interesting!
When I first saw my master’s (Shofukutei Kakushow) live performance in Singapore, I was so excited and thought "This is it!" The Puppet Rakugo made me laugh from the bottom of my heart.

I was so determined to become his apprentice that I even ended up following him to London, without discussing it with anyone. With Japanese traditional rakugo, its already interesting enough translated directly into English, but some jokes don't work in English as we play with words. So I figured I’d make it more interesting by rearranging the stories and adding my puppets to make it my style.

So you even left your boyfriend (now husband) behind in Singapore to become an apprentice?
Back then, it was like I was enchanted, I wasn't afraid of anything and just went for it! I'd be thinking about how amazing it'd be to use puppets to do things anywhere and everywhere in the world. I was delirious when I first saw the performance and knew immediately this was what I wanted to do for my life! I asked him to be a protege but he said no as all masters do to test your choice. It's very difficult to be accepted and you have to show you're determination and passion. Then, I heard Mr. Kakushow was heading to London as a cultural ambassador so I resigned from my career as a radio presenter and flew over a day before his arrival and waited in the airport. I was holding a sign like someone from a tour company with "Welcome to London" written on it. My actions showed him my passion to be a Rakugo performer and he finally accepted me.

How's the public reaction like in Melbourne?
I feel that Melbournians hold strong views on art. It is not like how critics see it, but more of a “let's enjoy it” kind of warm feeling. They often end up being very excited. Sometimes misunderstanding occurs when I wear a kimono. People think I am a geisha! (laughs) A while ago I had an old lady come to me and said, "I've read the book about you! A lot has happened to you since you were little." I thought she was talking about Arthur Golden’s novel “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Actually, in London, even when I was all prepared for my performance, the English stage manager would  say to me, "hurry up and powder your face or else you won't make it on time!"

Photo insert: Showko has brought approximately 50 pieces of kimono with her to Melbourne.

Where and when do you get your inspirations from?
I've always loved jogging and I jog around the neighborhood three times a week. There are so many natural places in Melbourne and my house is close to the beach too. Inspirations pop up when I am jogging or when I am browsing through antique and OP shops.

Wow! You have so many puppets!
From President Obama to Michael Jackson, One Eye Monster to Ninja Ken and many more! Actually, two dollar shops play a big role in this. I've always enjoyed making puppets so it's been good practice too.

Ventriloquism seems very difficult to do…
England is the home of ventriloquism. I was quite good at hiding my mouth movement when I learnt ventriloquism in Japan but it was very difficult to pronounce "M", "B" and "P" sounds without moving my lips. I got some English books on ventriloquism to learn and before heading to England I practiced on my husband morning till night even for daily conversations before I had to perform the real deal over there. Eventually, my husband said to me, "Please, I beg you! Just talk normally!" But thanks to the practice, I was able to perfect my ventriloquism skill in a very short period of time.

You'll perform at the Japanese Festival on the 20th of May and continue performing in June right?
I've been thinking and asking myself if I can make it any more interesting. Actually I now have something special for Melbourne. But… I'll leave it as a secret for now (laughs). Also, as a challenge, I tried incorporating a musical like style into my songs and lyrics. I want to create a special, Melbourne only version, so I added my own songs to make the show more enjoyable. The songs are original so it would be fantastic if I were able to garner some laughter.

As it is one of Shofukutei Kakushow’s policies, our goal is to deliver happiness and warmth to the whole family, so children are most welcome!

I regularly go back to Japan to perform but I believe it's my duty to introduce Japan through this form of comedy. I want to make Australians laugh out loud with my English rakugo shows.

Thank you! Ms. Showko!

Interviewed and written by Kurilui. Photographed by sHue ?



~Japanese Puppet Rakugo~

Japanese comedy show with a blend of traditional entertainment, puppetry, song, dance, bamboo magic….and monsters. Based on a 400yr old form of traditional storytelling the kimono clad Showko kneels on a cushion to perform but puts a new spin on it with her
puppets and amazing ventriloquism skills to make it more visual, fun and hilarious …..Banzai!

Date and Time: 14-16  June (7pm-8pm), 17  June (6pm-7pm)
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Ticket Price: Full – $23.00, Concession- $20.00
Showko's Official Website:

Be first to comment