This year’s Koenji Engei Festival, the seventh of its kind, offers ten days of theatrical performances like rakugo (one-man comic storytelling), manzai stand-up comedic double acts and magic shows at diverse locations in the Koenji district such as shrines and public baths, izakayas, bicycle shops and funeral halls. The number of participating artists, venues and visitors has risen with each festival.
The festival includes “Hajimete no yose” (‘my first yose’) theatrical entertainment with easy-to-follow commentary at a public bath; “Niraku Theater in Koenji,” where the audience can get its fill of the star attraction of yose engei Japanese-style vaudeville entertainment, kamikiri paper cutting craft; and “Nagetsunage: Daikagura Kyokugei,” a traditional performing arts show featuring young members of the Daikagura Kyokugeikai group.
But it’s not all indoor or seated Japanese-style vaudeville. Passers-by in the street will also be able to enjoy festivities – for example Koenji’s Etoile Shopping Street will play host to rakugo performances with a choice of meal included from its row of long-established eating houses offering Edo cuisine like tempura, sushi and soba.
A large number of yose engei performers have lived in the Koenji district since ancient times, so there is a culture of safeguarding and cultivating the tradition. There used to be an entertainment hall that accommodated several hundred people, and even now several places including the ZA-KOENJI Public Theatre continue to hold regular yose performances. We have gathered them together at the same time, solicited new venues, and grown it into a festival. The aim of putting on yose engei entertainment centering around rakugo is to get people to recognize yose engei as a form of arts and culture from the Koenji area, on top of being something they know and feel comfortable with.
Executive Committee for the Koenji Engei Festival
C/O ZA-KOENJI Public Theatre, 2-1-2, Koenjikita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 166-0002
More than 40 venues in Koenji area (Suginami City, Tokyo)