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Documentary: The Rōkyoku Story



Rōkyoku—a form of storytelling that uses a shamisen and a unique way of singing to move the hearts of the audience. Akin to rap music of today, rōkyoku originated as a form of street performance. Once hugely popular with the masses in its day, it lost prominence with advancements in media and now it is a traditional art that is just about remaining alive. Both its performers and fans lean towards the older generation and it receives little mainstream focus. Despite all of this, one woman has thrown herself into the world of rōkyoku, and her story lies at the heart of a new documentary called The Rōkyoku Story.

The documentary is primarily focused around Kosome Minatoya, who became an apprentice to the legendary performer Koryu Minatoya after being enamored by one of her performances, but it also shines a light on many others who live in this world, an undertaking which took director Atiqa Kawakami around five years to film. It captures the reality of a world that is in danger of being lost, by casting a spotlight not only the unique voices of these women storytellers but also the generation-transcending community and emotional bonds which they share.

The Rōkyoku Story [Zesshō Rōkyoku Story]
Currently showing at Euro Space, Tokyo. Nationwide release scheduled.
Starring: Kosome Minatoya, Koryu Minatoya, Yuko Tamagawa, Toyoko Sawamura, and more.
Directing/Filming/Editing: Atiqa Kawakami

Images: (C)Passo Passo + Atiqa Kawakami

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