We lost a great storyteller

Good morning everyone,

It was a rainy day yesterday, and the rest of the week isn't looking much nicer. We're expected to have rainy or overcast skies all the way through to the weekend. Hopefully it'll clear up from next week. (Actually, if we're really being hopeful, I hope the forecast changes...ha ha!)

Well, that was a shocking end to the World Cup, eh? I thought that Japan had a good chance to go through to the top 8. Even though they lost, this was their best performance in my opinion, because they finally started scoring goals. I hope this year's efforts turn into more success in years to come.

"Rakugo" comic storyteller Katsura Utamaru, known for his superb skill in telling classic Japanese comic stories, died of a lung illness Monday. He was 81.

Utamaru, whose real name was Iwao Shiina, was also popular outside of rakugo, as he was known as the emcee of the long-running TV comic show "Shoten" that started in 1966.

According to reports, Utamaru died due to heart disease shortly before noon at a hospital in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo.

The Yokohama native received the Order of Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, from the Japanese government in 2007, as well as numerous prizes and commendations in his long career.

Utamaru started his career as a rakugo storyteller under Kokontei Imasuke when he was 15 years old and later became a disciple of Katsura Yonemaru.

He became the fifth emcee of "Shoten" in 2006 after serving as a popular regular member of the show. He left the TV show in 2016 citing his health.

Utamaru also served as the head of the Rakugo Arts Association and worked on nurturing young comic storytellers.

He had been in and out of hospital lately due to health issues including broken bones, pneumonia and intestinal obstruction.

He last performed rakugo onstage at National Engei Hall in Tokyo on April 19.

I hope that there will be some new 'rakugo' storytellers who step forward to take his  place.

Have a great day!

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