Yuh Kamiki will be familiar to viewers of BS Fuji TV in his role as the barman in its popular English-learning program, “The English Bar.”
Next month, however, his fame is set to spread further and wider when the stage, TV and film actor makes his live U.S. debut in Seattle, Washington state, with “Momotaro,” his signature solo piece based on a famous Japanese children’s folk tale about a hero of the same name — which means “Peach Boy” because he entered the world from a peach — who sets out from home to bring peace to the country by clearing oni (ogres) from a remote island with the help of a dog, a pheasant and a monkey who join him on the way.
Despite his busy schedule as a regular actor, 35-year-old Kamiki also describes himself as Japan’s only specialist Momotaro performer, having taken his solo work all over the country since he created it in 2013, performing in venues as varied as cafés, galleries, radio stations, hair salons, company offices and studio-theatres. For each show he tailors the contents to the particular setting, and sometimes introduces different versions of the folk tale in the form of a lecture, rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling), a short drama, improvisation, picture-card storytelling, a music performance, and so on.
On June 10, fast-rising, multi-talented Kamiki will incorporate picture cards into his performance in Seattle based on 1885’s first English translation of the Momotaro story. In addition, he’ll pose some trivia questions about Momotaro and also perform his traditional-style Momotaro dance wearing a kimono before rounding off the show with his rakugo take on Momotaro.
Meanwhile, all is not lost for people in Japan, who can catch the same show (or something very similar) on June 4 in Shibuya, Tokyo, and July 23 in Yokohama.
For more details, visit Yuh Kamiki’s website at http://yuhkamiki.com.