Tomb Of The Untold Stories

RakugoTombHere lie the funniest Japanese stories ever told. Or so they say, because when it was decided in 1941 that tales of wayward sons in the red light district, mistress mishaps and too much saké were inappropriately funny for wartime, the famous rakugo performers who buried them under this slab vowed the stories would never be performed again. Fifty-three of the most popular rakugo tales of all time – including “Mummy Hunting” and “A Crow In The Morning” – are entombed at this modest shrine near Tawaramachi Station.


Rakugo is traditional Japanese storytelling, in which one actor performs every part while sitting on stage. Here is my friend Hiroyuki Ootomo, performing some non-entombed rakugo pieces at the German Embassy last year. If you’d like to see what rakugo is like, there’s a two minute video of him performing in English on YouTube.


The names of all the famous rakugo actors who prayed for success here at this little shrine are written on the wall outside!


The inari fox guarding the rakugo shrine looks especially fierce, don’t you think?

If you want to visit the tomb of the untold stories at the rakugo shrine the next time you’re in Tokyo, photos & info  about Kappabashi Street and a map are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more