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Descending Stories Series

Haruko Kumota
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Descending Stories Series : Titles in Order

Book 10
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

THE STAGE IS SET

After the last remaining yose in Tokyo burns down, the future of rakugo is more uncertain than ever. But even without a theater to perform in, Yotaro is still adamant on keeping rakugo alive. Meanwhile, Yakumo makes his way through the underworld, but to pass on to the peace he so desperately craves, he’ll need to finally, and literally, lay his ghosts to rest.

The saga of a generation of love, art, and storytelling concludes and begins again…

FINAL VOLUME!
Book 9
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

DECISIVE MOMENT

Faced with the limits of his physical body and confronted with the reality of the changing world around him, Yakumo turns his back on his art. Yotaro, however, refuses to let him give up, and convinces Yakumo to perform “The God of Death” for a friend in prison. Yotaro hopes that this performance will inspire others in the same way that Yakumo once inspired him, but the performance ends up hitting a little too close to home…

The story of the next generation continues.
Book 8
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

HIDDEN SECRETS

Yakumo slowly begins to recover after his collapse on stage, but the light inside him has faded, and he shockingly declares that he won’t perform rakugo anymore. Meanwhile, in search of a film taken of the late Sukeroku, Higuchi takes Yotaro and Matsuda to Shikoku, where the two men learn a truth about the two storytellers–and what really happened that fateful night that claimed Sukeroku and Miyokichi’s lives.
Book 8
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

THE NEXT CHAPTER

After apprenticing for ten years under the great Yakumo Yurakutei VIII, Yotaro has finally become a shin’uchi and taken the name Sukeroku, a lineage with its own fraught history. But the newly-minted Sukeroku III cannot rest on his laurels for long, as ghosts from his own past come to haunt him in the wake of his achievement. With his family and his art on the line, can he find his way forward? Or will he be doomed to mediocrity as the rakugo tradition languishes?

The story of the next generation begins here.
Book 7
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

THE TIDES OF CHANGE

Yotaro’s reputation as the third generation Sukeroku spreads, and he’s getting steady work on both TV and at the yose. Higuchi, overjoyed to see Yotaro satisfy so many people, longs to create new rakugo stories with him, though it’s heresy in Yakumo’s eyes. Yakumo plans to take his own rakugo to the grave, but when he collapses during a performance, he finds his desires may once again be thwarted.

The story of the next generation continues here.
Book 4
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

LONELY AT THE TOP
 
After Sukeroku’s expulsion, Kikuhiko’s path to stardom seems clear, but the idea of inheriting the Yakumo name is a cold comfort. Sukeroku, disgraced, makes the heartbreaking decision to put his art aside and take responsibility for his new relationship with Miyokichi. As years pass and distance grows, Kikuhiko decides it’s up to him to bring his friend back to the theater. His determination takes him to the country, where Sukeroku now lives with his spirited young daughter. Kikuhiko is ready to stay as long as he needs to convince Sukeroku, but old wounds may come back to haunt them both.
 
The tragic story of Kikuhiko’s past reaches a climax!
Book 3
A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.

CLOSED CURTAINS
 
The last great rakugo storyteller of the Showa Era, Yakumo Yurakutei, continues to tell his apprentice, Yotaro, of the promise he made to his late best friend and rival, Sukeroku. As both men work towards their debut as shin’uchi, they are left to confront what drives them forward – for Sukeroku, it’s to create a path for the future of rakugo, and for Kikuhiko, it’s to discover a rakugo that’s uniquely his own.  Can he and Sukeroku continue to walk the same path, or will their journey through the world of rakugo together be severed?
Book 2
PAST PROMISES
 
After proving himself on stage, Yotaro has been fully accepted as Yakumo’s apprentice and a member of his household. But taking in this brash young man forces Yakumo to confront his own past, and the promises left unfulfilled to his late best friend and rival, Sukeroku. Yakumo decides to share a tale that begins not when he was a dignified artist, but an orphan named Bon. Bon’s history is also the history of fellow orphan Shin, a changing Japan in the face of war, and a woman named Miyokichi, who would hold the future in her elusive hands…


A multi-generational human drama set in the world of rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese comedic storytelling, Descending Stories follows an ex-convict whose life is changed by his apprenticeship to a famed storyteller, and Konatsu, who yearns to perform rakugo but cannot because women are not permitted in the craft.
Book 1
THE STAGE IS SET

A hapless young man is released from prison with nothing to his name, but he knows exactly what he wants: to train in the art of rakugo comedic storytelling. After seeing an unforgettable performance from one of Japan’s greatest masters, Yakumo Yurakutei VIII, during his time in jail, he will settle for nothing less than to become apprentice to the best. Yakumo, notorious for taking no students, is persuaded to take him on, and nicknames him Yotaro—the fool. Yotaro has no formal training or elegance, but something about his charisma reminds Yakumo of someone from his past.

The saga of a generation of love, art, and storytelling begins here.

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