Foreigners need a knowledge of Japaneseculture in order to appreciate the traditional rakugo monologues, but many modern rakugoka have adapted stories in English, so that English speaking audiences can enjoy the art form. Though some of the cultural circumstances differ, the underlying human frailties and emotions portrayed in rakugo are universal.
Medieval Buddhist priests used drama and public sermons as educational tools to make ordinary people reflect on religious themes such as the transiency of life, the folly of materialism, and the tragedy of the human situation. The street performers who created rakugo parodied these sermons and brought relief from the pain of everyday life by making people laugh at themselves. Rakugo exposes human foolishness in a lighthearted way that is still educational.
Just as in Western stand-up comedy, the exuberance and mischievous attitude of the storyteller is what captivates the audience and makes everyone want to laugh. Rakugo training does not use printed texts because the training focuses on the way in which it is conveyed.
The old saying that “laughter is the best medicine” is now being reinforced by modern medical studies. Some physical illnesses are caused by stress, worry, fear, and instability. Laughter has two benefits: It relieves stress, and it causes the lungs to take deep breaths, increasing the content of oxygen in the blood. Some integrated laughter into Yoga practice. For example, Dr. Madan Kataria, an Indian cardiologist started "laughing clubs" for his patients (see Laughter Yoga: Global Movement for Health, Joy & World Peace, Dr Kataria School Of Laughter Yoga. Retrieved August 18, 2008.), who meet each other in the street once a day and laugh together. Comic stories like those used in rakugo help people to put their worries into perspective, relax, and have a more accepting attitude towards themselves and others.
Unification Aspects is designed to relate the subject of this article to Unification Thought and to aid teachers and researchers who wish to further pursue these topics from a unification perspective.