Tokyo Tech News
Participants were in for a treat on January 27 as Tokyo Tech's Ripro, formerly known as the Student Skills Discovery and Development Project, hosted online its 15th special lecture for students, faculty, staff, and members of the public. Entertaining the audience was rakugo artist Komichi Ryutei with her lecture and performance titled "The secrets of living through talk: A rakugo artist's fundamentals."
Komichi is an inspirational pioneer. After graduating from Waseda University, she entered work life by joining a publishing company. In 2003, she became the disciple of the 7th Enshi Ryutei to begin her journey in the rakugo world. In 2017, she was promoted to shin-uchi, a full-fledged master of storytelling. This is a grand achievement for Komichi, a mother of two. She is only the sixth female storyteller to achieve this rank.
In the first half of this special lecture, Komichi gave the inside story of her time as a warm-up storyteller who entertained the audience before the main act. She emphasized the essence of communication that she gained during this time. In the second half, the master gave two rakugo performances. She cleverly inserted phrases such as "Tokyo Tech" into her lines, constructing a more familiar setting for her audience. Both halves of the event were followed by a Q&A session, during which Komichi did her best to answer questions in the limited time available.
A total of 138 people participated in this special lecture, demonstrating the high level of interest in communication created by a rakugo artist. The survey conducted after the event was full of positive comments.
3rd year, Systems and Control Engineering*
This special lecture was held for two main reasons — to provide some enjoyment and laughter amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and to improve the communication skills of Tokyo Tech students. The results of the participant questionnaire showed that most people very much enjoyed the session, but it also reaffirmed the fact that more opportunities to improve communication skills are needed at Tokyo Tech. I think this event was a fresh way to meet the needs of many students.
This was only the second special lecture to be organized online, and I am glad it finished without any major problems despite our lack of experience. I believe the things we learned while arranging and executing this event under such uncertain circumstances will be useful in our future research and other activities. We are currently planning the second online special lecture on communication. Through the Ripro project, we hope that Tokyo Tech students and all other participants will continue to grow together.
*Affiliation at time of event
Ripro, formerly known as the Student Skills Discovery and Development Project, is a student-centered initiative backed by Tokyo Tech's Student Success Support Division (formerly Student Initiative Support Section) which aims to foster creativity and leadership, mainly among bachelor-level students. The goal is also to "provide a place for growth" where junior and senior high school students, Tokyo Tech students, faculty, and staff, and local residents can deepen their understanding on a broad range of topics. Currently, Ripro members mainly focus on four types of projects — holding special lectures, hosting symposiums, conducting special projects, and visiting domestic academic societies.
Ripro activities were obviously restricted in academic year 2020 due to COVID-19, but the group managed to implement their third special project over the summer by supporting Den-en Chofu Gakuen junior school students with their research. In October 2020, the 14th special lecture, which focused on the application of clinical psychology to ease concerns caused by the coronavirus, was also held online for Tokyo Tech students, faculty, and staff members.
By continuing to plan and conduct a variety of student-centered projects, Ripro hopes to foster in participating students not only creativity and leadership, but also planning, negotiation, and communication skills.