2018 World Malaria Day: Traditional Japanese Kyogen Performance Features “Mosquito Sumo”

April 24, 2018

In honor of a visit to Japan by Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund, who was in Tokyo the day before World Malaria Day, a reception was arranged with a very special performance. The piece performed was Ka-zumo, or “mosquito sumo,” a Kyogen piece—Japan’s traditional comic theater—that was performed by Motonari Okura and his company. Set in the 14th century, the story depicts a master who wanted to have a sumo wrestler as his servant, but the recruiter found an enchanted mosquito disguised as a sumo wrestler instead. After several bouts against the sumo wrestler, the master realized that it was actually a mosquito, so he started to fan him away. We often think that malaria is a disease that only happens on other continents, but this comical story helps remind us that mosquitos were a familiar threat to people in old Japan.

The reception was co-hosted by JCIE and the British Embassy in Tokyo. British Ambassador Paul Madden CMG delivered a welcome speech, and the group of about 90 guests included ambassadors to Japan from a number of African countries, the former Minister of Health Yasuhisa Shiozaki (Chairman of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group), the Hon. Ichiro Aisawa (Co-Chair of Friends of the Global Fund, Japan), and others from civil society, the private sector, academia, and government.