Kotohajime 事始め

Today was a very busy day. I arrived at Somemaru’s house at 9 a.m. to eat breakfast and finish last-minute set-up by 10 a.m., when Somemaru’s pupils would begin showing up to kick off the day’s festivities with the annual year-end deep house cleaning, ôsôji. Since Somemaru has so many pupils (14, including one he is surrogate for), we were able to clean his entire house in just two hours.

After cleaning we had a tea break and a snack of rice balls. Then we all got changed into suits for koto-hajime. Because this is such a formal ceremony, I didn’t feel that it would be right to take a picture. During koto-hajime Somemaru sat at the front of the room as each pupil gave a formal address of thanks for the year, and a report of the good aspects and areas they would like to improve on as a rakugo storyteller during 2010. Somemaru asked important questions and offered advice on how each could improve before preventing them with a ceremonial tenugui (hand towel) and hakusen (white paper folding fan). The two indispensable props in rakugo. At the very end of the ceremony I also gave a formal address, though I was incredibly nervous to speak in front of Somemaru’s artistic school. On his blog Somemaru explains koto-hajime much better than I can.

Immediately after this the group proceeded downstairs to the room that has the family’s Buddhist alter. Ohayashi-san (shamisen players) also started arriving at this time. A hôji (memorial) service was held for Somemaru’s parents (father 13 years, mother 7 years deceased). It was my first time to attend such a service, so the monk’s sutra chanting and the group incense burning was all very interesting, but I could tell that there were a few in the group who were tired from sitting seiza. The service lasted about an hour. Hanashika (storytellers) usually only sit seiza for about 20 minutes at a time. The hôji was interesting in itself, but I also had some side-entertainment. Of course I didn’t take pictures during the service, but I did get a picture of the flowers and gifts that people presented.


After the hôji, the group began prepping for the enkai party. From the kitchen I noticed that Somemaru was calling his pupils in order, one by one, to write their names on a sheet of paper. Though I am not an official pupil, I was happy when Somemaru called me to write my name too, in the kanji he designated for my name, Matto 真人 (Matt)The ohayashi-san present were also asked to write their names. This sheet lists the names of people who presented Somemaru with kagami-mochi (large rice cake offered to gods at New Years).

What better to have on an such an auspicious, cold December day than kani-nabe (crab hotpot) to eat and plenty of alcohol to drink? While I did spend most of the dinner party (enkai) playing the part of waiter, I did get my fill of good food and drinks. What a treat!


大掃除が終わったら、休憩にお茶とおにぎりをいただきました。その後は事始めのために全員がスーツに着替え。とても正式な儀式なので、写真を撮る自信はなかった。事始めに染丸師匠は座敷の前に座り、弟子一人一人は順番にフォーマルな挨拶を申し上げます。その中、一年間の感謝、そして2010年に噺家としていいこともこれから磨いていきたいところも申し上げました。 染丸師匠はそれぞれについて大事な質問を聞いたり、どうやってもっといい噺家になれるのか、とても役に立つアドバイスもくれました。この後すぐ、弟子に正式の手ぬぐいと白扇のプレゼントを渡しました。僕も師匠に挨拶しましたが、一門全員の前だったからとても緊張しました。 彼のブログに師匠が事始めについて素晴らしい説明を書いてくださいました。





Comments コメント

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s