Somemaru’s Contribution 染丸師匠の功績

Today a Kamigata yose shamisen player came to Somemaru’s house for a special practice session. She will be playing at a rakugo show in which Somemaru will be starring on January 7th. He will be performing the story “Tenka ichi ukare no kuzu yori” (also known by the title “Kami kuzu ya”). Like many Kamigata- (Osaka) style stories, this one has a lot of hamemono (music). This story includes enjoyable bits of traditional numbers from kabuki, joruri, and nagauta.

The incorporation of hamemono is one important characteristic that sets rakugo in Osaka apart from that in Tokyo. The former is a more festive and musical art. The are many reasons for this being the case, but this might be boiled down to the fact that Osaka is historically a major center of commerce, as opposed to Tokyo, the traditionally samurai/shogun-centered city of administration.

In the decades following WWII there has been much discussion and concern regarding whether the musical tradition of Kamigata might not die out. The problem, according to rakugo scholars, and storytellers like the late Katsura Bunshi V, was that there were not enough professional shamisen players involved, and the number of storytellers who knew how to incorporate music and instrumental sound effects was rapidly decreasing.

Somemaru is one person who is trying to ensure that the musical tradition of this art does not die out. In addition to publishing major works on his art and its music, he has personally trained six professional yose shamisen players, and even has two “grand pupils.” These eight artists make up close to half of the professional shamisen players who play for Kamigata rakugo.

When I asked Somemaru about why he took on ohayashi pupils, he said without pause for thought, “Because there weren’t enough. All of the older [shamisen] masters we’re dying off, and we had hardly anybody to play for us.” Katsura Beicho, Living National Treasure since 1995, has praised Somemaru specifically for this contribution to their art. This is no doubt another reason why Somemaru receives award after award, including a major one from the Japanese government in 2010.







Comments コメント

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

You are commenting using your 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