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.

今日はお囃子さんの一人が、特別お稽古のために師匠の家に来ました。その方は師匠がお出になる落語会で三味線を弾きます。その日の噺は「天下一浮かれのくずより」(またの名を「紙くずや」)です。上方の多くの噺と同様、これも盛り沢山のハメモノが入ります。伝統的な歌舞伎、浄瑠璃、そして長唄の曲まで入ります。

ハメモノがあるということは、大阪落語と東京落語とを区別できる一つの点です。大阪の落語は東京のより、音楽が多くもっと賑やかです。理由は沢山ありますが、つまり、これは大阪が歴史的に商人の町であることと関係しています。東京のように侍、将軍中心の政治の町ではなかったのです。

第二次世界大戦の後、上方落語のハメモノが消えていくという話も心配もかなりありました。落語の研究者や5代目桂文枝師匠の様な噺家によると、その原因はお囃子さん(三味線弾き)も少なくなり、またハメモノを活かせる噺家も少なくなってきているからだということです。

染丸師匠は上方落語のハメモノがなくならないよう、尽力なさっている一人です。上方落語、また寄席囃子についての本を出版なさると共に、お囃子の弟子を6人も育て、その孫弟子までも2人います。この8人の方々は、現在上方落語のお囃子さんのほとんど半分になります。

染丸師匠になぜお囃子さんの弟子を取ったのかとうかがったら、考える間もなく、「それは人数足りないから。歳上の師匠たちはどんどん亡くなっていったから。三味線を弾いてくれる人はあまりいなかった。」と答えてくださいました。1995年から人間国宝である3代目桂米朝師匠は特に、上方落語へのこの功績を褒めていらっしゃいました。染丸師匠が次々と賞を受けた(2010年にも文部科学省から立派な賞をもらいました)所以はここにもあるに違いありません。

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