Learn on Your Own 自分で習え

Somemaru had to teach Sumiyoshi odori (dance) at the Hanjôtei today, so after breakfast we changed clothes and headed out. It is always fun for me to wear yukata (thin, cotton kimono, usually worn during summer months, or for practice, work, or something else that might make you sweat), but today was my first time to drive wearing one. I got several strange looks from other drivers, and even a couple policemen. Somemaru got a kick out of this.

After dance practice Somemaru had a meeting with the manager of the Hanjôtei. Somemaru proposed ending music and dance classes (narimono kyôshitsu) for a number of reasons, the most significant being that only a few out of 15 or 20 zenza seem to actually be learning anything. Somemaru pointed out the fact that some masters, despite Kamigata rakugo being such a musical art, don’t really feel it’s important to learn anything besides storytelling. In this, some hanashika do nothing but shinsaku (lit. newly-composed) rakugo, which most often leaves traditional instruments out altogether.

Somemaru today expressed that he feels a brief indroduction to the basics of yose bayashi and dance is important, but following that formal introductions to outside teachers can be made to young hanashika who are truly intent on learning arts that will enable them to make their rakugo more “colorful” (hade). The result of today’s meeting was a decision to discontinue the narimono kyôshitsu as of March 31. If in the future there are serious requests for another class with regular meeting times, there is a chance that things will recommence, though, perhaps, with new guidelines for participants.

All this said, Somemaru truly feels that it is important for hanashika to learn outside (non-rakugo) traditional arts like Japanese dance, yose bayashi, etc. This, he says, will help them make their art more enjoyable to listen to and watch. Personally, Somemaru is a big fan of kabuki. He seems to have entire plays memorized. In fact, he even subscribes to the Kabuki Channel. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t watch kabuki at his house! Not surprisingly, Somemaru has many shibaibanashi (kabuki-inspired rakugo stories, which have a long history in Osaka) in his repetoire. Again, Somemaru feels practicing various arts is very important. Experiencing various things is important.

Speaking of having experiences, when I was a minarai apprentice of Katsura Bunshi V (1930-2005) he said half-jokingly that hanashika also need to spend time drinking, gambling, and carousing. Apparently hanashika need to know about these “three paths of pleasure” (sandôraku) since they are often found in rakugo stories.







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