Hayashiya Somemaru III 三代目林家染丸

I’ve been meaning to make this post for a while now.

Last time I went out to Somemaru’s house for the day, there was one thing I didn’t share in the blog that followed. Somemaru scanned an old picture of this shishô, Hayashiya Somemaru III (1906-68), printed it out on high-quality photo paper, framed it, and hung it on a wall in his living room. When the picture was hung and straightened, Somemaru looked up and smiled, satisfied with his work. It was has if Somemaru, a shishô of high rank in the Kamigata Rakugo Association, once again became a pupil. He had his own shishô there to look over him, and the people who pass through his house.

This is a somewhat sad month since June 15th is the anniversary of Somemaru III’s death. Somemaru wrote about this recently in his blog. Here is my translation:

Today is the anniversary of my shishô‘s death. He died on June 15, 1968. On that day I was with my my older (rakugo) brother, Kosome, who has since passed away. We were doing “stereo rakugo” (rakugo done in conte-style back-and-forth; the story was Daishoya [The Scribe]) at the Kyoto Kagetsu Theater. When I informed Kosome that our master was gravely ill, he told me, “I’ll do the show by myself, you get to the hospital.” Thanks to him I was able to be with Shishô until the end. I was 18 at the time, but I still remember everything so clearly. Shishô‘s family filled the hospital room, and cried so loudly. I cried alone in the hall, as quitely as I could. I was sad, and suddenly felt all alone.

There’s a place I go whenever something of importance happens in my life. It is the grave space of Somemaru I and II at the temple Isshinji. My own shishô‘s grave is so far away that it’s difficult to make regular visits. Some of his bones are interred at Isshinji, though, so I like to think that all three generations of Somemaru rest here. This is the reason I always visit.

In the photo you can see three tombstones. The one in front on the left is Somemaru I’s. Beside that on the right is Somemaru II’s father’s, who was shinai jôruri performer Okamoto Mikuni-dayû. Somemaru II erected these tombstones. The large tombstone in the back is Somemaru II’s, which my shishô erected. Whenever I take on a new pupil, or whenever something big happens in my life, I have to come here to make the announcement. Also during Ohigan and Obon, or just whenever it seems like I should… Yes, I visit quite often. Praying here in silence just gives me a sense of peace, making me feel that I can carry on and do my best.

Today I set out flowers, lit a candle, and prayed with all my heart, “Please continue to closely look over our artistic family.”

May Somemaru III, and the Somemaru’s who preceded him, rest in peace.

Click here for the Somemaru’s post in Japanese.





2 thoughts on “Hayashiya Somemaru III 三代目林家染丸

  1. Somemaru III must have been a great hanashika. Have you had the chance to hear his rakugo from CD, or are there even videos? I remember Beicho or Shijaku mentioning “Master Somemaru” and the audience bursting in laughter, I guess they are refering to Somemaru III. 🙂

    • Thanks Till,
      I haven’t heard much Somemaru III, except when Somemaru IV had it playing in his car. I’ve heard a lot of impersonations, and just have to trust that they all sound like the real deal… ; )

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