Hikohachi Matsuri 2011 第21回彦八まつり

After returning to the US in 2005, it took five long years to be able to return to Japan, and to once again enjoy the excitement of the Hikohachi Matsuri. Ironically, Hikohachi Matsuri 2011 was almost called off due to Typhoon #12 (Talas). In fact, for the first time in its 21-year history, the first day was cancelled.

Despite this, Somemaru had his group of hanashika and ohayashi performers practice Sumiyoshi odori the day before as planned. This is a popular set of dances they perform every year at the festival. I attended practice and went home with Somemaru and a few others to help with further preparations, in hopes that the second day would not be cancelled.

Fortunately, while rain was still in the forecast, day two of the Hikohachi Masturi was held as scheduled. I got up, put on my yukata, and headed for the Ikutama Shrine with umbrella in hand.

Last time I was in Japan, I left shortly following the death of Katsura Bunshi V, in 2005. I was quite grief stricken because he was the man I called Shishô for the previous three years. The Kamigata Rakugo world was in pain because it had lost one of its giants. But we had many reasons to celebrate his life. Bunshi, along with a number of others, had accomplished so much. In the course of his life, the Kamigata Rakugo Association had been formed, hanashika numbers had increased dramatically, the art experienced several major booms, the Hikohachi Matsuri was launched, and the list goes on. Shortly after Bunshi died, one of his remaining dreams was realized; Kamigata Rakugo received its first permanent home in the post World War II era, the Tenman Tenjin Hanjôtei. Thanks to this, Kamigata Rakugo experienced yet another boom, still continuing today.

Today Hikohachi Matsuri 2011 was held in the usual place, on the grounds of Ikutama Shrine, in Osaka. I went to help at Somemaru’s “rakugo family” (ichimon) booth, but I made sure to stop by Bunshi’s, where I found some of his pupils cooking the legendary dish that he fed them while in training over the years, which he himself also cooked at the Hikohachi Matsuri in years past: yaki udon (fried and seasoned udon noodles topped with a fried egg, soft yolk).

I have made and eaten yaki udon with Bunshi in the past, so it was wonderful to visit the Bunshi booth again today and enjoy that nostalgic flavor. It made me happy to see that his pupils also had a portrait of Bunshi hanging inside the booth. It was as if Bunshi was there with all of us in spirit.

From morning until night I helped the Somemaru ichimon at their booth, calling out to festival-goers and fans, inviting them to try their luck at winning big prizes by pulling tickets from a fish bowl. With the group I banged on drums and rang bells all day. “Come one, come all! One try, one hundred yen!” We had so much fun even though we were rained on throughout the day, on and off. The crowds were wonderful. They didn’t let the rain dampen the festival atmosphere one bit.

Of course it was great to see Somemaru take the stage with his group at 12:30.  Though it was raining just before hand, the sun breifly came out for their performance. This allowed an even larger crowd to gather around the stage.

Despite the stage being wet, and everybody’s white tabi getting soaked, all dances went well. A couple people couldn’t help slipping, but there were no major accidents. Somemaru’s pupil, Emimaru, was even able to do a backflip in his dance as planned.

Indeed, it was wonderful to be back at the Hikohachi Matsuri, a festival put on by hanashika to be able to spend time brushing shoulders with fans outside of the yose, to personally thank them for their patronage throughout the year.

After closing Somemaru’s booth, we changed out of our yukata and said goodbye for the evening. I stuck around a little longer to enjoy Katsura Ayame and Hayashiya Somejaku (a.k.a. comedy duo Anesama Kingusu), et al, perform to a “packed house” in their booth-turned-mini theater.

I could go on and on about what a fun and memorable day it was, but I will let some more pictures do the talking (at bottom). I hope to see you all at the Hikohachi Matsuri in the years to come!














2 thoughts on “Hikohachi Matsuri 2011 第21回彦八まつり

  1. マットさん こんばんは
    『真人』さん だったんですね 失礼しました。
    私のブログの訪問 ありがとうございます。
    真人さんの落語に 対する 思いが これほど深いとは!
    驚き 感動してます
    英語の勉強にもなりますので 時々 訪問させてください

    • きょうこさん、
      僕の英語も日本語もまだまだ未熟もので、いろいろなこともこれから勉強しないといけません… ブログに対したことを書きませんが、いつでも寄ってください。コメントはどうもありがとうございました。

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