Long Valentine’s Weekend ロング・バレンタイン・ウィーケンド

I have been off the radar since last Friday, and I am finally back for a brief update on what turned out to be a memorable, rakugo-filled, long Valentine’s weekend.


Today I went to the afternoon show at the Hanjôtei as I wanted to hear Katsura Fukudanji perform. The lineup was fabulous. Fukudanji’s Kushami kôshaku was an absolute masterpiece, and Hayashiya Somesuke, Shôfukutei Sankyô, and Tokyo rakugoka San’yûtei Utamusashi also gave memorable performances. Two very big names appeared in the iromono slots today: Let’s-Go Shôji did mandan (lit. a comical chat/monologue), and Kimiya Tamago (daughter of the late manzai great Kimi Koishi) performed Onna dôraku, also presenting a rare, almost forgotten form of ongyoku manzai, in which comical narrative is chanted while keeping beat with two miniature mokugyo (lit. wooden fish, a hollow, wooden percussion instrument, a larger version of which is used  by monks during sutra chanting).

After the show I caught Katsura Fukudanji to ask him to sign a copy of his book. Master Fukudanji is Katsura Harudanji III’s #1 deshi, is head of the Kansai Entertainment Guild, and also regularly performs and teaches sign-language rakugo (shuwa rakugo). In addition to his many formal rakugo pupils, he is also head of a large family of sign-language rakugo artists.


Today I went to the Dôrakutei to see Hayashiya Someya perform. He did a fine job with the story Shaku no aigusuri, which, in my opinion, is also one of Somemaru’s best. I also enjoyed very much performances by Katsura Harusame and Shôfukutei Shikaku. As I’ve written previously, I enjoy listening to rakugo at Dôrakutei because it is a much smaller venue, and the distance between hanashika and the audience is therefore lessened. You can really see hanashika at work. You can see every detail of the story, and every drop of sweat.

Typically it is audience members–well to do patrons–who take hanashika out after shows, but after the show today Someya was very kind to take me out for sushi. I felt bad about him paying for such a luxurious meal, which included several drinks, but he insisted, saying I should think of him as my “older-brother” in the Somemaru ichimon. He also said he was concerned that I was spending too much money on rakugo books and not on nutritious food. It was a wonderful treat, indeed!


Someya mentioned at dinner last night that he would be making a guest appearance at Katsura Bunza’s dokuenkai (“one-man show,” for lack of better translation) this evening. I wanted to see Someya perform again, and surely wanted to see my longtime friend Bunza in action, so, off to the Hanjôtei I went, again (Thank you Monbukagakushô).

Needless to say, the show was great. Tonight Someya performed one of his original (sôsaku) pieces, Mitsugu onna, a funny piece inspired by cheesy Japanese soap operas he remembers from his youth. The story is well arranged, and the audience loved it . I tend to prefer older stories, but tonight’s sôsaku was a good one.

I have always respected Bunza as a person, and have long enjoyed his rakugo, but tonight I was convinced that he is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest hanashika in Kamigata rakugo. During the makura of his second story, he spent a good deal of time speaking about the special relationship Katsura Bunshi and Somemaru shared. I appreciated this especially, since these are the two hanashika I have called Shishô. After the makura, Bunza’s rendition of Kushami kôshaku had the audience in stitches. In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard at rakugo as I did tonight. I laughed so hard that I cried, and cried so hard that it hurt.


Last week Somemaru asked half-jokingly, “Matt, are you going to bring me chocolates too?” Without any hesitation, I answered, “Of course.” Well, this evening, I was in the neighborhood, and, remembering it was Valentine’s Day, a promise is a promise. I picked up something sweet and dropped by Somemaru’s house after dinner. He was busy working on something, but he appreciated me remembering just the same. We enjoyed a cup of tea and I was on my way.

Yes, it was a wonderful long Valentine’s weekend.
















Comments コメント

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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