Tanabe Yose 田辺寄席

Today I went to listen to rakugo at the Tanabe Yose. Though it was my first time, this chiiki yose was holding its 595th and 596th shows this afternoon and evening. The Tanabe Yose, which puts on monthly shows and has changed venues a couple of times, has been making audiences laugh for  some 38 years. This is the “home ground” of Katsura Bunta, and it would seem that many people in the audience are also longtime regulars. Indeed it was a very friendly, family-like atmosphere, and tea and snacks were even served in the garden during intermission.

I am glad that I arrived early, because people soon filled seats in anticipation for Bunta’s pre-show talk. Ten minutes before each show, Bunta comes out for a short set called Kaikô zeroban, a play on the rakugo story Kaikô ichiban. Today, perhaps because he heard a non-Japanese was in the audience, he began by sharing jokes from around the world, including countries such as America, England, India, China, and even Iran. He performed jokes in rakugo style, showing how humor in the world is often universal (if not similar to rakugo).

Bunta performed the story Hyôgo bune, which was fabulous. Today’s special guest was Shôfukutei Kakushi, who was also great in the two stories he performed, Hettsui nusutto and Hana ikada.

The first Tanabe Yose show was held in September 1974 on the third floor of Akatsuki Pan, a bakery not far from Minami Tanabe Station. This remained the venue for but a year since there wasn’t enough space for all the people who wanted in, and the stairs, too steep for elderly yose-goers, also presented a problem. From there the Tanabe Yose was moved to the Abeno Youth Center, where it remained for many years.

The Tanabe Yose was founded by a large group of local citizens who loved rakugo and wanted to listen to rakugo regularly in their own community. The yose was formed at a time when hanashika were at pains to find venues they could regularly perform at. From the beginning there were around eighty people at every show, and high attendance continued at the Tanabe Yose even after the 1970s rakugo boom ended. It is safe to say that most Kamigata hanashika have performed at this venue at least once.

With each show, organizers also distribute a free newspaper titled Yoriai zake (named after a rakugo story). In addition to Tanabe Yose-related news, Yoriai zake also has regular articles on Osaka history, interesting culture, and even the air raids during World War II.

Today attendance remains high, with close to 200 people attending each show. Attendance numbers suddenly rose following the Hanshin Awaji Megaquake of 1995, and this is no doubt thanks to the Tanabe Yose’s volunteer efforts, which included putting together and donating backpacks with relief supplies and putting on charity outreach rakugo shows at ground zero. Apparently, a number of quake victims continue to this day as regulars in the audience.

Today the Tanabe Yose is at home in the Momogaike Citizen’s Activity Center (shimin katsudô sentâ, JR Minami Tanabe Station, or Tanabe Station on the subway). If you would like to enjoy a wonderful community yose experience, please do visit the Tanabe Yose. Be sure to make reservations and plan to arrive a little arrive early.

Finally, I would like to mention a unique exhibit of yose models by Medaru Kôbô on display in the lobby. This is quite interesting, so be sure to take a look!

今日、田辺寄席まで落語を聴きに行きました。僕は初めてでしたが、今日の昼席と寄席は田辺寄席の第595回と第596回目でした。月一回のペースで38年を渡って地域に笑いを広げている田辺寄席で、レギュラーの桂文太師匠のホームグランドと言ってもいいでしょう。客席にも長年の常連もたくさんいらっしゃるそうです。田辺寄席で吸う空気がとてもフレンドリーで、あそこにいる皆さんが本当に家族のように感じました。中入りになると、外の庭でお茶とおかきのサービスまでもありました。(ご馳走さまでした。)

やはり、今日、早く着いてよかったです。開演10分前に行われる文太師匠のトーク「開口ゼロ番」(落語のネタ「開口一番」にかけている)を楽しみにしている客がたくさん来場し、早いこといっぱいになりました。外国人も客席に来ていると聞いたからか、今日の「開口ゼロ番」の内容は世界の笑い話でした。文太師匠がそれぞれの国(アメリカ、イギリス、インド、中国、イランまでも)の笑い話を落語風に演じ、世界のユーモアはそんなに変わらない(または落語に似ている)というおもしろいトークでした。

今日、文太師匠が素敵な「兵庫船」を聴かせてくださいました。フィーチャーされていた笑福亭鶴志師匠の二席「へっつい盗人」と「花筏」も大変よかったです。

田辺寄席の第一回は昭和49年の9月で、南田辺駅の暁パンの3階で行われました。ここで一年続けたのだが、お客さんも入りきれなくなり、また、階段も急でお年寄りにも負担が大きく、阿倍野青年センターに引っ越しました。

世話役は大体15人位で、落語が好きだから、自分たちの街にで落語を聴きたいから寄席を建てようという熱心なグループです。1970年代の落語ブームと言われるものが去った後もお客さんは毎回なんと80人位のまま。田辺寄席と言えば、上方落語にとって大変大切な寄席で、上方の噺家のほぼ全てがこの高座にあがっているでしょう。

「寄合酒」という機関紙を毎回発行し、そこには田辺寄席のことだけではなく、大阪の歴史や隠れた文化、戦争での空襲のことなども紹介されている。

現在もお客さんが多く、毎回200人に近づく数。阪神淡路大震災の後、一挙にお客さんが増えたそうです。大震災の数日後に田辺寄席のグループがリュックに物資を詰め込んで被災地に入った。あそこでチャリティーで出張田辺寄席までも行ったそうです。今でも被災地から聴きに来てくれる方もおられるそうです。

2012年現在、田辺寄席が桃ヶ池市民活動センター(JR南田辺駅・地下鉄田辺駅)で月一回行われています。とても良いコミュニティーの地域寄席を経験したい方には、田辺寄席は僕の薦めです。予約して少し早く着くようにね!

最後ですが、目樽工房さんの寄席モデルの展示がロビーにあり、これもとてもよかったので、ぜひ見てください。

「んなあほな」創刊号も参考に使わせていただきました。

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