(Rakugo) Kabuki Stories with Scenery, Part I 道具入り芝居噺 その一

One basic way Kamigata rakugo is different from Tokyo rakugo is that stories in the former regularly include various music and instrumental sound effects (e.g., patting drum with soft mallet for the sound of falling snow). This is especially true for travel stories (tabibanashi) and kabuki-inspired stories (shibaibanashi). Tokyo rakugo is, on the whole, performed without music — stories that have music are often adaptations of Kamigata pieces.

Dôgu iri shibaibanashi backdropThere is an exception to this rule, however. There is an old Tokyo tradition called “kabuki stories with scenery” (dôgu iri shibaibanashi), which is full of hayashi music and authentic kabuki scenes. This is a form of rakugo, but the aim is not necessarily make audiences laugh; the goal is to impress. In this art hanashika implement curtains and colorfully painted backdrops to create a more authentic kabuki atmosphere. These painted backdrops remind one of the (much smaller) illustrated boards used in Japanese “paper drama” (kamishibai). Dôgu iri shibaibanashi even have quick onstage costume changes (hayagawari) and “men in black” (kuroko) to assist, usually the hanashika‘s own pupils. Hanashika do not sit on cushions (zabuton) for these stories because they move around a great deal, frequently rising to their knees.

Storytellers have been adapting kabuki material and doing impressions of kabuki actors since the middle of the seventeenth century. San’yûtei Enshô I (1768-1838) was likely the first hanashika to perform shibaibanashi in yose, in 1797.  Dôgu iri shibaibanashi date at least to the turn of the nineteenth century when they were introduced by Kingentei Bashô I (d. 1838). Because the shogunate viewed kabuki as a threat, shibaibanashi were often regulated.¹

Hayashiya Shôjaku performing dôgu iri shibaibanashi

There are very few people who perform dōgu iri shibaibanashi today. Hayashi Shôjaku, a pupil of Hayashiya Shôzô VIII (1895-1982), may be the only recognized master of the art

I was fortunate to be invited yesterday to a special performance and talk featuring Shôjaku at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo  (Tokyo bunkazai kennyûjo). The show was organized by an acquaintance and Tsubouchi Theater Museum research associate, Miya Nobuaki.

I had previously read about dōgu iri shibaibanashi, but, needless to say, I got a great deal more from seeing Shōjaku perform live. Different from regular shibaibanashi (i.e., without scenery, etc.) I have heard in Tokyo and especially Osaka, the tone of Shôjaku’s story was decidedly serious and there was no punch line (ochi), which is common for this genre. Dôgu iri shibaibanashi felt like true one-man kabuki as opposed to a kabuki parody, which is generally the case with regular shibaibanashi.

I still know very little about dôgu iri shibaibanashi, so I look forward to seeing Shôjaku perform this rare art again in the near future.

(Rakugo) Kabuki Stories with Scenery, Part II 


Hayashiya Shôjaku performing dôgu iri shibaibanashi


噺家(舌耕者)は17世紀の半ばごろから歌舞伎の内容(声色など)を取り入れているそうです。初代三遊亭円生 (1768-1838) が寛政9(1797) 年に寄席で芝居噺を披露したのが最初と見られます。道具入り芝居噺の場合、初代金原亭馬生 (没年1838)が最初に道具を芝居噺に取り入れたので、19世紀の始めからあったものと考えられます。幕府が歌舞伎を脅威と見なしたためか、芝居噺もよく政令を発せられました。¹

今日現在、道具入り芝居噺を演る噺家は非常に少ないです。故八代目林家正蔵師匠 (彦六, 1895-1982) の弟子である林家正雀師匠はその第一人者です。

Miya Nobuaki with Hayashiya Shôjaku




道具入り芝居噺 その二

¹(参考) See shibaibanashi in Heinz Morioka and Miyoko Sasaki, Rakugo: The Popular Narrative Art of Japan (Cambridge: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, 1990).


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