(Rakugo) Kabuki Stories with Scenery, Part II 道具入り芝居噺 その二 

Miya Nobuaki with Hayashiya ShōjakuI was invited yesterday to another special performance and talk featuring Hayashi Shôjaku at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo  (Tokyo bunkazai kennyûjo). The show was once again organized by Tsubouchi Theater Museum research associate, Miya Nobuaki.

Shôjaku performed one subanashi (lit. plain story) and one dôgu iri shibaibanashi (kabuki stories with scenery), which I wrote a bit about in a previous post. The subanashi was a section of Meijin Chōji (Chōji the Master) and the dôgu iri shibaibanashi was Kajikazawa (At the Kajikazawa River). The scenery used for Kajikazawa was beautiful. There was even live (paper) falling snow, which was especially nice on a humid summer day.

Hayashiya Shôjaku during a post-show  interviewI asked Shôjaku how he transports the scenery and so many props and he said that he relies on a professional courier service. Still, putting everything together and packing it up must be a huge undertaking (especially for his deshi). Apparently, his master (Hayashiya Shôzô VIII [1895-1982]) used to load everything onto a handcart and pulled it to shows himself.

Yesterday’s show was another great one. I am looking forward to Shōjaku performing two more times this year at the Tokyo bunkazai kennyûjo, in fall and winter.


Miya Nobuaki with Hayashiya Shôjaku正雀師匠が二席をお演りになりました。一席目は素噺である「名人長二」(仏壇叩きから湯河原)で、二席目は道具入り芝居噺の「鰍沢」でした。(前に芝居噺について少し書いたことがあります。)「鰍沢」の道具ですが、とッても美しかったです。雪(紙)までも降っていました。蒸し暑い夏の日にちょうどよかったです。

The scenery used for the story Kajikazawa非常に多い道具は、どのように運びますかと正雀師匠に聞いてみました。毎回宅急便会社にお願いしているとおっしゃっていました。それにしても、準備も片づけも大仕事に違いません(弟子さんもおつかれさまです)。正雀師匠の師匠(八代目林家正蔵 1895-1982)が道具を手車に乗せて、寄席まで自分で引っ張っていたそうです。汗


Waseda Yose わせだ寄席

83rd Waseda YoseYesterday I went to listen to rakugo at the 83rd Waseda Yose.

According to the Waseda University Rakugo Research Club’s (Waseda daigaku rakugo kenkyû kai) official homepage, the club has hosted one to two professional rakugo shows a year since 1954, in hopes of sharing the fun of rakugo with students. Originally called the Rakugo Kenkyû Kai, the show was later renamed Waseda Yose.

83rd Waseda Yose lineup

I could see that the Waseda Yose is a full-fledged yose program, and seats at the 83rd show were just about packed. There were four rakugo performances and one iromono act. The entire program was entertaining, but the best of all was Katsura Nankyô’s (a rakugo veteran of 50 years) telling of the story “Belly Drum” (Taiko bara).

Wonderful show, everyone!





Another Old Name Renewed: Bun’nosuke もう一つ名跡復活、文之助

Bun'nosuke III. Photo property of Rakuten Tickets (.co.jp)Daily Sports ran the following article today:

Katsura Jakumatsu Becomes Katsura Bun’nosuke III

On October 6, Kamigata rakugoka Katsura Jakumatsu (57) took the name Katsura Bun’nosuke III. To mark the occasion he appeared in a name ascension ceremony and performance in Osaka. This is the first time the name Katsura Bun’nosuke has been used in 83 years. Katsura Bun’nosuke III commented on his goals after the show: “I want to keep practicing, and bring a new presence of mind to the stage.”

In addition to other members of the Katsura Beichô school¹ being present during the opening address (kôjô), Kamigata Rakugo Association Chairperson Katsura Bunshi and Vice Chairperson Shôfukutei Tsurube were also on hand. Bunshi told the audience, “He is a dexterous and versatile entertainer who can perform both the classics and original pieces.  I look forward to him furthering the greatness of this name.”


桂雀松 「桂文之助」三代目を襲名



¹ Bun’nosuke III is a pupil of the late Katsura Shijaku, who was Katsura Beichô direct pupil. 三代文之助は故桂枝雀の弟子で、枝雀は桂米朝の直弟子。Article 記事へ

New Town 新しい町

Fox & CatI am getting settled in Tokyo. I love my new place and neighborhood. Over the past few days I have explored the area on foot. Here are a few pictures I took in the Nezu area and beyond.

On Saturday I walked to Yanaka, Ueno Park, Ochanomizu, Akihabara, Kanda Jinbochô, then back to Nezu, covering a distance of almost 10 miles (16km)! I will be able to cover more ground once I have a bike.

Rakugo CafeIn Jinbochô I stopped by the Rakugo Cafe, which was closed for preparations for an evening rakugo show. It was posted that there were still tickets available, so I inquired about the price. ¥2500 (about $25). Too expensive for such a small venue, and only two hanashika performing. It seems that rakugo is getting more expensive with each passing year. Great for hanashika, too bad for regular folks.

On my way home, I stopped for tonkatsu teishoku (pork cutlets served with rice, miso soup, and Japanese pickles) and a bottle of Kirin beer. Half the price of the rakugokai, just no laughs.

Loving Tokyo so far.

Nezu 1-chôme東京の生活にどんどん落ち着いてきました。新しい部屋も近所も、とても気に入っています。数日前から、散歩をして街を冒険しています。撮った写真を何枚かお見せしましょう。


Hongo 5-chôme神保町でらくごカフェ(上)に寄ってみましたが、落語会の準備で閉まっていた。当日券はまだあったので、スタフにその値段を聞いてみたら、なんと2500円だと。小さい会場、そして二人会には少々高いですね… 年を追うごとに落語が高くなっている気がします。噺家にはとてもいいことですが、大衆には残念。



Beichô Jûhachiban 米朝十八番

Beichô jûhachiban flyerWhen I am in Japan, one of my favorite pastimes is browsing in used book stores. I am always on the lookout for old books about rakugo and related subjects.

Sometimes these old books come with little treasures, for instance, notes and letters written by rakugo fans, scholars, and even hanashika. Sometimes I also find old yose tickets and show flyers (chirashi).

On my last trip to Japan I went hunting for old books in Kanda. In one of my purchases I found a chirashi for one of Katsura Beichô III’s (1925-, Living National Treasure) solo showcases (dokuenkai), a six-day series titled Beichô jûhachiban (Beichô’s [Best] Eighteen).

Thereon, a young and handsome Beichô appears in four close-up shots. According to the chirashi, he performed three different stories each night, six nights in a row. Two pupils (also listed) appeared with him at each show. The venue was Sankei Hall (Nishi-Umeda, Osaka), and shows were July 3 – 9. Unfortunately, the year is not listed. I wonder what year this was…

Tickets for these shows cost ¥1000 or ¥800, and an all-show pass was available for ¥5400.

A rather interesting find.