Hayashiya Somemaru IV
Professional hanashika experience
45 years (as of August 27, 2011)
Previous artistic name
Hayashiya Someji II
Date of birth
October 10, 1949 (Shôwa 24)
Place of birth
Debayashi (entrance song)
Shôfuda tsuki (Price Tag Attached)
Artistic family crest
Nu no ji usagi (rabbit resembling the hiragana character nu)
13 rakugo, 7 ohayashi (listed below)
Kamigata Rakugo Association (currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors and as Director of Education)
With a firm grounding in the arts of shamisen and Nihon buyô (traditional dance), Somemaru’s forte is lively rakugo filled with ohayashi music. Somemaru’s repertoire is a large one that includes stories of the ongyoku (musical), kokkei (comical), and ninjôbanashi (dramatic, lit. human emotion) varieties, among others.
In addition to performing stories that his artistic ancestors made popular (e.g., Fugu nabe, Kagekiyo, Tabako no hi, etc.), he also regularly performs many other Kamigata Rakugo “classics” (e.g., Ukare no kuzu yori, Tako shibai, Ko wa kasugai, Rinki no koma, Nedoko, Neko no shishin, Sanjukkoku, Toyotakeya, etc.). Somemaru is also known to treat audiences to stories rarely heard anymore (e.g., Chabin nezuri, Goryô nokoshi, Menya kaji, Unagi dani, etc.).
Somemaru strongly believes the study of other traditional Japanese arts makes hanashika better entertainers, and therefore has reared members of his artistic family so they may both perform professional rakugo and continue as the “heirs” of Kamigata Rakugo yose music. He also teaches and performs with his pupils traditional dance numbers (e.g., Sumiyoshi odori, Matsu zukushi) at events such as the Hikohachi matsuri, the largest annual Kamigata Rakugo festival, held during the first weekend in September.
Somemaru can be heard performing regularly at the Tenma Tenjin Hanjôtei (yose) and at Yoshimoto-operated Kagetsu Theaters, and also all over Japan in touring shows and public lectures. Somemaru has for years served as a lecturer at high schools and universities, hoping to convey to Japan’s youth the enjoyment rakugo has to offer. If you would like to listen to Somemaru’s rakugo, check for upcoming performances on his Official Site, or his Profile on the Hanjôtei site.
Rakugo timeline (chronological order)
1966: Quits high school to apprentice with the professional hanashika Hayashiya Somemaru III (1906-68) and is given the name Hayashiya Someji II.
1968: Somemaru III passes away.
1974: Contracts with Yoshimoto and begins gaining popularity as the shamisen-virtuoso hanashika.
1984: “Older-brother” pupil Hayashiya Kosome IV (1947-84) passes away, leaving Someji II as the sole member of the Somemaru III artistic family.
1989: Receives a Gold Medal at the 18th Kamigata Comedy Awards (第18回「上方お笑い大賞」金賞受賞).
1990: Receives the Incentive Award at the Osaka Culture Festival (「大阪文化祭賞」奨励賞受賞).
1990: Receives the Incentive Award at the Osaka Prefectural Theater Arts Awards (「大阪府民劇場賞」奨励賞受賞).
1991: Recognized as a Person of Cultural Importance, receiving the Award for the Advancement of Art by a Newcomer at the 42nd Ministry of Education & Culture Arts Awards (第42回「芸術選奨文部大臣賞」新人賞受賞).
1991: Bestowed with the artistic name Hayashiya Somemaru IV.
1994: Awarded a Prize at 49th Arts Festival (第49回「芸術祭賞」受賞).
2001: Awarded a Prize at the Osaka Culture Festival (「大阪文化祭賞」受賞).
2006: Awarded the Grand Prize for Entertainment at the 61st Agency of Cultural Affairs Arts Festival (「第61回芸術祭演芸部門大賞」受賞).
2007: Serves as supervising editor and actor trainer for the NHK morning drama series Chiri-tote-chin. Also plays the character “Man’yôtei Ryûhô.”
2008: Receives Special Honors from the City of Osaka (大阪市民表彰).
2010: Recognized as a Person of Cultural Importance, receiving the Award for the Advancement of Art at the 60th Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology Arts Awards (「第６０回芸術選奨文部科学大臣賞」受賞).
2013: Receives the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon (紫綬褒章) from the Government of Japan, in the name of the Emperor.
Selected publications & media (from most recent)
Kamigata rakugo: yosebayashi no sekai [The World of Kamigata Rakugo Yose Music]. Osaka: Sôgensha, 2011 (includes history and commentary; 4 CDs with over 200 songs; sheet music for shamisen).
Kamigata hanashi: Hayashiya Somemaru no sekai [Kamigata Stories: The World of Hayashiya Somemaru]. Osaka: Yoshimoto Works, 2008 (349 minutes, region 2, 3-DVD anthology with interview & commentary booklet).
Heisei kôbai tei tokusen rakugokai: Kamigata rakugo no shinzui ôgosho no kai [Heisei Red Plum Pavillion Special Rakugo Selections: Essential Kamigata Rakugo from Influential Figures]. Tokyo: Pony Canyon, 2004 (151min., region 2. Somemaru IV is one of several featured hanashika. Disc 3 in 3 DVD anthology).
Itsumo seishun zutto seishun: Shôfukutei Matsunosuke bunsho [Always Young, Forever Young: Dictated Teachings of Shôfukutei Matsunosuke] Osaka: Nenshôsha, 2000.
Kamigata rakugo saijiki [Kamigata Rakugo Seasonal Almanac] Osaka: Nenshôsha, 1999.
Formal rakugo pupils (deshi, all use the artistic family name Hayashiya, written using the kanji characters 林家)
1. Someji III 2. Usagi 3. Somesuke 4. Hanamaru 5. Somejaku 6. Someya 7. Takemaru 8. Someza 9. Emimaru 10. Usaburo 11. Someta 12. Somekichi 13. Aisome
Hanashika in Somemaru IV’s extended artistic family (i.e., those who also use the name Hayashiya, 林家)
1. Kosome V 2. Ichirô 3. Somehachi (Kosome V’s deshi)
Formal ohayashi (shamisen) pupils (these pupils, all women, have been given the family name Hayashiya, though it is written using the hiragana syllabary [はやしや], not kanji)
1. Hisako 2. Shinko 3. Ritsuko 4. Miki 5. Kinuyo 6. Kaho 7. Yukiko