Waiting for Slow Cargo Ships 低速貨物船待ち

Before I moved home to Oregon, I shipped home all the books that I collected while in Japan. The woman at the post office told me it would take one to three months for them to arrive. This is a long time, but sending them by slow ship saved me more than $1000USD, compared to going with FedEx, etc. That’s me I guess, always trying to save a buck… After I sent them, I checked the tracking number online just about every day, wondering if they would EVER arrive.

And here we are, today, almost two months later.

My books arrived!! Well, two out of three boxes did anyway. When I inquired with the employee at my neighborhood post office, she put me at ease by saying, “Oh, that’s normal. The last box should be here by next week.”

One thing that I am extremely happy about is that the most important book (my personal treasure) arrived with today’s delivery. I even made my parents hold it and pose for a picture…

All right, now I’m really ready to get down to business with my writing!

(I just hope that last box arrives without a hitch…)








Off to Tokyo これから東京へ

I will be taking a short research trip to Tokyo, beginning today. My list of places to visit includes:

  1. “Old Book Town” in Jinbôchô
  2. Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University
  3. At least a couple yose
If I find anything especially interesting, I will be sure take photos and make mini-posts from my iPhone.
Since I will be away from my desk for several days, here are the “TODAY’S KOTOWAZA” for the period I’ll be gone:
  • January 28: 白羽の矢が立つ (shiraha no ya ga tatsu)。Arrows with white feathers stand out (i.e., special ones will be chosen).
  • January 29: 人の噂も七十五日 (hito no uwasa mo shichi jû go nichi)。Rumors last but 75 days (i.e., don’t lose sleep over them)
  • January 30: 人を謀れば人に謀らる (hito o hakareba hito ni hakararu)。Conspire against others and they will conspire against you.
  • January 31: 捨てる神あれば拾う神あり (suteru kami areba hirô kami ari)。If there is a god to throw you out, there is a god to pick you up (i.e., when one door shuts, another opens).
  • February 1: 念には念を入れよ (nen ni wa nen o ireyo)。Put precaution into your precaution.

Let’s give a big hand to MARK J. in Sydney, Australia for this week’s “SENRYÛ OF THE WEEK”! 

  • The month of flowers / color of red plum blossoms / I come from the bath.  花の月紅梅ごとき湯上がりや (ume no tsuki kôbai gotoki yu agari ya)。¹

Nice work Mark! 

Edo (old Tokyo), here I come!

¹ The Japanese translation is my own.


  1. 神保町の古本街
  2. 坪内逍遥記念演劇博物館
  3. 取り合えず、寄席二席ほど
しばらく机の近くに居られないので、東京に居る間の「TODAY’S KOTOWAZA」をここに (上 ↑) アップさせていただきます。

今週の「THIS WEEK’S SENRYÛ」はオストラリアのシドニー市に住んでいるマークJ.さんに届けていただきました。

  • The month of flowers / color of red plum blossoms / I come from the bath.  花の月紅梅ごとき湯上がりや (ume no tsuki kôbai gotoki yu agari ya)。¹

マークさん、ナイスジョッブ & ありがとうございました!


¹ 日本語訳は僕のです。

Books and Candles 本と蠟燭

When I’m not at Somemaru’s, this is my life at home…

There’s not much that can top books and candles as it gets colder, and winter draws near.

Okay, maybe there are a lot of things that are just as good.

Family, friends, live rakugo…

Yeah, I think I’ll go listen to rakugo tomorrow.

There’s a free show right in my neighborhood, put on once a month. It just so happens that November’s show is tomorrow.






“Kamigata hanashi” 「上方はなし」

I have been saving for months, and today was the day…

Yes, I finally got it.

The centerpiece for my collection of rakugo books.

Those who know Kamigata Rakugo already know what I’m referring to. Those who don’t, well, this is a must-have if your doing serious work on Kamigata Rakugo. (Wait, is that an oxymoron?)

Okay, here it is, one of just 1000 sets:

Shôfukutei Shokaku V, ed., Kamigata hanashi (vols. 1-2). Tokyo: San’ichi shobô, 1971-2.

Really, I still can’t believe I got it. I came straight home after buying it, put it on my bookshelf, and have just been looking at it from across the room…

(Jeez, what did I get it for, decoration?!)

I’ll start reading tonight after dinner. (Yeah!)






五代目笑福亭 松鶴編、「上方はなし」(上下).昭和46-47  東京:三一書房




A Look at Tokyo Rakugo Culture Outside the Yose 寄席外東京落語の文化一見

I recently spent about a week in Tokyo and had a very nice time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to a yose to listen to Tokyo rakugo, but I was still able to feel a sense of local pride in the art. I came across a number of places or things, all somewhat removed from yose, that exhibited rakugo and its culture.

In Ningyô-chô I found a clock tower, which puts on a lively karakuri ningyô puppet display on the hour. The “show” is hosted by a hanashika puppet that dawns a kimono and kneels on a zabuton just above eye-level, telling a brief story about rakugo and the history of the neighborhood. At the top of the clock are several names in yose gaki (yose-style calligraphy) of famous Tokyo hanashika of past generations. Below the names, puppets — characters from rakugo stories — come out in place of cuckoos.

Not far from the rakugo clock I found a rakugo barber shop. From the outside one can hardly tell that inside the owner always has rakugo running on cassette tapes, CDs, VHS tapes or DVDs. I went inside to ask him about this and he said he’s been playing rakugo for customers for a number of years. Of course, he loves rakugo too. He prefers Tokyo rakugo, but also has a some Kamigata hanashika media on hand.

Since I collect books on rakugo, I spent a couple days browsing the famous Kanda used-book mall, which is spread out over several blocks. I had a great time and found a lot of great books, all at reasonable prices. In the back of one shop, I discovered a rakugo cafe, which has it’s own rakugo kôza for hosting small-scale rakugo shows on Tuesdays. Unfortunately, the cafe was closed the day I was passing through. Still, from the outside I could tell that the owner must be a huge rakugo fan. In addition to the kôza, there were about a hundred tenugui tacked to the ceiling, and numerous publications on rakugo available for browsing. I’ll have to go back next time to see if there is any rakugo food on the menu.

Finally, in one used-book store that specializes in rakugo books (and, interestingly, Christian books), I was given a copy of Tokyo kawaraban, a monthly that has promoted and reviewed rakugo in Tokyo since July of 1977. The June 2011 issue has 118 pages and is filled with interesting essays, interviews, pictures, show listings, reviews, etc. Truly, this is a fabulous resource for Tokyo rakugo fans and first-timers alike.