Not Going to Buy “Beichô Rakugo Anthology – Updated” 僕は「米朝落語全集 増補改訂版」を買いません

Flyer for "Beichô Rakugo Anthology - Updated"  SôgenshaI’m not going to buy it, but I would happily accept it as a gift.

In October I posted an article titled Katsura Beichô and the Kamigata Rakugo Miracle, in which I shared news about the sudden cancellation of  Horî Ken’ichirô’s book (Kôdansha) with the same title. The sudden cancellation seemed suspicious at the time, but even more so when I learned that the publisher Sôgensha was planning to release in November an updated version of Beichô’s multi-volume rakugo anthology, Beichô rakugo zenshû (1980, 2013). Each volume will cost ¥4,500, or ¥36,000 (plus tax) for all eight volumes.

When I was in Osaka in November, I stopped by the bookstore Junkudô to take a look. Sôgensha has improved the design of the anthology greatly, and having stories in alphabetical order will make looking up stories easier, but it is not clear how many new stories are to be included in the new version of the anthology. Based on the first two volumes that have been released, there will not be many. In the short 11-line preface to the updated version, Beichô points out that the main addition to the anthology is a “collection of rare stories” (chinpinshû) that he did not have in time for the original publication, and some original rakugo he wrote with he was a young man. Since 8 volumes are planned instead of the original seven, it is safe to say there will be about a volume of new material. Telling by the flyer for the anthology, most of the new content will  appear in volume eight.

contents of updated Beichô rakugo zenshû

I recently did some work on the story “The Sneezy Teller of War Tales” (Kusshami kôshaku). The transcriptions published in the 1980 and 2013 versions are exactly the same, and nothing new is added to the 33-year-old commentary (kaisetsu). Illustrations in the book are also the same.

In my opinion, since most material in the first two volumes is simply reproduced, the updated version feels anything but new. One can still find a complete set of the original anthology in used bookstores for less than ¥10,000.

While it is not clear if the release of the updated version of Beichô’s most substantial work had anything to do with the cancellation of Horî Ken’ichirô’s Katsura Beichô and the Kamigata Rakugo Miracle, the nearly simultaneous timing of the cancellation and release of the new Beichô rakugo zenshû causes one to wonder about the politics and economics in the rakugo and publishing worlds.

Beichô rakugo zenshû for sale at Junkudô (Osaka Nanba)僕は買いませんが、プレゼントでしたら喜んでいただきます。

10月に「桂米朝と上方落語の奇蹟」という記事で、堀井憲一郎さんの同題名の著書(講談社)の突然の中止というニュースについて書きました。突然の中止だったので、少々疑わしかったのですが、創元社が11月に「米朝落語全集  増補改訂版  全八巻」(各巻4,500円・全巻36,000円+税)を刊行すると分かったとき、より不思議に思いました。

11月に大阪にいたとき、ジュンク堂に寄って「増補改訂版」を見てみました。重厚なデザインとともに、中身も噺を50音順に配列し、調べやすくなっています。ですが、新しく収録された噺が、何席あるのかはまだ明らかではありません。第一、二巻を見てみると、追加された噺はそんなになさそうです。「増補改訂版」の短い11行の前書きには、米朝師匠 (88) が「初版時には間に合わなかった珍品集や、… 若い時に書いた新作落語の原稿も」含めているとお書きになりました。初版が全七巻、今回の「増補改訂版」が全八巻の予定で、内容的には一巻分が増えると言っていいでしょう。説明書きを読む限り、新しい内容は第八巻に多くありそうです。


個人的な意見ですが、「増補改訂版」一巻、二巻は初版の内容の繰り返しが多いため、内容に新鮮さを全く感じません。ちなみに、あちらこちらの古本屋で「米朝落語全集」の初版 (揃) は1万円も払わずに手に入ります。

上方の根多数が最も多い「米朝落語全集  増補改訂版  全八巻」の刊行が、堀井憲一郎さんの著書「桂米朝と上方落語の奇蹟」の出版中止と関係あるかどうかは何とも言えませんが、「増補改訂版」の刊行のタイミングが出版中止とほぼ同じだったので、落語界と出版界の関係やその中の政治的な動きについて疑問に思われても仕方がないかもしれません。


Sanshi’s Feelings of Guilt 三枝の罪悪感

Last night before going to bed I read the forward to Katsura Sanshi’s recent book, Shishô, godaime Bunshi e (To My Master, Bunshi V [Yoshimoto Bukkusu, 2012]).

In the course of eleven pages, Sanshi recalls his wildly successful career as a radio and TV “tarento” (personality/star), but asks why his master Bunshi V (1930-2005) ever allowed him to follow such a path. More specifically, he wonders why Bunshi told him to go (itte koi) to the broadcasting company in the first place.

It soon becomes clear Sanshi is filled with guilt since he got his big break so soon after entering the artistic school of Bunshi. Despite the fact he was associated with Bunshi longer than most of Bunshi’s other pupils, Sanshi knows Bunshi the least.

Sanshi is filled with guilt because he will soon take the name of a Kamigata rakugo giant– his master –but he hardly knows the man who preceded him. In an attempt to know Bunshi better, to give readers a sense that he has support from those who knew Bunshi best, and perhaps to relieve his guilt, Sanshi interviews those who learned from Bunshi. The interviews make up the bulk of the book.

Toward the end of the forward Sanshi writes, “Considering the fact that my classic-loving (koten-ha) master did an original story (sôsaku) at the end [of his career/life], could he have been showing his support for my [adherence to] original rakugo? Was he giving me his approval? By taking on such a new challenge could he have been saying, ‘You keep going, and don’t worry about a thing’?”

It is doubtful Sanshi has any concerns about ascending to an artistic name that goes back more than 150 years, but he clearly feels guilty about taking the name of his master. Whatever the case, Sanshi’s interpretation of Bunshi’s decision to compose the original story “Kumano môde” at Mie and Kumano prefectures’ joint request as a last-ditch attempt to convey to Sanshi his approval strikes me as self-serving, egotistical, and unfortunate. But perhaps this is what Sanshi needs to tell himself to relieve such guilt.

Indeed, Sanshi went to the broadcasting company as his master told him to shortly after beginning his apprenticeship, but Sanshi went off and over time failed to return, which was also implied when Bunshi said itte koi (go and come back). Sanshi made his priority making it in the world of mass media entertainment.

It is not impossible to make a good living on rakugo alone, but, perhaps one cannot blame Sanshi since there was so much more money to be had in radio and TV. Still, the fact remains, Sanshi did not return to complete a formal apprenticeship with Bunshi, and, consequently, Sanshi never became the hanashika his master expected. Perhaps this is where Sanshi’s guilt late in life derives from, particularly in the months and days before he takes his masters name.

Tonight it’s on to Chapter One.

Here is my review of the book.











Sanshi: “I, the fact is, have been blessed.” 三枝:「僕は 恵まれたと言うことです」

On July 17, Sanshi posted the following regarding taking the name Katsura Bunshi VI:

More than anything
I’m glad things ended at the Kyôbashi Kagetsu Theater without a hitch.
Just why I want to move from Sanshi to Bunshi
I’ll start with this
These [artistic names]
Along with stories themselves
Transcend time
Connected to artistic schools
They are like family heirlooms 
They are a hanshika’s destiny. This is something one can’t have though they may desire it
The fact is, have been blessed.
This incredible, monumental name
I can but gaze at it  
It feels not like reality.
In time
I can only hope the name begins to fit
Like wearing suits for the first time
At first they never look right
But, but
Pleasing my audiences
Is something I will strive for
By dedicating myself wholly to rakugo.
Look at me in the long run.









Tatekawa Danshi: “Sanshi, you’re a fxxxing idiot!!” 立川談志:「三枝のバカヤローへ」

This just in from Oricon News…


On the 16th at a Tokyo hotel, rakugoka Katsura Sanshi (68) held a press conference to announce that he would be succeeding the name Katsura Bunshi VI. It has been reported that before this day, which marks the beginning of a one year run up to taking the historic Kamigata rakugo name Katsura Bunshi, Sanshi conferred with no one but [Tokyo rakugo grand master] Tatekawa Danshi (75) about the idea of succession. “No way,” Danshi reportedly said, and strongly opposed, “you’ve made the name Sanshi big all by yourself, now stick with that name as a hanashika!” Sanshi commented, “I was at a loss about what to do for two years,” but today continued, “I am not at a loss, nor am I the least bit unsure about this. Next year on July 17, I will take the name Katsura Bunshi VI. I’m terribly sorry.” To Danshi, who is not in the best health, Sanshi conveyed the following message. “I hope you get well very soon.”

Following the meeting between the two, when the decision was made to take the name, Danshi fell ill. Though he reportedly tried, Sanshi was not able to tell Danshi the news in person. It was a mutual friend,  Dokumamushi Sandayû,  who shared the news with Danshi. Shortly thereafter [on July 10, 2011], a harsh fax arrived from Danshi. “That’s life for you. So Bunshi is a better name than Sanshi after all, huh? Well, if that how it is, there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Do what you like. Sanshi, you’re a fxxxing idiot!!” Today Sanshi welled up somewhat as he read aloud the message he had received from Danshi.

Katsura Bunshi V, who was also Sanshi’s master, was dubbed one of the “Four Heavenly Kings of Kamigata Rakugo.” After an illustrious career he passed away in 2005. This year commemorates the seventh year since his death. Today, Sanshi, Bunshi’s oldest pupil, stated, considering “my own age,” and moreover, that his contractor Yoshimoto Kôgyô would be turning 100 next year, and the timing, “it’s now or never. I decided to proceed.” He announced that on the day of his succession, he will begin a grand program of celebration with a reception titled “From Sanshi to Katsura Bunshi VI,” to be held at the Osaka Namba Grand Kagetsu Theater. At this point in time Sanshi is planning on making stops in at least five major [Japanese] cities, at venues that can seat up to 2,000 people. He also plans to make appearances abroad. Celebration parties to be held in Osaka and Tokyo are now in the works.

Link to the full article.


桂三枝、「六代 桂文枝」襲名を立川談志から反対されていた

落語家の桂三枝 (68)が16日、都内ホテルで「六代 桂文枝」襲名発表会見を開いた。誕生日を迎えるちょうど1年後のきょう上方落語の大名跡「桂文枝」の六代目を継ぐ三枝だが、事前に唯一相談した立川談志 (75)からは「やめておけ。せっかく一人で三枝の名前を大きくしたんだからそのまま噺家をやっておけ」と猛反対されたという。「2年半迷った」という三枝だったが現在は「迷いも、一点の曇りもなく、来年の7月16日、六代 桂文枝を襲名します。申し訳ない」といい、体調が万全ではない談志に「一刻も早く良くなって下さい」と精一杯の思いを伝えた。




Katsura Sanshi → Katsura Bunshi VI?! 桂三枝 →「六代目桂文枝」?!

Yes, this seems to be true.

I first heard the news yesterday afternoon from an owner of a kimono shop in the Tenjinbashi shopping arcade. This is shocking and still somewhat unbelievable.

I don’t know the details surrounding the decision to give Sanshi this name — and Katsura Kinshi the name Katsura Kobunshi, the name that is traditionally taken before receiving the name Bunshi.

There will be a press conference held on this on the 16th, so some things should  be cleared up. I will make another post on this shortly thereafter.

It is not yet clear to me what people are thinking about this in the rakugo world, but there is definitely mixed public opinion — from supportive to complete outrage — to be found on the Internet. One online article I’ve read says that Bunshi V’s wife is reportedly happy about one of his pupils succeeding his name. Another site reports unverified rumors about senior hanashika in the Kamigata Rakugo Association being strongly opposed to Sanshi and Kinshi receiving these names. Another sight has over 600 “hate comments” posted in fierce opposition to the decision.

Succeeding a new name is typically a very auspicious event, but for some reason, these successions seem to be bathed in controversy. This is big news in the rakugo world to be sure.

Sanshi’s blog post on the matter of receiving a new name is quite casual, and reads:

It sounds like the news about me becoming Bunshi VI has been released.

I would like to make a detailed post about why this decision was made after the news conference on the 16th.

Of course, the news is true.

If I’ve been able to make it this far, there’s nothing to worry about. I’ll just keep looking forward, having fun, doing the best I can.

Strangely, I’m in a serene state of mind.

Time for a walk…





落語の世界では噺家さんたちはこれについてどのように思っているのでしょうか。インターネットでは、様々なリアクション(賛成から激怒まで)が見つかります。あるオンライン記事によると、文枝師匠の奥様が「名跡が弟子に受け継がれるのはうれしいこと」とおっしゃっています。 あるサイトが上方落語協会の大師匠が大反対なさっているという未証明の噂を発表しました。もう一つのサイトで決意に対して大反対の「嫌みコメント」600件以上集まっています。