My Brother Loves Japan’s Plums 我が弟梅好き

Yesterday Philip and I went to Osaka Castle Park to enjoy the beautiful and fragrant plum tree orchard, which is now in full bloom. So far he has enjoyed trying new foods, riding trains, and exploring supermarkets, but he seems to have loved the plums trees in full bloom more than anything. He was thoroughly impressed and took many pictures.

Today we will go watch day one of the Osaka Grand Sumô tournament.

We will also be thinking of all the victims and families affected by the 3/11/2011 Tôhoku Megaquake and subsequent tsunamis and nuclear disasters. Today marks one year since the tragedies, but there are still many people displaced, and affected areas are still in the process of recovering. Please consider making even a small contribution to relief organizations such as the Japanese Red Cross (link on side bar →).

Advertisements

Tanabe Yose 田辺寄席

Today I went to listen to rakugo at the Tanabe Yose. Though it was my first time, this chiiki yose was holding its 595th and 596th shows this afternoon and evening. The Tanabe Yose, which puts on monthly shows and has changed venues a couple of times, has been making audiences laugh for  some 38 years. This is the “home ground” of Katsura Bunta, and it would seem that many people in the audience are also longtime regulars. Indeed it was a very friendly, family-like atmosphere, and tea and snacks were even served in the garden during intermission.

I am glad that I arrived early, because people soon filled seats in anticipation for Bunta’s pre-show talk. Ten minutes before each show, Bunta comes out for a short set called Kaikô zeroban, a play on the rakugo story Kaikô ichiban. Today, perhaps because he heard a non-Japanese was in the audience, he began by sharing jokes from around the world, including countries such as America, England, India, China, and even Iran. He performed jokes in rakugo style, showing how humor in the world is often universal (if not similar to rakugo).

Bunta performed the story Hyôgo bune, which was fabulous. Today’s special guest was Shôfukutei Kakushi, who was also great in the two stories he performed, Hettsui nusutto and Hana ikada.

The first Tanabe Yose show was held in September 1974 on the third floor of Akatsuki Pan, a bakery not far from Minami Tanabe Station. This remained the venue for but a year since there wasn’t enough space for all the people who wanted in, and the stairs, too steep for elderly yose-goers, also presented a problem. From there the Tanabe Yose was moved to the Abeno Youth Center, where it remained for many years.

The Tanabe Yose was founded by a large group of local citizens who loved rakugo and wanted to listen to rakugo regularly in their own community. The yose was formed at a time when hanashika were at pains to find venues they could regularly perform at. From the beginning there were around eighty people at every show, and high attendance continued at the Tanabe Yose even after the 1970s rakugo boom ended. It is safe to say that most Kamigata hanashika have performed at this venue at least once.

With each show, organizers also distribute a free newspaper titled Yoriai zake (named after a rakugo story). In addition to Tanabe Yose-related news, Yoriai zake also has regular articles on Osaka history, interesting culture, and even the air raids during World War II.

Today attendance remains high, with close to 200 people attending each show. Attendance numbers suddenly rose following the Hanshin Awaji Megaquake of 1995, and this is no doubt thanks to the Tanabe Yose’s volunteer efforts, which included putting together and donating backpacks with relief supplies and putting on charity outreach rakugo shows at ground zero. Apparently, a number of quake victims continue to this day as regulars in the audience.

Today the Tanabe Yose is at home in the Momogaike Citizen’s Activity Center (shimin katsudô sentâ, JR Minami Tanabe Station, or Tanabe Station on the subway). If you would like to enjoy a wonderful community yose experience, please do visit the Tanabe Yose. Be sure to make reservations and plan to arrive a little arrive early.

Finally, I would like to mention a unique exhibit of yose models by Medaru Kôbô on display in the lobby. This is quite interesting, so be sure to take a look!

今日、田辺寄席まで落語を聴きに行きました。僕は初めてでしたが、今日の昼席と寄席は田辺寄席の第595回と第596回目でした。月一回のペースで38年を渡って地域に笑いを広げている田辺寄席で、レギュラーの桂文太師匠のホームグランドと言ってもいいでしょう。客席にも長年の常連もたくさんいらっしゃるそうです。田辺寄席で吸う空気がとてもフレンドリーで、あそこにいる皆さんが本当に家族のように感じました。中入りになると、外の庭でお茶とおかきのサービスまでもありました。(ご馳走さまでした。)

やはり、今日、早く着いてよかったです。開演10分前に行われる文太師匠のトーク「開口ゼロ番」(落語のネタ「開口一番」にかけている)を楽しみにしている客がたくさん来場し、早いこといっぱいになりました。外国人も客席に来ていると聞いたからか、今日の「開口ゼロ番」の内容は世界の笑い話でした。文太師匠がそれぞれの国(アメリカ、イギリス、インド、中国、イランまでも)の笑い話を落語風に演じ、世界のユーモアはそんなに変わらない(または落語に似ている)というおもしろいトークでした。

今日、文太師匠が素敵な「兵庫船」を聴かせてくださいました。フィーチャーされていた笑福亭鶴志師匠の二席「へっつい盗人」と「花筏」も大変よかったです。

田辺寄席の第一回は昭和49年の9月で、南田辺駅の暁パンの3階で行われました。ここで一年続けたのだが、お客さんも入りきれなくなり、また、階段も急でお年寄りにも負担が大きく、阿倍野青年センターに引っ越しました。

世話役は大体15人位で、落語が好きだから、自分たちの街にで落語を聴きたいから寄席を建てようという熱心なグループです。1970年代の落語ブームと言われるものが去った後もお客さんは毎回なんと80人位のまま。田辺寄席と言えば、上方落語にとって大変大切な寄席で、上方の噺家のほぼ全てがこの高座にあがっているでしょう。

「寄合酒」という機関紙を毎回発行し、そこには田辺寄席のことだけではなく、大阪の歴史や隠れた文化、戦争での空襲のことなども紹介されている。

現在もお客さんが多く、毎回200人に近づく数。阪神淡路大震災の後、一挙にお客さんが増えたそうです。大震災の数日後に田辺寄席のグループがリュックに物資を詰め込んで被災地に入った。あそこでチャリティーで出張田辺寄席までも行ったそうです。今でも被災地から聴きに来てくれる方もおられるそうです。

2012年現在、田辺寄席が桃ヶ池市民活動センター(JR南田辺駅・地下鉄田辺駅)で月一回行われています。とても良いコミュニティーの地域寄席を経験したい方には、田辺寄席は僕の薦めです。予約して少し早く着くようにね!

最後ですが、目樽工房さんの寄席モデルの展示がロビーにあり、これもとてもよかったので、ぜひ見てください。

「んなあほな」創刊号も参考に使わせていただきました。

Amateur Rakugo 素人落語

Tonight I went to “Lil’ Farm,” an establishment that doubles as a old-fashioned Shôwa-period coffee shop (run by the owners in the daytime) and bar (run by their son in the evening). This place is just steps from my apartment and I have stopped by for both coffee and beer in the past.

The reason I am writing about Lil’ Farm my blog is that an amateur rakugo charity event was held to benefit the victims of the March Tôhoku Earthquake and subsequent disasters. I am all for charity and beer, but add rakugo to the mix and you cannot count me out. The son who runs the bar at night occasionally performs rakugo himself as an amateur. His stage name is Taco Rice. 

Photo property of "八尾女子!"

Taco Rice didn’t make a stage appearance tonight, but three energetic, young women performed one rakugo story each. Two performed traditional stories, Dôbutsuen (The Zoo) and Ko home (Complimenting a Child [for Saké]), while the other performed an original piece called Sekkusulesu fûfu (The Sexless Couple). All three wore kimono, and did a wonderful job. The three girls are all from Osaka (Yao City) and currently reside in Tokyo, trying to make it in the professional entertainment (acting and singing) industry. They occasionally perform together as the Yao Joshi! (Girls of Yao!).

Though the audience’s age ranged from 3 to 70, most were in their 20s and 30s. Not surprisingly, this was the first time for most to hear rakugo performed live or otherwise. This particular crowd is heavily involved in the Osaka hip-hop and reggae scenes, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that most people were able to appreciate something so “traditional” as rakugo. The fact that tonight’s performers are also involved in “cooler” endeavors such as trying to make it in the Tokyo entertainment world may have helped put a “cool” stamp on rakugo this evening. I hope that tonight’s amateur show inspired some people in the audience to want to go and listen to professionals narrate stories at real yose.

A very fun show, for a very good cause! Thank you Lil’ Farm!

今晩は「リルファーム」という店に行きました。この店は昭和時代のコーヒーハウスでもあり(デイタイムに夫婦のオーナーがご担当)、バーでもあります(夜にご長男がご担当)。この店が僕のアパートのすぐ近くなので、たまにここでコーヒーやビールをいただいています。

このブログでリルファームについて書く理由は、今晩東北大震災の避難者のためのアマチュア落語チャリティーイベントが行われていたからです。僕はチャリティーもビールも大好きですが、そのコンビに落語も入れたら、最高ですね。夜のバーを担当している長男さんは時々アマチュアとして落語を演じることもあるみたいです。芸名は何とタコライスです。

今晩、タコライスは高座に上がらなかったですが、エネルギーたっぷりの若い女性3人が一席ずつ語っていました。2人は古い噺である「動物園」と「子ほめ」をして、もう1人が「セックスレス夫婦」という創作落語を演じていました。3人とも着物を着ていて、とてもよかったです。この3人は大阪の八尾市出身で、現在東京に暮らしてプロを目指して劇団やシンガー活動をしているらしいです。この3人はたまに「八尾女史」というお笑いコンビでも活躍しています。

今晩の客層が3歳から70歳ぐらいまでと幅広かったですが、主に20代と30代がほとんどでした。びっくりするほどのことではないですが、(テレビも含めて)落語が初めての方が多かったです。実は、今日のお客さんは大阪のヒップホップ・レゲエ音楽で活躍している方が多くて、伝統芸能である落語も楽しんでいるところを見て、僕は本当に嬉しかったです。今日の演者が「クール」な活躍をしていることによって、今晩は落語も「クール」という判をもらえたかもしれないですが、今日のお客さんがこれをきっかけに、寄席でプロの落語を聴きたくなってくれるといいですね。

今日のショーはとても楽しかったし、素敵なチャリティーでした、。リルファーム、ありがとうございました。

Kamigata Rakugo Charity 上方落語の慈善

Last night while at the Hanjôtei for Somemaru’s show I noticed that their was a box in the dressing room for donations to the Red Cross of Japan, to be used to help those in northern Japan affected by the recent disasters. I was impressed by this, but absolutely amazed when I saw posted the amount (with receipt from the Red Cross) donated in cash on April 1, 2011: ¥7,000,000 (≈ $80,000USD)! The total collected by the Hanjôtei (Kamigata Rakugo Association) as of April 7 was ¥7,174,123 (≈ $84,650USD)! It looks like Osaka hanashika and their fans alike are joining the masses, working hard to help the very unfortunate. Respectable indeed.

昨日、染丸師匠のショーのため繁昌亭にお邪魔していたとき、東日本大震災救援募金箱が楽屋においてありました。これを見て感動しましたが、廊下にある掲示板に4月1日に日本の赤十字に渡した募金の金額(領収書)を見てさらに驚きました。700万円!!4月7日までに繁昌亭(上方落語協会)に集まった募金はなんと7,174,123万円!大阪の噺家もそのファンも被災された方たちのために頑張っているみたいですね。尊敬します。