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。


“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




Back to the Books 机上に戻って

As I’ve written in prior posts, I’ve recently been urged by professors to spend more time focusing on “book work,” and writing my dissertation. It is true that my purpose for coming to Japan–thanks to a Monbukagakushô scholarship–is to conduct research for my dissertation. Of course, the time I spend day to day, morning to night, with Somemaru is anything but meaningless. I do learn an incredible amount while with him. Nevertheless, I have a major paper to write. Since it was very hard to speak to Somemaru about this directly, I sent him the following email yesterday afternoon:

I’m sending you this email today because I would like to discuss my future with you. As you know, I discussed my dissertation in the meeting with Prof. XX. He said that, from April, he would like me to make regular presentations on my research, and also take a course on early-modern literature.
This is very difficult for me bring up, but the reason I’m writing this email is to ask for time off beginning in March, so I can get ready for the beginning of the new school year in April.
Every second I get to spend with you is extremely important to me. The very thought of being away makes me sad. The fact that you have taken on an American such as myself, done so much for me, means an awful lot…
In my “desk studies” I have come to understand the way in which scholars perceive things, think, and write, but, as you’ve taught me, scholars often tend to over-categorize things to a point where the essence of the focus (rakugo) is lost.
I did not come to Japan to write a dissertation in this fashion. In order to be able to write a fine paper on Kamigata Rakugo and present it in the United States, it would make me extremely happy if I could continue to benefit from your expert advice.

Somemaru was very understanding in his reply, which included the following:

Okay. I guess you can’t study according to plans if you’re always by my side. Change your frame of mind and immerse yourself in your studies. Stay away from alcohol and women, and, of course, stay healthy.

So, though I am sure that I will continue to meet Somemaru to discuss my research, join him at shows, etc., from time to time, he is being kind to excuse me from full-time deshi responsibilities from March 1, so that I can focus on my studies and write. I will be sad not to see him everyday, but, as he instructed, I will work hard on my studies.






Reality Check 現実を把握させられて

Today Somemaru gave me the day off so I could go out to Ritsumeikan to meet with my research advisor. Though my advisor thinks the experiences I am having with Somemaru are wonderful, he suggested that that I start spending more time in the library with rakugo, and other related materials. I will also have to present my research regularly and attend classes in the grad school from April.

There is an fascinating (okay, maybe not so fascinating) conflict to be found in my research. It seems that the storytellers themselves often feel that it is scholars who have done damage to their art by insisting on picking apart rakugo and placing it into various categories. In a sense, some storytellers feel that scholars have taken the fun out of rakugo, therefore distancing it from the people it is intended for–the masses. On the other hand, scholars feel there must be some kind of theoretical or critical approach to rakugo. Simply appreciating it as it is does not constitute a substantial work on the art. Rakugo must be analyzed and placed next to similar arts.

I love most being with Somemaru, being in the rakugo world. I feel that it is here where I learn the most. However, I also I understand that, since I have chosen a path of so-called academia, I must follow that which my academic advisors instruct me to do. Then again, there is something, a hunch, that tells me that I have the best of both worlds in my research. I almost feel that I won’t be able to bring forth a fine piece of research if I don’t include the hanashika perspective. I feel that it would hurt my work if I don’t include the thoughts and guidance of a man such as Somemaru.

It is clear that I will not be able to able to continue as Somemaru’s full-time deshi, but I cannot begin to think of severing my ties with him completely.





See you soon いってらっしゃい

Today Somemaru left for a weekend of shows in cities like Izumo and Takamatsu. I went early this morning to help with preparations for departure, and to drive him to the shinkansen (bullet train) station in the afternoon. Since I won’t be joining him on this trip I have the weekend off. This is a rare luxury, so I will use the time wisely to clean up my own place and do some reading, etc. See you soon, Shishô.