“I’m happy he’s better! o(^-^)o”「お元気になられてよかった o(^-^)o」

Hayashiya ichimonkai Jan. 2013Since the beginning of November, Somemaru has been working hard every day to make a full recovery from his stroke. His hard work has paid off. On January 12, Somemaru delighted a packed audience with one of his favorite stories at the Hayashiya School New Year Showcase.

I was happy to read Tweets from fans who attended the show, like the following:

@kumakosuki The “Hayashiya School New Year Showcase” at the Hanjôtei just ended. Master Somemaru was headliner. Compared to before, his articulation was just a tiny bit… but as he kept talking I completely stopped noticing. He was thoroughly amusing, and his melodies were superb. Niban senji lasted a full 30 minutes and was full of laughs. I’m happy he’s better! o(^-^)o

After the show, Somemaru wrote the following in his blog, Nikikishi.

Appreciation for a Full House at Our Showcase (January 13, 2013)

Yesterday our ichimon-kai was so packed that they had to put out extra seating. I would like to extend my warm thanks to my fans for all their support. Unfortunately, I caught a cold before the show, so I should apologize for my voice being a little hoarse. Thanks to so many loud shouts of encouragement, I was finally able to make it through a story. As I pushed on in a loud voice, for some reason, I started sounding kind of like Master Shokaku VI.¹ Master Shokaku looked after me from the time I was young, so maybe he had come back and was on my shoulder saying, “Hey, get with the program!”

. . .  Today the professional sumo tournament got underway. My, the wrestlers seem especially spirited on day one. Like them, I will keep at it, driving forward in full force. Thank you for your continued cheers of support in 2013.

I am very happy that Somemaru is better, and I am extremely excited that I will be able to see him again next month.



@kumakosuki: 繁昌亭での『新春林家一門顔見世興行』終わり~トリの染丸師匠はほんの、ほんのすこぅし以前に比べ滑舌が… 話し進むうちに全く気にならなくなって、ほこほこ面白く節回し見事で笑いいっぱいの「二番煎じ」を30分たっぷり。お元気になられてよかったo(^-^)o



昨日の一門会には補助席を出すほどの大入ご贔屓を賜わり厚く御礼申し上げます。私が風邪を引いてしまいまして、ちょっと声が枯れかけて申し訳ないことでした。皆さんの大きな声援に支えられてやっと一席終えることができました。頑張って大きな声をはりあげてやってますと、何故か六代目松鶴師匠みたいな感じになりました.¹  若いときから可愛がっていただいた松鶴師匠が『おいしっかりせえよ』と私の肩に乗り移って下さったのかもしれません。

. . . 今日から大相撲初場所が始まりました。何か初場所初日のお相撲さんはとても気合が入ってるように感じました。私もしっかり気合を入れて頑張っていきます。どうぞ今年もご声援よろしくお願い致します。


¹ Shôfukutei Shokaku VI (1918-86) has been dubbed one of the four greats (shitennô) of post-World War II Kamigata rakugo. 六代目笑福亭松鶴 (1918-86) は、戦後上方落語の四天王の一人といわれる。

Hanashika-san da yo〜「噺家さんダヨ〜」♫

Despite the threat of a little rain, it appears that the 2012  Hikohachi Matsuri was once again a great success. Like every year, Sumiyoshi odori — led by Somemaru — was a crowd favorite. Fortunately, it was sunny and warm during the dance set.

It was sad not being there this year, but I was thrilled to find some video clips of the festival on YouTube (click photo for siratosaburou‘s video). It is wonderful to see Somemaru’s happy smile, looking great as emcee and dancer. Particularly funny is the final number, the newly choreographed Hanashika version of the dance Yakkosan/Anesan. Somemaru and Katsura Sankin had the audience rolling with laughter.

Nice work everyone! You look great!




Dear Japan, So Long 日本よ、行ってまいります

20120330-092520.jpgLast night I had a wonderful time at Somemaru’s. The food was delicious, and I received a beautiful parting gift from the Hayashiya ichimon.

I have to head to the airport today, so I will share more details once I am in Portland.

Thank you Somemaru, thank you Hayashiya ichimon, thank you everybody in Japan, thank you Japan.

Okay… I’m sad to leave, but off I go.



師匠、林家一門、日本の皆様、日本よ… 大変お世話になりました。本当にどうもありがとうございました。



Ômisoka&Gantan 大晦日&元旦

Just like last year, this year I spent Ômisoka (December 31) and Gantan (January 1) at Somemaru’s house. This is a very busy, but very enjoyable time of the year.

One reason I like New Year (Oshôgatsu) in Japan is that it is a time of togetherness for most families. It is the one time of year when the majority of stores close and people are able to focus on things other than work and the commercial world outside their doors. This is also a time when a good deal of the country flocks to local temples and shrines for New Year’s blessings, buying amulets for any number of things, such as commuter safety, help finding true love, having successful childbirth, passing high school and college entrance exams, and so on.

One soon learns that Japanese people (or at least NHK) take Oshôgatsu seriously when they observe the way the wildly popular annual music program Kôhaku uta gassen comes to a sudden, anticlimactic end at Countdown: 10, 9. 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… CUT TO QUIET, SOLEMN SHOTS OF TEMPLES AROUND THE NATION.

Ômisoka and Gantan at Somemaru’s are not exactly solemn, but he does adhere to old customs as far as food (osechi) preparation and ceremonial sake (otoso) pouring goes. Pupils in training and children receive money gifts (otoshidama), and the list of customs followed goes on. Again, togetherness is key. This is the best thing about the holiday.

On Ômisoka I spent the entire day assisting Somemaru with osechi preparation, making enough food for about 40 people. Somemaru does all the cooking himself, working all day in the kitchen, hardly taking a break. Actually, I had to remind him to take a break from time to time. On one of our breaks we enjoyed toshikoshi soba, long buckwheat noodles, an Ômisoka must.

I went home late and returned early the next morning to help with more preparations before Somemaru’s pupils began arriving with their wives and children.

Soon everybody had arrived and the New Year’s banquet was underway. I helped by making sure food and drinks never ran out, and washed a great deal of dishes. Of course I was also allowed to partake in the delicious food and drinks. All of this was wonderful, and the banquet felt like a huge family gathering. Indeed, everybody had a fabulous time, starting off the New Year in grand fashion. I especially enjoyed playing with the children, two of them promising to return to America with me.

The festivities lasted well into the night. I stayed until the end to help clean up, getting home just before midnight. When I looked in the mirror, I realized I still had a smile on my face.

I have a feeling the Year of the Dragon is going to be a special year.



9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . 全国の静かで厳粛たる寺々のカット。






Congratulations Somemaru 師匠、おめでとうございます

Tonight I attended the Kiwametsuki Somemaru no kai, the show held to commemorate Somemaru’s 45th year as a hanashika, and 20th year with the professional name Somemaru.

The show was more wonderful than I could have anticipated. I — and the packed Nanba Grand Kagetsu Theater — was dazzled all night. It was obvious that much work went into making this an unforgettable show.

I was honored to be part of the audience, and am honored to call Somemaru my shishô.

Somemaru shishô, congratulations on a terrific show, and on 45 years of rakugo. May you remain healthy and prosperous for years to come!