Katsura Beishi II and IV 二世と四世桂米紫

I have heard Katsura Beishi IV’s rakugo on numerous occasions. He is an energetic and precise performer. He specializes in koten rakugo, but apparently also performs shinsaku rakugo from time to time. He is going to turn 40 this week and strikes me as one of the young hanashika out there who will develop into one of the great masters in the coming years.

However, the road to mastery is not an easy one. In their younger years, hanashika have their fair share of hard times. Indeed, when they enter the professional world, their teachers often tell them things such as, “You’re not going to be able to eat for ten years.”

The other day, I was reading a Taishō-period magazine and came across a short article about Katsura Beishi II (1877-1943), who was also right around 40 when it was run. It became clear that Beishi II had it extremely hard.

Katsura Beishi-kun  (By Chûbê, 1918)

△ Although Katsura Beishi tells funny stories on stage every day and night, he gets nothing more than his set monthly wage. There are shipping millionaires and steel upstarts in the world, but the economy is horrible. We can’t put away a single mon and this is absolutely ridiculous. Beishi therefore took a chance as a performer and took his act to the provinces in hopes of one day being able to slap his friends on their cheeks with wads of cash. He zealously put together a show and headed to Hiroshima, where the the money is supposed to flow a little better. However, at every turn he suffered one misfortune after the next. After three months, his zeal was thoroughly stamped out. He faced the same hardships as a beggar. He had no money to board the locomotive and had no acquaintances to borrow money from. He had no means whatsoever, so he made poles of his legs and took to the road. When he at last made it back to Osaka, he asked for a meeting with the manager of the Kōbaitei (yose). Beishi’s clothes looked like the tattered kimono of a beggar, so the woman at reception gave him a suspicious look. In any case, she brought him to the attention of the manager, but, because he saw him without even getting a name let alone any particulars, he had no clue who he was. “I won’t have anything to do with beggars like you,” he said, “now quit dawdling and out you go!”  To this piercing greeting Beishi responded, “Sir, I’m no beggar. It”s me, Beishi!” The manager gave him a hard look and uttered, “Oh…” and nodded, “so, you’re still alive after all.” Beishi was a man of small stature to begin with, but this made him shrink a little more.




桂米紫クン (寄稿 忠兵衛、大正7年)


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。

Osaka, I’m Home 大阪よ、ただいま

I am having a great time in Osaka.

I have loved living in Tokyo since coming back to Japan in September, but Osaka feels like home. The minute I arrived I felt like saying, “I’m home (tadaima)!”

Over the last couple days I have heard some good rakugo, visited the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, spent time in various used book stores, and have enjoyed some of the great food Osaka is famous for.

Today I may go to listen to rakugo at Dôrakutei. I also would like to visit the Wahha Kamigata Museum.

Okay, see you in town!






Another Old Name Renewed: Bun’nosuke もう一つ名跡復活、文之助

Bun'nosuke III. Photo property of Rakuten Tickets (.co.jp)Daily Sports ran the following article today:

Katsura Jakumatsu Becomes Katsura Bun’nosuke III

On October 6, Kamigata rakugoka Katsura Jakumatsu (57) took the name Katsura Bun’nosuke III. To mark the occasion he appeared in a name ascension ceremony and performance in Osaka. This is the first time the name Katsura Bun’nosuke has been used in 83 years. Katsura Bun’nosuke III commented on his goals after the show: “I want to keep practicing, and bring a new presence of mind to the stage.”

In addition to other members of the Katsura Beichô school¹ being present during the opening address (kôjô), Kamigata Rakugo Association Chairperson Katsura Bunshi and Vice Chairperson Shôfukutei Tsurube were also on hand. Bunshi told the audience, “He is a dexterous and versatile entertainer who can perform both the classics and original pieces.  I look forward to him furthering the greatness of this name.”


桂雀松 「桂文之助」三代目を襲名



¹ Bun’nosuke III is a pupil of the late Katsura Shijaku, who was Katsura Beichô direct pupil. 三代文之助は故桂枝雀の弟子で、枝雀は桂米朝の直弟子。Article 記事へ

New Hanashika Site Page! 噺家のサイトページをアップ!

I’ve created a new page, titled Hanashika Sites. Please take a look!

It is a page in progress. If you know of any Kamigata hanashika sites (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that are not listed, or notice any dead links, please share them via comment.