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。


Katsura Beichô and the Kamigata Rakugo Miracle「桂米朝と上方落語の奇蹟」

Photo property of:堀井憲一郎_000000000393159/item_桂米朝と上方落語の奇蹟_5495836Kamigata hanashika Katsura Beichô (87), a Living National Treasure (Ningen kokuhô) — a popular term for those individuals certified as Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties (Jūyō mukei bunkazai hojisha) — checked into a hospital at the end of August to undergo treatment for pneumonia. I read news this afternoon that he was at last discharged. I am relieved to hear that he is doing better health-wise.

Beichô was in the news for an unrelated matter recently.

The publisher Kôdansha was set early this month to begin selling the book Katsura Beichô to Kamigata rakugo no kiseki (Katsura Beichô and the Kamigata Rakugo Miracle) by columnist Horî Ken’ichirô, but it’s release was suddenly canceled. Kôdansha released a statement saying that the company “received report from a concerned party that details were not reported factually.” The book was supposed to focus on Katsura Beichô’s personal life and Kamigata rakugo.

Kôdansha also reported that it had finished running the first 5,000 copies (x¥1,680 = ¥8,400,000) by the end of September, when it was contacted by a person affiliated with Beichô. The company initially postponed the release of the book until mid-October, but ultimately decided to cancel publication altogether. Kôdansha said that they are not at liberty to disclose what was disputed about the book.

This week there has been nonstop buzz on blogs, social networking sites, and discussion threads about what could have been in the book that prompted its cancellation. Not few are speculating that it might be something from Beichô’s past that does not mesh well with the his current image, which his office Beichô Jimusho, and devotees have worked to bolster since he was designated Ningen kokuhô in the mid-1990s. Of course, this is only speculation.

I am very curious about what was in Horî Ken’ichirô’s book.

I wish I could get my hands on one of the 5,000 copies…

Related post → Not Going to Buy “Beichô Rakugo Anthology – Updated”

Photo property of:堀井憲一郎上方の噺家で人間国宝(重要無形文化財保持者)の桂米朝師匠(87)は、肺炎の治療を受けるため、8月下旬から入院していましたが、今日の午後やっと退院できたというニュースを見ました。米朝師匠が元気になられて、本当によかったです。


講談社は10月初旬に発売を予定していた、コラムニスト堀井憲一郎さんの著書「桂米朝と上方落語の奇蹟」の出版を中止したと発表しました。講談社によると、「本の記述に対し、事実と違うと関係者から指摘を受けたため」に出版を中止したとありました。本の内容ですが、 米朝師匠の人生を中心にし、上方落語についてまとめた本であったそうです。

講談社の広報室によると、初版5000部 (x 1,680円 = 8,400,000円) が刷り上がっていた9月末、 米朝師匠の関係者から指摘がありました。その後、いったん発売を10月中旬に延期しましたが、最終的に出版中止を決めたそうです。指摘された内容については「明かせない」としています。




関連記事 → 僕は「米朝落語全集-増補改訂版」を買いません


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 ( 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

Beichô Jûhachiban 米朝十八番

Beichô jûhachiban flyerWhen I am in Japan, one of my favorite pastimes is browsing in used book stores. I am always on the lookout for old books about rakugo and related subjects.

Sometimes these old books come with little treasures, for instance, notes and letters written by rakugo fans, scholars, and even hanashika. Sometimes I also find old yose tickets and show flyers (chirashi).

On my last trip to Japan I went hunting for old books in Kanda. In one of my purchases I found a chirashi for one of Katsura Beichô III’s (1925-, Living National Treasure) solo showcases (dokuenkai), a six-day series titled Beichô jûhachiban (Beichô’s [Best] Eighteen).

Thereon, a young and handsome Beichô appears in four close-up shots. According to the chirashi, he performed three different stories each night, six nights in a row. Two pupils (also listed) appeared with him at each show. The venue was Sankei Hall (Nishi-Umeda, Osaka), and shows were July 3 – 9. Unfortunately, the year is not listed. I wonder what year this was…

Tickets for these shows cost ¥1000 or ¥800, and an all-show pass was available for ¥5400.

A rather interesting find.







Earthenware Pot and the Mouse 土鍋鼠

Last night was a night full of dreams.

Or at least I could remember many of them upon waking up.

It’s been a while since I’ve remembered my dreams so clearly.

I’ve heard  that one is becoming truly fluent in a second language when s/he starts dreaming in that language.

Well, what does it mean when you begin dreaming about hanashika, and your dreams are like rakugo stories?

Last night I had the following dream.

I was at Katsura Yonedanji V’s (Katsura Beichô III’s pupil, and own son) house for breakfast. I don’t remember what was being prepared, but the house was very Western. In fact, I think we were in my parents’ next-door neighbors’ house.

I was calling Yonedanji “Yonedanji-san,” and then it dawned on me that, since he has rakugo pupils of his own, I should probably be calling him Yonedanji-shishô. Wow, even in my dreams I am concerned with obeying the rules of hierarchical society…

I apologized and inquired, “you have two pupils now, right?” “Five,” he corrected me. Indeed, the kitchen and dining room was bustling with good-looking young men, busy preparing breakfast and setting the table. (In reality he does have two.)

Then Yonedanji and I had the following conversation:

YONEDANJI: I have a really nice, old earthenware nabe [for hotpot] that belonged to my mother. She doesn’t need it anymore and I’ve been trying to find a good friend to give it to. Could you use it?

I have my own (cheap) nabe, so I really do not need another, but I thought, since this nabe technically belonged to the Living National Treasure Katsura Beichô, I should probably not turn it down.

MATT: Really? Me? Are you sure? How could I…

With that, Yonedanji went outside to a picnic table to fetch the nabe. I could see him through a window, but I tried not to watch him for fear of being rude. He returned with a handsome though dusty, antique nabe.

YONEDANJI: Here it is. Take a look.

I took it in my hands and opened the lid. Inside, I was surprised to find a little mouse. I wasn’t sure if Yonedanji had seen it, so, to keep from startling him, and  his deshi, I commented casually.

MATT: Oh, there’s a little mouse inside.

With this Yonedanji, and all of his deshi, erupted in laughter. He explained how easy it is to catch mice in nabe by putting a little food inside and leaving the lid cracked open. Indeed, Yondedanji was quite pleased with himself.

The joke was on me, and I can’t remember if I even got to keep Beicho’s nabe!

Maybe I will find out as I dream tonight.