Artistic Family Crests 一門の定紋

In the May 1, 2012 issue (no.24) of the Kamigata Rakugo Associations’s informational magazine Nna aho na, there is a nice feature titled “Kamigata Rakugo Storyteller Family Crests” (Kamigata rakugoka no jômon, pp. 8-9). Below is my translation of the article.


Kamigata Rakugo Storytellers’ Artistic Family Crests

Storytellers who appear on stage wear a wide variety of kimono. Solid, fine-patterned, striped… There are also kimono of various colors, quiet to extremely loud. Did you know that on some of these kimono performers also wear different crests, depending on who they are?

That’s right. These crests differ according to artistic family [ichimon]

In this issue we would like to introduce some representative crests used by Kamigata Rakugo storytellers.





Mitsu kashiwa(Triple Oak Leaf) 三つ柏. Worn by members of the Katsura Beichô (Tsukitei) and Katsura Bunshi ichimons桂米朝(月亭)• 桂文枝一門

A storyteller in the Katsura school by the name of Katsura Bunji I [1774-1816] used this crest and it has been passed down through the generations since. We know that this crest was being used in the Edo-period Bunka years (1808-1818).  桂を名乗る落語家の組である初代桂文治が用いたことから代々受け継がれてきた紋です。江戸時代の文化年間(一八〇四〜一八一八)にはすでにこの紋を使っていたことがわかっています。

Musubi kashiwa (Oak Leaf Knot) 結び柏. Worn by members of the Katsura Beichô (Tsukitei) and Katsura Bunshi ichimons.  桂米朝(月亭)• 桂文枝一門

The Musubikashiwa is a simplified version of the Mitsukashiwa [this is the crest most typically seen on kimono in these schools].  三つ柏を簡略表現したもんです。

Hanabishi (Chestnut Flower) 花菱.  Worn by members of the Katsura Harudanji ichimon.  桂春団治一門

It is said that Katsura Harudanji I (1878-1934) received this crest from the house of the founders of Yoshimoto Entertainment (today Yoshimoto Promotions).  初代桂春団治(一八七八〜一九三四)が、吉本興行(現•吉本興業)の創業者家から譲られたといわれています。

Gomai sasa (Five Bamboo Leaves) 五枚笹.  Worn by members of the Shôfukutei ichimon.  笑福亭一門

The first man to take the artistic family name Shôfukutei was Shôfukutei Gochiku I (active around the 1820s), and it is believed that he used the Gomai sasa crest because of its connection to the “five bamboos” of his name [Gochiku 吾竹]. This crest was in regular use by the early Meiji period [1868-1912].  笑福亭を名乗った初代とされる初代笑福亭吾竹(一八二〇年頃に活躍)が、その名にちなみ「五つの竹」から五枚笹を用いたといわれています。明治初期にはすでに使われていました。

Nu no ji usagi (Rabbit Resembling a Nu) ぬの字うさぎ. Worn by members of the Hayashiya ichimon.  林家一門

This crest was created by Hayashiya Somemaru II (1867-1952), the man credited with reviving the Kamigata branch of the Hayashiya school. He was born in the year of the rabbit and loved rabbits himself. 上方林家の名を復活させた二代目林家染丸(一八六七〜一九五二)が、卯年生まれでウサギ好きだったことから定めた紋です。

Kikyô (Bellflower) 桔梗. Worn by members of the Tsuyu no ichimon.  露の一門

When the late Tsuyu no Gorôbê was, in the Harudanji ichimon, promoted to the name Tsuyu no Gorô II from Koharudanji, he changed his crest to the Hishi mimasu ni katabami (Wood Sorrel in Three Boxes, 菱三升に片喰), but after this he changed the Tsuyu no ichimon crest to his master’s personal crest, Kikyô.  故•露の五郎兵衛が、春団治門下、小春団治から二代目露の五郎を襲名したときは、「菱三升に片喰」でしたが、その後、師の家紋である「桔梗」を露の一門の定紋としました。

Mitsu kumi tachibana (Three Tachibana Flowers) 三つ組橘. Worn descendants of the Tachibana line.  橘•立花系

This crest belonged to the Tokyo San’yû schools (San’yûtei, Tachibanaya, Tachibanaya [different characters]). Those in who studied in these schools in Kamigata and took the Tachibanaya name use this crest. 東京の三遊派(三遊亭•立花家•橘家)がこの紋であったことから、上方でもこれにならい、立花家を名乗る落語家が用いています。

Special Crests 替え紋

There are also special crests based on particular artistic names, used by individual performers alone. These are called kaemon.  定紋とは別に名前にちなんだ紋やある特定の落語家だけがつける紋があります。これを「替え紋」と言います。

Hishi mimasu ni hanabishi (Chestnut Flower in Three Boxes) 菱三升に花菱. Worn by Katsura Harudanji.  桂春団治

Only those named Harudanji in the Harudanji ichimon can wear the chestnut flower surrounded by three boxes.  春団治一門のうち、春団治だけは花菱を三升で囲んだ紋を用います。

Bunshi mon (Bunshi Crest) 文枝紋. Worn by Katsura Bunshi. 桂文枝

This mon is made by connecting four 文 [bun] characters in a circle. This crest was used by Bunshi I and Bunshi V. There have been variations of this crest used by others with the character 文 in their name. Included are storytellers Bunza (crest with three 文 in a circle), Bun’nosuke (crest with characters 文 and の, called Bun no maru), Bunto (crest with 文 and a chestnut flower), not to mention others.  名前にちなみ、「文」を四つ丸く連ねた紋です。初代文枝が使い、五代目文枝もときにこの紋を使うことがありました。「文」の文字がつく落語家では他に、文三(「文」を三つ丸く連ねた紋)、文之助(「文」と「の」をアレンジした「文の丸」という紋)、文都(「文」と花菱)などにも替え紋がありました。

Tsuki (Moon) 月. Worn by members of the Tsukitei ichimon.  月亭一門

This moon-shaped crest is based on the tsuki of Tsukitei, which literally means “moon pavilion.”  亭号にちなみ月をかたどった紋です。現在の月亭一門が使います。

Fukurô (Owl) フクロウ. Worn by Mori no Fukurô  森乃福郎

Mori no Fukurô II designed this crest of an owl when he was promoted to this current name.  現在の二代目森之福郎が襲名のときにフクロウを図案化して新しく作った紋です。


A New Yukata and Much More 新しい浴衣の他にもイッパイ

I am a June baby and therefore recently celebrated my birthday. To help, Somemaru ordered me a new yukata, obi, and seta (sandals). It was a very nice surprise, and a very tasteful one at that. Now that is it heating up in Osaka, and summer matsuri (festival) season is quickly approaching, I am looking forward to wearing my new outfit!

Today I met Somemaru in the morning. We spent the entire day walking through Osaka, stopping for coffee, a pilgrimage to  Hatsu Tenjin in Sonezaki, lunch at the Chûô Kôkaidô building in Nakanoshima, a visit to the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, window shopping in Umeda, and, finally, a soba-noodle and tempura dinner. At each stop and along the way Somemaru and I discussed rakugo — its history, current state,  future, etc. He was also very kind offer helpful advice on the course of my research. I am incredibly lucky to be able to spend so much time enjoying Osaka with and learning from Somemaru.

Shishô, thank you for the birthday surprise (I love it!), and for spending the day with me today!


今朝、師匠と待ち合わせしまして、一日中大阪見物たくさんできました。コーヒーをいただいたり、初天神に参詣したりして、中之島にある中央公会堂で昼を食べたり、大阪市立東洋陶磁美術館をゆっくり回ったりしました。梅田でちょっとウィンドウショッピングしたら、ざるそばと天ぷらを晩御飯にいただきました。今日、休憩しているときも、歩いているときも、師匠と落語の話(歴史、現代事情、将来など)をたっぷりできました。僕の研究についても大切なアドバイスまでもいただけました。師匠と一日大阪をゆっくりエンジョイでき、師匠にたくさん直接教えていただき… 僕が本当にラッキーです。


Somemaru’s Kôza, Outstanding! さすが染丸師匠の高座!

Today I got dressed in kimono and went to the hiru-seki (afternoon show) at the Hanjôtei to see Somemaru perform. Fortunately I found a seat up front, at far stage right. I sat next to a man, who, with his shoes off and legs stretched out, seemed intent on sleeping throughout the show. Let me digress by making a few comments about this man.

At first I thought the man was being rude by sleeping, but I soon noticed he wasn’t sleeping at all. I know he was awake because he took notes at the beginning and end of each kôza. He was listening, and rather actively. During each makura he would whisper to himself the title of story he thought hanashika were leading into. As I listened to him guess, I realized he was correct in almost every case.

From a Western (and contemporary Japanese) point of view, the man was being rude. The way he lounged in his seat and kept his eyes closed sent the message that he wasn’t interested in being there, or thought the performances weren’t worth much. This is not so from the traditional Japanese (rakugo) perspective, though. Being that rakugo is a narrative art to be listened to and not necessarily one to be watched, this man was putting each hanashika to the test by refusing to watch their facial expressions, gesticulations, and (in some cases) excessive animation. The way he was sitting, too, is what hanashika and yose owners have long desired–that people make themselves at home, as if they were in their own living rooms. This is one reason that, at the Hanjôtei and some other yose, you can see the character 樂 (raku, relax, ease, calm) affixed to the wall behind hanashika, at upstage center. The man I sat next to was therefore not being rude. He was a rakugo tsû (connoisseur). He listened closely, and made hanashika work for his laughter. With knowledge of this, I was especially glad to see it when the man was sitting up in his seat, eyes wide open, for the tori (final act, headliner), Somemaru.

It goes without saying, Somemaru’s kôza was outstanding. It had been quite a while since I had listened to Somemaru’s rakugo from the audience, so this was a nice treat. I was able to see him in full view and observe the audience’s delight as he narrated his story, today Shaku no aigusuri (The Best Medicine for Nervous Cramps). Of course there were other great acts today (e.g., Katura Bunya’s Kyô no chazuke [Tea over Rice, Kyoto-style] was quite enjoyable, reminiscent of his master’s [Katsura Bunshi V] version of the same story), but Somemaru has a special talent for drawing in the audience, making them feel comfortable, and feel there is no other place in the world he would rather be than right there on stage before them for his 40-minute set as tori. Indeed, Somemaru is a true professional, from opening bow to closing bow. One must note, too, his kimono are absolutely fabulous.

It is difficult for anybody to sit in one place for three to four hours, and this is why the more seasoned, talented hanashika perform later on the yose bill. This is why Somemaru performs last. The promise of his appearance keeps people in their seats, and his performance makes them forget it if they were tired. It seems that all hanashika throughout the long show have their own ways of comically empathizing with the audience, their own ways of thanking them for sticking around to the end of the show. This is how Somemaru began his kôza today, too, with a joke about how long the show was, and sincere expression of his gratitude for their staying to listen to him.

Following the show, I paid Somemaru a visit in the gakuya, bowed, told him I loved the show, and bowed once more to make my leave. “Where are you going? You better at least stick around for dinner,” he said. “I doubt you’ve been eating anything good lately anyway.” How could I argue with that? Besides, Somemaru was right, I hadn’t eaten anything very good since the last time I saw him. From there, we went out to eat. I got the same thing Somemaru ordered: unagi don and ebi tenpura no soba (broiled eel over rice and deep-fried prawn over buckwheat noodles). While savoring this, I was lucky to sit in on Somemaru’s dinner-time lecture to his pupil Someya about the psychology of characters in a story he is currently learning.

Shishô, thank you for a great kôza, and a wonderful dinner!








New Kimono Debut 新しい着物デビュー

I wrote a while ago in a post that Somemaru presented me with a kimono. For the last couple months it has been nicely folded, stored in my closet. Today I finally had a chance to wear it.

Two weeks ago a friend of Somemaru’s family invited me to take part in tea ceremony, which I had never done. It was an amazing experience. Since I knew nothing about this art, it felt like I was new to Japan all over again (Japanese proverb: Never forget your beginner’s heart). The teacher was kind to invite me back today, so I decided to go in kimono.

I know the basics of dressing in Japanese clothes, so putting on the kimono was the easy part. I guess what I wasn’t ready for was all the attention I would get once I stepped outside, as I walked through the train stations, rode the trains… I was proud to be wearing this gift from Somemaru, but one thing was out of place–me. Of the hundreds and hundred of Japanese people I passed, I think I saw one or two other people in kimono. I have worn kimono and yukata in public before, but never alone.

I was relieved when I arrived at tea ceremony, where I seemed to fit right it. I received all kinds of compliments on my kimono, and on how kind Somemaru was to buy such a nice gift for me. Receiving so many positive comments from those around me was quite boosting, making me realize that the countless people who looked at me with smiles at stations and on trains must have been thinking nice things too.

On my way home I held my head a little higher, proud to me the only person around in kimono.

Thank you for such a wonderful gift Shishô!



着付けの基本は何とか分かるので、着物を着るのはスムーズにいきました。難しかったのはその後でした。部屋より一歩出て、駅まで歩いているとき、電車に乗っているとき… ずっと周りの人々の視線を感じました。染丸師匠のプレゼント、もちろん誇りを持って着ていったのですが、やっぱり、街中では着物姿の外国人は何かちょっと不自然に映ったようでした。通りすがりの日本人何百人のうち、一、二人くらいしか着物を着ていなかったです。前にも公共の場で着物・浴衣を着る機会はありましたが、一人で着物を着て回った経験は一回もありませんでしたので、周りからの視線に少しびっくりしてしまいました。




A Surprise from Somemaru 師匠からのサープライズ

This afternoon Somemaru had to take off for a show in Gunma, so we spent the morning preparing for his journey. Just before noon the doorbell rang. Typically, when the doorbell rings it is a courier with a package for Somemaru. I ran downstairs, grabbed his hanko (name stamp used for ID purposes) and received the predicted package. I took it to Somemaru, who told me to open it. I didn’t think this too out of the ordinary so I did so.

Shishô, it looks like a kimono has arrived for you,” I announced. He then looked at me with a smile and said in English, “It’s yours.” What?! You’ve got to be kidding, were my immediate thoughts, but sure enough, Somemaru told me to try it on. He helped me get dressed–I was so excited that I didn’t even take off the clothes I had on… It was a perfect fit, measured and cut according to my sizes. I was so incredibly surprised and happy that my face hurt from smiling so much… Looking at Somemaru, I could tell that he was just as happy to present me with my very first kimono.

Since I borrowed a kimono for a couple recent performances, I mentioned to Somemaru that I would like his help looking for a nice kimono at a price I could afford… I never in a million years could have guessed he would go and buy me one, complete with a haori to go with it. He also have me a new obi (sash) and haori himo (tie cords) to complete the costume.

I am still blown away by the fact that I now have my own kimono, and at Somemaru’s generosity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Shishô!


「師匠の着物が届いたみたいです」と言ったら、師匠が素敵な笑顔で「It’s yours…」と英語でおっしゃってくださいました。ナ〜ンですか!!冗談でしょうと思いながら、師匠が僕に「着てみ」とおっしゃい、着付けを手伝ってくださいました。僕が子供の様にわくわくして、着ていた洋服を脱ぎもせずに外人なまりで「チチョウ、チチョウ、ホンマっすか?」と何度も言いました。サイズもぴったりでした。素敵はサープライズにびっくりしていた、こんな幸せこと今までなかったので、ず〜と微笑んでいると顔が痛くなってしまいました。師匠の姿をパッと見てみると、僕に初着物のプレゼントを贈ることに対して、彼も微笑んでいて幸せそうでした。