New (English) Book on Rakugo 新しい落語本(英語)

Ian McArthur book coverUntil this year, just two scholarly books on rakugo had been published in English. The first one was Heinz Morioka and Miyoko Sasaki’s Rakugo: The Popular Narrative Art of Japan (Cambridge: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, 1990; 470 pp.). The second was Lori Brau’s Rakugo: Performing Comedy and Cultural Heritage in Contemporary Tokyo (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008; 274 pp.).

This year, Ian McArthur published the third, Henry Black – On Stage in Meiji Japan (Victoria, Australia: Monash University Publishing, 2013; 286pp.), which has much to do with rakugo. The book’s focus is on Australian-born British citizen, Henry Black (stage name Kairakutei Burakku I, 1858-1923), who made a career as a professional storyteller (rakugoka) and actor in Japan in the 1880s and 1890s. Among other things, the book examines the role Black played in bringing nineteenth-century European notions of modernity to Japan during the Meiji era.

I am happy to introduce this book on my blog, and am looking forward to getting a copy of my own.

英語で書かれている落語についての学究的な本は、現在まで二冊しか出版されていません。その一つは、森岡ハインツ先生と佐々木 みよ子先生の「Rakugo: The Popular Narrative Art of Japan」(落語 日本の大衆話芸, Cambridge: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, 1990; 470頁). 二つ目は、ロリー・ブラウ先生の「Rakugo: Performing Comedy and Cultural Heritage in Contemporary Tokyo」(落語 現代における東京のコメディーおよび文化遺産の実演, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2008; 274頁)です。

しかし今年、新たに落語に関係の深い本が出版されました。イアン・マッカーサー先生の「Henry Black – On Stage in Meiji Japan 」(明治時代の舞台を踏む  ヘンリー・ブラック  Victoria, Australia: Monash University Publishing, 2013; 286頁) という本です。この本はオーストラリア生まれ英国国籍、そして明治半ばに日本で落語家や役者として活躍したヘンリー・ブラック(芸名は初代 快楽亭 ブラック、1858-1923) という人物を中心に、19世紀ヨーロッパでの現代化における価値観、そしてその価値観をブラック氏がどのように明治時代の日本に紹介したかといういうテーマで構成されています。


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


Sanshi’s Feelings of Guilt 三枝の罪悪感

Last night before going to bed I read the forward to Katsura Sanshi’s recent book, Shishô, godaime Bunshi e (To My Master, Bunshi V [Yoshimoto Bukkusu, 2012]).

In the course of eleven pages, Sanshi recalls his wildly successful career as a radio and TV “tarento” (personality/star), but asks why his master Bunshi V (1930-2005) ever allowed him to follow such a path. More specifically, he wonders why Bunshi told him to go (itte koi) to the broadcasting company in the first place.

It soon becomes clear Sanshi is filled with guilt since he got his big break so soon after entering the artistic school of Bunshi. Despite the fact he was associated with Bunshi longer than most of Bunshi’s other pupils, Sanshi knows Bunshi the least.

Sanshi is filled with guilt because he will soon take the name of a Kamigata rakugo giant– his master –but he hardly knows the man who preceded him. In an attempt to know Bunshi better, to give readers a sense that he has support from those who knew Bunshi best, and perhaps to relieve his guilt, Sanshi interviews those who learned from Bunshi. The interviews make up the bulk of the book.

Toward the end of the forward Sanshi writes, “Considering the fact that my classic-loving (koten-ha) master did an original story (sôsaku) at the end [of his career/life], could he have been showing his support for my [adherence to] original rakugo? Was he giving me his approval? By taking on such a new challenge could he have been saying, ‘You keep going, and don’t worry about a thing’?”

It is doubtful Sanshi has any concerns about ascending to an artistic name that goes back more than 150 years, but he clearly feels guilty about taking the name of his master. Whatever the case, Sanshi’s interpretation of Bunshi’s decision to compose the original story “Kumano môde” at Mie and Kumano prefectures’ joint request as a last-ditch attempt to convey to Sanshi his approval strikes me as self-serving, egotistical, and unfortunate. But perhaps this is what Sanshi needs to tell himself to relieve such guilt.

Indeed, Sanshi went to the broadcasting company as his master told him to shortly after beginning his apprenticeship, but Sanshi went off and over time failed to return, which was also implied when Bunshi said itte koi (go and come back). Sanshi made his priority making it in the world of mass media entertainment.

It is not impossible to make a good living on rakugo alone, but, perhaps one cannot blame Sanshi since there was so much more money to be had in radio and TV. Still, the fact remains, Sanshi did not return to complete a formal apprenticeship with Bunshi, and, consequently, Sanshi never became the hanashika his master expected. Perhaps this is where Sanshi’s guilt late in life derives from, particularly in the months and days before he takes his masters name.

Tonight it’s on to Chapter One.

Here is my review of the book.











Dinner and Karaoke ディナーとカラオケ

Tonight Somemaru invited me out to dinner and karaoke with a group of friends and pupils. The Chinese food was wonderful, and the karaoke was a blast. The best part of the evening was hearing Somemaru and Sakai Kunio (manzai artist/comedian) talk about the various jobs they’ve done together through the years, and listening to them sing songs from their younger days. Hanamaru, Someya, and Kinuyo (shamisen) were also along for the night’s festivities.

Somemaru has been incredibly generous to me since I’ve come to Japan to study under him. He has given me a number of beautiful gifts, and tonight he presented me with yet another. He gave me a valuable book that I had been wanting but could not afford myself, and he even did the wrapping.

Thank you so much, Shishô!




Somemaru’s Life Work 染丸師匠のライフワーク

I spent the day at Somemaru’s today. The highlight of the day was receiving, complete with signature and senja fude (sticker label printed with one’s name, see glossary), Somemaru’s new book, Kamigata rakugo yosebayashi no sekai (Osaka: Sôgensha 2011). This is a book I will always treasure.

Thank you Shishô!

今日、朝から師匠の家に伺わせていただきました。色々ありましたが、僕にとって、一番良かったことが師匠の新しい本「上方落語寄席囃子の世界」(大阪: 創元社 2011)をいただいたことです。サインも千社札もいただきました。これは僕の宝物です。