Embarking on a Shinsaku Journey 新作落語の旅へ

It’s been over 10 years now since I first encountered Kamigata rakugo. Thanks to rakugo, I’ve had a lot of good laughs, and a few good cries. I’ve even had the opportunity to perform the art. My relationship with rakugo has been a valuable experience, and I am grateful.

Personally, I like the the older stories that have been passed down for generations (denshô rakugo). This is not to say that there are not good stories among the “new rakugo” (shinsakusôsaku rakugo) composed since the end of World War II (1945-). Still, I have never felt the desire to take on shinsaku as a topic for serious study.

I’ve listened to a fair share of post-World War II rakugo and I’ve often thought, “Why do hanashika need to perform these stories (that feature ‘salarymen,’ etc.) in kimono? In fact, it’s strange.” Of course, people in the audience are free to say shinsaku is no good, or that they hate it. However, as a scholar and amateur performer of the art, I’ve recently come to think that I should study shinsaku more closely in order to reach a rational conclusion. It will be important for me to remain neutral and objective as I listen to and read “new rakugo.”

Katsura Sanshi "Bakusho rakugo daizenshu"Thus, today I purchased Katsura Sanshi’s (now Bunshi VI) “Great Anthology of Explosive Laughter Rakugo” (Bakushô rakugo daizenshû), my first reference as I set out on a journey to study shinsaku.



戦後の新作落語を聴きながら、「なんで噺家が着物を着て(サラリーマンなどが登場する)新作落語を演らないかんやろ。逆におかしい 」とよく思いました。「新作はダメ、嫌い」と言うのはもちろん聴く人次第です。ただ僕は学者、そして素人噺家として、ちゃんと現代の新作を勉強して判断するべきだと最近特に強く思うようになりました。中立的な立場で、客観的にそれぞれの新作を鑑賞しないといけません。

ということで、今日は桂三枝(現 六代文枝)の「爆笑落語大全集」を買いました。これを最初の参考として、新作落語の勉強の旅に行ってまいりまっさ。

“Kamigata hanashi” 「上方はなし」

I have been saving for months, and today was the day…

Yes, I finally got it.

The centerpiece for my collection of rakugo books.

Those who know Kamigata Rakugo already know what I’m referring to. Those who don’t, well, this is a must-have if your doing serious work on Kamigata Rakugo. (Wait, is that an oxymoron?)

Okay, here it is, one of just 1000 sets:

Shôfukutei Shokaku V, ed., Kamigata hanashi (vols. 1-2). Tokyo: San’ichi shobô, 1971-2.

Really, I still can’t believe I got it. I came straight home after buying it, put it on my bookshelf, and have just been looking at it from across the room…

(Jeez, what did I get it for, decoration?!)

I’ll start reading tonight after dinner. (Yeah!)






五代目笑福亭 松鶴編、「上方はなし」(上下).昭和46-47  東京:三一書房




Used Books 古本

A few months ago Somemaru introduced me to a great used book store in Osaka that specializes in books on theater arts. It has a great selection of rakugo books, both by scholars and hanashika. Many of the books there are reasonably priced, but some rare books are incredibly expensive. I have had my eye on a spendy two-volume set for some time. The other day I finally decided to go in, money in pocket, ready to haggle. I was quickly deflated when I learned the set, which I thought had previously seen for ¥32,000, was now priced at ¥60,000 (almost $750USD!), and this was without the thin but important scholarly index/commentary supplement. Needless to say, I left without the two-volume set. I didn’t leave empty-handed though. I picked up a few “new” titles to add to my growing Kamigata rakugo/ Osaka culture library.