To Master’s House 師匠のお宅へ

Front door at Somemaru'sThe most important part of this short trip to Osaka is to pay a visit to master Somemaru.

He had time yesterday, so I went to see him at his house. It was wonderful to see him in person, to see him smile and laugh. We talked about many things rakugo-related and not, and he gave me advice on a lot of matters.

Around 5pm he asked me to pull his car around, then we drove to the supermarket. We selected ingredients for nabe (hotpot), then headed home. Just like old times, we prepared dinner together.

Someya arrived just in time for dinner. The three of us talked about a lot and enjoyed many laughs while eating. Somemaru and Someya shared some of their views on performing rakugo, in fact said some things that made me change the way I look at the art, reconsider the way I will approach it as an amateur performer in the future.

Toward the end of dinner, the conversation moved to the topic of Someya’s momentous name change (shûmei) to Hayashiya Kikumaru III next September. He asked Somemaru for advice on a number of matters, and I was able to see that shûmei are not simply ceremonies that people attend.

There is so much to think about and prepare, the simplest of matters perhaps being selecting a design for one’s new tenugui (hand towel), of which hundreds are made and given as formal gifts to other professionals and fans.

Somemaru and Someya looking at tenuguiLast night we spent a good deal of time looking through traditional tenugui pattern books and at actual tenugui, of which Somemaru has an impressive collection. Someya did not make a final decision, but said he would like to keep his new design simple and perhaps include a traditional tenugui chrysanthemum design if he can find one–this would represent the Kiku part of his new name. Nice!

Speaking of tenugui, Someya was very kind to present me with one of his own Hayashiya Someya tenugui, which are quickly becoming a rare item. He also gave me a nice brochure about his shûmei, which Yoshimoto prepared for distribution at a recent press conference.

We topped off the evening with tea and ice cream. Someya and I bowed to Somemaru and thanked him for dinner and everything else, then we were on our way. We took the same train toward Umeda then later said our goodbyes.

Shortly thereafter, I reached into my coat pocket to get some eye drops, and what did I find? Somemaru’s CAR KEY! WHAT!! I forgot to return it after driving to the supermarket. I gasped and looked at my watch, but it was too late in the evening to return to Somemaru’s.

So, this morning I made another trip to Somemaru’s house to return his car key and sheepishly apologize. When Somemaru saw me he smiled and said, “Okay, no worries.” I guess my thick-headed mistake gave me another opportunity to thank him for such nice day yesterday.





食事も終わりに近づいた頃、来年9月の「染弥改メ 三代目林家菊丸」の襲名についてのお話になりました。襲名は、お客さまに披露するためであるのはもちろん、そのためにさまざまな準備があるということがわかりました。







With Knowledge Comes Joy 知るは喜びなり

Kakejiku by SomemaruOne of my greatest treasures is a hanging scroll (kakejiku) that Somemaru presented me with prior to my leaving Japan last March.

Somemaru has an incredible collection of kakejiku, so, when he gave me a long rectangular box wrapped in crêpe silk before I left, I wondered if it might not be a one from his collection. I opened the box and found a kakejiku, but I could not have been more surprised by what I saw!

The artist was Somemaru, and the subject was ME!

I couldn’t find the words to say…

I was so touched that I felt as if I was going to cry.

I love the work in general, but I especially appreciate the peacefulness with which Somemaru painted me. While my lips seem to be anticipating something, there is a perfect serenity to my eyes.

Sometimes, when I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, I like to gaze at this kakejiku. I admit that it is somewhat strange to gaze at myself, but this piece of art feels like a mirror that reflects something deeper, something more meaningful than an actual mirror might.

Somemaru’s art presents me in an emotional state of mind that I would like to arrive at.

The Japanese reads, “With Knowledge Comes Joy” (Shiru wa yorokobi nari). Since I am still in the middle of my learning, this is perfect.

This is a truly meaningful gift which I shall always treasure.

Thank you again Master Somemaru.


師匠はすばらしい掛け軸のコレクションを持っていらっしゃいますが、出発する前にちりめんに巻かれた長方形の箱を渡してくださったときは、「えっ!もしかして〜」と思いました。箱を開けますと、掛け軸でしたが、それを拝見し とってもビックリしました。










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。