Freedom from Dissertating 論文からの解放

Since moving to Tokyo last September, I have spent most of my time in the Waseda University library, writing my dissertation. I finished last week and sent copies to my committee. I had a great time researching and writing about Kamigata rakugo, but am happy to be wrapping things up.

I still have some things to do to prepare for defense next month, but I took the last few days off to recharge. I’ve been meaning to go to the Edo-Tokyo Museum for some time, so yesterday, I decided to ride my bike over and spend the day there. 

Gojō Tenjin Shrine annual matsuri, UenoI live pretty close to Ueno Park. As I rode around Shinobazu Pond, I heard some Japanese drums, bells, and flutes playing in the distance–my kind of music! As I neared the south end of Ueno Park, I found the Gojō Tenjin Shrine matsuri (festival) in full swing. The timing could not have been better. 

After watching for a few minutes, I peddled west on Kasuga-dōri, crossed the Sumida River, then headed south to the museum. I parked my bike and walked past the Ryōgoku Kokugikan (also known as the Sumō Hall). I was just in time to see a procession of rikishi (sumō wrestlers) making their way into the Hall. I later learned that the yokozuna Hakuhō won his 29th title at the Emperor’s Cup that day. 

Edo-Tokyo MuseumThe Edo-Tokyo Museum complex is huge and the exhibits are fabulous. Two of the attractions are life-size replicas of the Nakamura-za, a kabuki theater, and a section of early modern Japan’s most famous bridge, Nihonbashi. My favorite part of the museum are the exhibits featuring early modern Edo chōnin (townsman, i.e., commoner) life. This is because they give me better ideas of the kinds of places where rakugo stories take place.

Hayashi Shōzō otoshibanashi-goyaSpeaking of rakugo, the art did not have this name prior to the Meiji period (1868-1912). Popular comic storytelling was referred to by a number of names over the past three hundred years or so. One of the more recent ones was otoshibanashi. In a wonderfully detailed model of the Ryōgoku area, one of Edo’s greatest entertainment districts, there is a otoshibanashi hall featuring the storyteller Hayashiya Shōzō I (1781-1842). Assuming that the model is accurate, yose in the past were much smaller than the yose we know today, which seat around 200 to 300 people. Hayashiya Shōzō’s yose looks like it could hold about fifty people, or one hundred at the very maximum. Of course there were many more yose in those days. In the immediate vicinity are a number of other theaters small and large, and a row of hairdressers. 

Katsura Utasuke, Edo-Tokyo MuseumThis was really my lucky day. As if the day was not good enough already, today turned out to be one of the few days each month when rakugo is presented at the museum! Today’s rakugoka was Katsura Utamaru’s second deshi, Katsura Utasuke. He performed a shinsaku piece called Ramen-ya (The Ramen Shop). Yanagi Nangyoku was also on hand to present kyokugoma (top spinning tricks). 

I had a great time at the museum, but hardly had enough time to look at all of the exhibits as long as I would have liked. I will just have to go back again. The Edo-Tokyo Museum is very reasonable at just ¥600 for general admission (¥480 for students).

Kaiten-zushiAll of that traditional Japanese culture made me want to have Japanese food for dinner. I rode my bike back to Ueno and enjoyed a few plates of sushi. The perfect way to wrap up a my “field trip.”

I think I am now fully recharged, ready to set my mind on defending my dissertation in Hawaii next month. It is hard to believe that my life as a graduate student will soon come to an end. I am not yet sure where I will work yet, but I do know that Japanese culture and food will continue being important parts of my life.  



Ryōgoku Kokugikan僕は上野公園の近くに住んでいます。不忍池を回っているところで、大好きな和太鼓、鉦、笛の音が耳に入り、上野公園の南側に着くと、なんと、五條天神社例大祭の最中ではないですか!なんといういいタイミングでしょう。



Otoshibanashi-goya落語ということばですが、明治時代以前は「落語」と呼ばれていませんでした。300年ぐらい前から大衆滑稽話芸・舌耕芸はそれぞれの名前がありまして、わりと最近のは「オトシバナシ」でした。博物館には、江戸の盛り場であった両国辺りの詳細な模型に、落しばなしの小屋があります。のぼりに林家正蔵(初代、1781-1842)の名前が見えます。模型が正しければ、昔の寄席は今の寄席より小さかったです。現在の寄席は200人~300人も入れますが、模型の中の林家正蔵の小屋は50人(無理して100人?)ぐらいしか入らなさそうです。まあ、確かにその当時の寄席は今より多かったですが… 落しばなしの小屋の周辺には他の劇場、大きいのも小さいのも、色々あります。髪結いさんもたくさん並んでいます。

Rakugo from old Nihonbashi今日はいいことがたくさんありましたが、これで終わらなかったです。博物館では、中村座の前でイベントをやるんですが、今日は偶然落語が一席ありました。今日の落語家は桂歌丸師匠の2番弟子である桂歌助さんで、「ラーメン屋」という新作落語をしました。これにやなぎ南玉さんの曲駒までもあって、本当にラッキーでした。





Symposium at University of Oregon! オレゴン大学でシンポジウムが行なわれます!


I am now in Oregon visiting family and taking care of a little business.

This Saturday, I will participate in a symposium titled “The Art of Traditional Japanese Theater,” being held at the University of Oregon.

The symposium will also feature Laurence Kominz of Portland State University, Alan Pate of Alan Scott Pate Antique Japanese Dolls, and Glynne Walley of University of Oregon.

This will be an afternoon of lectures exploring the nô, kyôgen, bunraku, and kabuki traditions behind the art on display in the exhibit of the same name in the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

This lecture series is presented by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at UO.  It is cosponsored by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) and the Department of the History of Art and Architecture.

Time: Saturday, February 22 at 1:00pm to 4:oopm

Place: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Ford Lecture Hall 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, OR, 97403 

Price: FREE!

Open to students and the general public.

For more information, please call 541-346-1521.


今週の土曜日は、オレゴン大学で行われる「日本伝統演劇の芸術」(The Art of Traditional Japanese Theater) というシンポジウムに参加させていただきます。




日時 2月22日(土)13時〜16時

会場 ジョーダンシュニッツァー美術館のフォードレクチャーホール  1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, OR, 97403

入場料 無料



Toronto トロント

I had a great time in Toronto at the Association for Asian Studies meeting. I learned a lot at various panels, and my group’s rakugo panel also went well. Tonight I head back to Japan, stopping in Tokyo for a few days before returning to Osaka.



Off to Tokyo これから東京へ

I will be taking a short research trip to Tokyo, beginning today. My list of places to visit includes:

  1. “Old Book Town” in Jinbôchô
  2. Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University
  3. At least a couple yose
If I find anything especially interesting, I will be sure take photos and make mini-posts from my iPhone.
Since I will be away from my desk for several days, here are the “TODAY’S KOTOWAZA” for the period I’ll be gone:
  • January 28: 白羽の矢が立つ (shiraha no ya ga tatsu)。Arrows with white feathers stand out (i.e., special ones will be chosen).
  • January 29: 人の噂も七十五日 (hito no uwasa mo shichi jû go nichi)。Rumors last but 75 days (i.e., don’t lose sleep over them)
  • January 30: 人を謀れば人に謀らる (hito o hakareba hito ni hakararu)。Conspire against others and they will conspire against you.
  • January 31: 捨てる神あれば拾う神あり (suteru kami areba hirô kami ari)。If there is a god to throw you out, there is a god to pick you up (i.e., when one door shuts, another opens).
  • February 1: 念には念を入れよ (nen ni wa nen o ireyo)。Put precaution into your precaution.

Let’s give a big hand to MARK J. in Sydney, Australia for this week’s “SENRYÛ OF THE WEEK”! 

  • The month of flowers / color of red plum blossoms / I come from the bath.  花の月紅梅ごとき湯上がりや (ume no tsuki kôbai gotoki yu agari ya)。¹

Nice work Mark! 

Edo (old Tokyo), here I come!

¹ The Japanese translation is my own.


  1. 神保町の古本街
  2. 坪内逍遥記念演劇博物館
  3. 取り合えず、寄席二席ほど
しばらく机の近くに居られないので、東京に居る間の「TODAY’S KOTOWAZA」をここに (上 ↑) アップさせていただきます。

今週の「THIS WEEK’S SENRYÛ」はオストラリアのシドニー市に住んでいるマークJ.さんに届けていただきました。

  • The month of flowers / color of red plum blossoms / I come from the bath.  花の月紅梅ごとき湯上がりや (ume no tsuki kôbai gotoki yu agari ya)。¹

マークさん、ナイスジョッブ & ありがとうございました!


¹ 日本語訳は僕のです。

“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