Another Old Name Renewed: Bun’nosuke もう一つ名跡復活、文之助

Bun'nosuke III. Photo property of Rakuten Tickets ( Sports ran the following article today:

Katsura Jakumatsu Becomes Katsura Bun’nosuke III

On October 6, Kamigata rakugoka Katsura Jakumatsu (57) took the name Katsura Bun’nosuke III. To mark the occasion he appeared in a name ascension ceremony and performance in Osaka. This is the first time the name Katsura Bun’nosuke has been used in 83 years. Katsura Bun’nosuke III commented on his goals after the show: “I want to keep practicing, and bring a new presence of mind to the stage.”

In addition to other members of the Katsura Beichô school¹ being present during the opening address (kôjô), Kamigata Rakugo Association Chairperson Katsura Bunshi and Vice Chairperson Shôfukutei Tsurube were also on hand. Bunshi told the audience, “He is a dexterous and versatile entertainer who can perform both the classics and original pieces.  I look forward to him furthering the greatness of this name.”


桂雀松 「桂文之助」三代目を襲名



¹ Bun’nosuke III is a pupil of the late Katsura Shijaku, who was Katsura Beichô direct pupil. 三代文之助は故桂枝雀の弟子で、枝雀は桂米朝の直弟子。Article 記事へ


Hayashiya Someya to Become Kikumaru III 林家染弥が三代目菊丸に

Today I read some fabulous news on the news site Mainichi JP. Somemaru’s number 6 pupil will be promoted to the illustrious name Hayashiya Kikumaru. The following is my translation of the story.

Rakugo — Someya to Receive the Name Hayashiya Kikumaru III: A Big Name from the Meiji Period is Resurrected

Mainichi Newspaper,  September 28, 2013  –  5:00 a.m.

Yoshimoto Creative Agency announced on the 27th that Hayashiya Somemaru school rakugoka Hayashi Someya (39) will be promoted to the name Hayashiya Kikumaru III next September. Kikumaru is an illustrious name in Somemaru’s artistic family line. The last Kikumaru was a popular storyteller in the Meiji period. According to entertainment history scholar Maeda Kenji, it appears that he died around 1900. This will be the first time the name has been used in 115 years.

Someya is from Mie Prefecture and joined Somemaru’s school in 1994. This year, he received the Art Encouragement Award at the Osaka Cultural Festival. Someya stated that, “Next year is my twentieth year since joining Somemaru’s school. I am looking at this year as my rakugo coming of age ceremony (rakugoka toshite no seijin shiki), so I will do my best to grow into this great name.”

Somemaru, who has been undergoing treatment and rehabilitation for a cerebral infarction since June, also attended the press conference and stated, “I want to work hard to get better in time for the name ascension. About Someya, he said, “he’s learned how present classic stories (koten rakugo) in a contemporary fashion, and he has a good character. He’s going to be taking a big name; I hope he lives up to it.”

The first Kikumaru brought recognition to the Hayashiya name in Kamigata at the end of the Edo period (1600-1868), and his biological son became the second Kikumaru. Kikumaru I is thought to have composed the rakugo classics Horikawa and Fudôbô, among others.


Previous posts on Kikumaru and Someya.


落語:三代目林家菊丸 染弥さん襲名へ 明治の大看板復活

毎日新聞 2013年09月28日 05時00分







Sarutahiko Daijin: Against Shûmei? 猿田彦大神: 襲名反対?

Yesterday I posted the following bit on Twitter (in Japanese):

Today, on Master Sanshi’s blog: “Immediately after my offertory rakugo it started raining. I am guarded by Sarutahiko Daijin.” In Japan when it suddenly starts raining like this, is this a common expression/belief? In the US and elsewhere we usually say “God is crying.” There are all kinds in the world.

And now, this news just in from Suponichi anekkusu makes one wonder about the possibility of divine intervention…

Katsura Sanshi: Taxi Ride in a Jam, ¥140,000, Bill Yoshimoto?

Katsura Sanshi (68), who will ascend to the historic Kamigata Rakugo name Katsura Bunshi this July, visited the Sarutahiko Shrine in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, on February 22. There he prayed for a successful name-change [shûmei] celebration tour, which will begin on July 16, and last about a year and a half.

To get started on the right foot, since the god Sarutahiko Daijin is believed to help guide affairs in the right direction, Sanshi performed at the shrine the story Taiken shita bakari, which has to do with a taxi. It so happened that Sanshi’s apprentice brought with him the wrong size of kimono, so they had to leave their Ise hotel at 11pm by taxi, making a round trip to Sanshi’s home in Ikeda City, to pick up the proper habutae kimono. Recounting the hectic events Sanshi said, “We returned at 5:30am.” Not forgetting to express gratitude to the god of the shrine, he added, “It was by the grace of Sarutahiko Daijin that we could return safely, and feel refreshed despite the lack of sleep.”

Considering such a happening, Sanshi decided to change the story to one of his originals at the last minute. In a press conference that followed, he said with satisfaction, “I kind of felt that I could hear the god chuckling.” He also joked, “I meant to ask the god if I should send the ¥140,000 taxi bill to Yoshimoto, but forgot. I’m sure he would say ‘send it!'” Having announced his name-change celebration tour before the god, he also said with a tightened expression, “It’s hit me that this is all quite real.”




桂三枝 ハプニングでタクシー代14万円 吉本興業に請求する?




Christmas Carving クリスマス木彫り

This year I enjoyed another Christmas Eve at Somemaru’s house.

During the day I helped with some cleaning and decorated Somemaru’s balcony with Christmas lights.

As evening approached, we turned on the Christmas lights, and prepared dinner, which included an appetizer of fried chicken, a longtime Christmas favorite in Japan thanks to the marketing department at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The main dish was Hayashi-ya Rice, or hashed beef over rice, Somemaru-style. We began properly too; with sparkling wine and a toast.

And of course, after dinner came Christmas cake and tea.

As it is finally complete after several months of work, I chose this day to give Somemaru his wood carving. He seemed to like it, and that made me truly happy. (See below for captioned  photos of the carving.)

Somemaru also gave me a thoughtful gift this evening: a signed paperboard (shikishi) with a personalized greeting that reads, Matô ni ikiru shiawase (Happiness is living the way you see fit). [This is also a play on my name: Happiness is living like Matt.] 

Somemaru shishô, thank you for making Christmas special this year too.












Happy 45 Master Somemaru! 染丸師匠、45周年おめでとうございます。

I believe I have made it clear how fortunate I feel to have a close relationship with Hayashiya Somemaru IV. Without his kindness, friendship, and guidance, my time in Japan would be much less fruitful. Really, all of the great experiences and educational moments I am having here are thanks to him.

Today is an auspicious day as it marks the 45th year of Somemaru’s professional rakugo career. This blog serves as a testament of sorts to what a great man he is as a person and professional, but I fear I often fail to convey just how important to Kamigata rakugo his presence has been over the past 45 years, how important it continues to be. Truly, this art would be in a different place had he not chosen to dedicate his life to it.

I am deeply honored to know such a man, and to benefit from his tutelage.

Shishô, congratulations on 45 years of Kamigata rakugo! I am looking forward to the next 45.