Happy Birthday Somemaru! 師匠、お誕生日おめでとうございます!

Happy Birthday  Master Somemaru! 


Bunny Cake, photo property of http://myculinaryconfessions.wordpress.com

Students Make Teachers 生徒が先生を育てる

Curtain call 6.6.2013

In his book Kamigata rakugo wa doko e yuku (Where Will Kamigata Rakugo Go?), Katsura Fukudanji (1940-) writes that “it takes at least three days to prepare for a rakugo show.” Three days…  I suppose this is one of the things that separates professionals from amateurs.

Yobikoe (kyôgen)It took my students and I about seven weeks to prepare for our recent show, Drama! Dance! Drums! Granted, for most, it was their first time doing anything on stage, let alone Japanese performing arts. There were many firsts for me too. Still, we were able to bring everything together and give the audience a fast-paced and entertaining show.

My students made me very proud.

Dojô sukuiAnd they taught me a great deal about being a teacher. They asked terrific questions throughout the term that pushed me to be better informed about Japanese drama and music.

I hope my students learned as much as I did in the course of the term.

Great work everyone (otsukaresama deshita)!

Previous article → Show This Week

Rakugo 6.6.2013「上方落語はどこへ行く」という本の中に桂福団治師匠 (1940-) が、「ひとつの会をするのに、三日はかかる…」と書きました。三日…  これはプロの素人の違いの一つでしょうね。



Komai (Kaminari)それに、「先生」という役割について色々と気づかせてくれました。毎日とてもいい質問を聞いたり、日本の演劇や音楽などについてもうちょっと説明できるように考えさせてくれました。



先の記事を読む→ いよいよ今週

nihon.buyo2 Karakasa (kouta)Shibiri (kyôgen) ShishimaiNoh-butoh fusion Nihon buyôManzai Taiko

Show This Week いよいよ今週!

Vanguard article by Megan Fresh, May 30, 2013The Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University will present a show co-directed by Prof. Wynn Kiyama and myself, featuring a talented group of students in a grand showcase of Japanese performing arts.

Our students have worked very hard this term and are just about ready to go on! The show — DRAMA! DANCE! DRUMS! — is this week, and it is going to be a good one!

The show will include the following:

  • Komai (kyôgen dance)
  • Kouta (“little songs” with shamisen accompaniment)
  • Kyôgen (medieval farce)
  • Manzai (two-person stand-up comedy)
  • Nihon buyô (traditional dance)
  • Nô & butô dance fusion (a mix of medieval and modern)
  • Rakugo
  • Taiko (group drumming)

Drama! Dance! Drums! is on Thursday June 6, 2013 in the Recital Hall (rm. 75) at PSU’s Lincoln Hall. The show starts promptly at 7:30 p.m. FREE and open to the public.

We are getting great press for the show, and seats are limited. Be sure to arrive a little early for a memorable evening of Japanese performing arts!

Read the next article → Students Make Teachers


今学期、生徒さんはお稽古など一生懸命頑張り、舞台に出る準備はほとんどオーケーです。ショーは「演劇!踊!太鼓!」(DRAMA! DANCE! DRUMS!) と言いまして、とても楽しい一時となると思います。


  • 小舞
  • 小唄
  • 狂言
  • 漫才
  • 日本舞踊
  • 能と舞踏のフュージョン
  • 落語
  • 組太鼓


Drama! Dance! Drums! は2013年6月6日(木)の午後7時30分に開演いたします。会場はポートランド州立大学のキャンパス内にあるリンカーンホールの中のリサイタルホール(75号室)です。入場無料。


続きはこちら→ 「生徒が先生を育てる」

Drama Dance Drums flyer

Flyer チラシ

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。

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.