My Brother Loves Japan’s Plums 我が弟梅好き

Yesterday Philip and I went to Osaka Castle Park to enjoy the beautiful and fragrant plum tree orchard, which is now in full bloom. So far he has enjoyed trying new foods, riding trains, and exploring supermarkets, but he seems to have loved the plums trees in full bloom more than anything. He was thoroughly impressed and took many pictures.

Today we will go watch day one of the Osaka Grand Sumô tournament.

We will also be thinking of all the victims and families affected by the 3/11/2011 Tôhoku Megaquake and subsequent tsunamis and nuclear disasters. Today marks one year since the tragedies, but there are still many people displaced, and affected areas are still in the process of recovering. Please consider making even a small contribution to relief organizations such as the Japanese Red Cross (link on side bar →).

Amateur Rakugo 素人落語

Tonight I went to “Lil’ Farm,” an establishment that doubles as a old-fashioned Shôwa-period coffee shop (run by the owners in the daytime) and bar (run by their son in the evening). This place is just steps from my apartment and I have stopped by for both coffee and beer in the past.

The reason I am writing about Lil’ Farm my blog is that an amateur rakugo charity event was held to benefit the victims of the March Tôhoku Earthquake and subsequent disasters. I am all for charity and beer, but add rakugo to the mix and you cannot count me out. The son who runs the bar at night occasionally performs rakugo himself as an amateur. His stage name is Taco Rice. 

Photo property of "八尾女子!"

Taco Rice didn’t make a stage appearance tonight, but three energetic, young women performed one rakugo story each. Two performed traditional stories, Dôbutsuen (The Zoo) and Ko home (Complimenting a Child [for Saké]), while the other performed an original piece called Sekkusulesu fûfu (The Sexless Couple). All three wore kimono, and did a wonderful job. The three girls are all from Osaka (Yao City) and currently reside in Tokyo, trying to make it in the professional entertainment (acting and singing) industry. They occasionally perform together as the Yao Joshi! (Girls of Yao!).

Though the audience’s age ranged from 3 to 70, most were in their 20s and 30s. Not surprisingly, this was the first time for most to hear rakugo performed live or otherwise. This particular crowd is heavily involved in the Osaka hip-hop and reggae scenes, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that most people were able to appreciate something so “traditional” as rakugo. The fact that tonight’s performers are also involved in “cooler” endeavors such as trying to make it in the Tokyo entertainment world may have helped put a “cool” stamp on rakugo this evening. I hope that tonight’s amateur show inspired some people in the audience to want to go and listen to professionals narrate stories at real yose.

A very fun show, for a very good cause! Thank you Lil’ Farm!






Kamigata Rakugo Charity 上方落語の慈善

Last night while at the Hanjôtei for Somemaru’s show I noticed that their was a box in the dressing room for donations to the Red Cross of Japan, to be used to help those in northern Japan affected by the recent disasters. I was impressed by this, but absolutely amazed when I saw posted the amount (with receipt from the Red Cross) donated in cash on April 1, 2011: ¥7,000,000 (≈ $80,000USD)! The total collected by the Hanjôtei (Kamigata Rakugo Association) as of April 7 was ¥7,174,123 (≈ $84,650USD)! It looks like Osaka hanashika and their fans alike are joining the masses, working hard to help the very unfortunate. Respectable indeed.