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!

今晩は「リルファーム」という店に行きました。この店は昭和時代のコーヒーハウスでもあり(デイタイムに夫婦のオーナーがご担当)、バーでもあります(夜にご長男がご担当)。この店が僕のアパートのすぐ近くなので、たまにここでコーヒーやビールをいただいています。

このブログでリルファームについて書く理由は、今晩東北大震災の避難者のためのアマチュア落語チャリティーイベントが行われていたからです。僕はチャリティーもビールも大好きですが、そのコンビに落語も入れたら、最高ですね。夜のバーを担当している長男さんは時々アマチュアとして落語を演じることもあるみたいです。芸名は何とタコライスです。

今晩、タコライスは高座に上がらなかったですが、エネルギーたっぷりの若い女性3人が一席ずつ語っていました。2人は古い噺である「動物園」と「子ほめ」をして、もう1人が「セックスレス夫婦」という創作落語を演じていました。3人とも着物を着ていて、とてもよかったです。この3人は大阪の八尾市出身で、現在東京に暮らしてプロを目指して劇団やシンガー活動をしているらしいです。この3人はたまに「八尾女史」というお笑いコンビでも活躍しています。

今晩の客層が3歳から70歳ぐらいまでと幅広かったですが、主に20代と30代がほとんどでした。びっくりするほどのことではないですが、(テレビも含めて)落語が初めての方が多かったです。実は、今日のお客さんは大阪のヒップホップ・レゲエ音楽で活躍している方が多くて、伝統芸能である落語も楽しんでいるところを見て、僕は本当に嬉しかったです。今日の演者が「クール」な活躍をしていることによって、今晩は落語も「クール」という判をもらえたかもしれないですが、今日のお客さんがこれをきっかけに、寄席でプロの落語を聴きたくなってくれるといいですね。

今日のショーはとても楽しかったし、素敵なチャリティーでした、。リルファーム、ありがとうございました。

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.

昨日、染丸師匠のショーのため繁昌亭にお邪魔していたとき、東日本大震災救援募金箱が楽屋においてありました。これを見て感動しましたが、廊下にある掲示板に4月1日に日本の赤十字に渡した募金の金額(領収書)を見てさらに驚きました。700万円!!4月7日までに繁昌亭(上方落語協会)に集まった募金はなんと7,174,123万円!大阪の噺家もそのファンも被災された方たちのために頑張っているみたいですね。尊敬します。