Tarento-Hanashika タレント・噺家

Yamasaki Hôsei, property of Today I learned on Twitter (@rakugonews) that the popular Yoshimoto comedian Yamasaki Hôsei (44, a.k.a. Yamachan) will soon begin a rakugo apprenticeship under Kamigata rakugo master Tsukitei Happô. Yamasaki’s rakugo name will be Tsukitei Hôsei.

It is no secret that aspiring performers occasionally try to use the rakugo world as a stepping stone to reach the more lucrative world of TV and other popular media. After all, formal rakugo training can offer a number of the tools necessary in becoming good talkers and marketable entertainers.

Interestingly, there seems to be a pattern developing for so-called “tarento,” generally TV personalities and/or comedians, to come to the rakugo world for training. It was not terribly surprising earlier in the year when Watanabe Atsumu (43, a.k.a. Nabe’atsu) entered the artistic school of hanashikatarento Katsura Sanshi (now Bunshi VI), but I was a little surprised when I heard that Yamasaki will be joining Happô.

The big question is WHY? Rakugo offers limited exposure and therefore cannot promise the kind of returns regular work in TV can bring. So, if it’s not about money, is it about the genuine desire to improve one’s art? Could it be about a fondness of rakugo, or genuine concern for the art’s future? Is it about personal legacy, or is it simply a gimmick?

Perhaps Katsura Sanshi’s relative absence from and successful return to Kamigata Rakugo following an illustrious 30+ year career in TV, and his recent ascension to his master’s name insprired tarento to think they too could make it as hanashika. Or maybe the current rakugo boom is affecting even TV stars.

According to Mantan Web (Yomiuri Shinbun Digital), Yamasaki has long had a strong desire to challenge himself with something other than working as a tarento. In addition to his friend Higashino Kôji suggesting rakugo rakugo in 2008, he also listened the late Katsura Shijaku’s version of the rakugo story Kôzu no tomi. This made him realize the appeal that rakugo has.

Whatever the reasons tarento want to become hanashika, one thing is clear. They will bring new fans to rakugo. We can only be grateful for this. The thing that is not clear, however, especially since they are also continuing their “day jobs,” is the impact they will have on the rakugo world. Will they ever be able to perform the kind of rakugo old rakugo masters and die-hard rakugo fans expect, or will they help redefine rakugo in a new era?

I like rakugo, so I would like to cheer them on in either case. There may be something fun in all of it.

今朝、ツイッター (@rakugonews)でこんな記事を見ました。吉本のお笑い芸人、山崎邦正(44、愛称 やまちゃん)が2013年1月より月亭八方師匠のもとで落語修業を始め、落語芸名は「月亭方正」となる…


しかし、面白いことに、最近はこれとは逆のパターンがよく見られます。既に知名度のあるタレントが落語の世界に入り、一から修業を始めているのです。渡辺鐘(43、愛称 ナベアツ、 芸名 桂三度)氏が、噺家・タレントである桂三枝(現 六代文枝)師匠の一門に入ったことにはあまりびっくりしませんでしたが、山崎氏が八方師匠に入門するニュースを聞いた時は、ちょっとびっくりしました。






Congratulations Somemaru 師匠、おめでとうございます

Tonight I attended the Kiwametsuki Somemaru no kai, the show held to commemorate Somemaru’s 45th year as a hanashika, and 20th year with the professional name Somemaru.

The show was more wonderful than I could have anticipated. I — and the packed Nanba Grand Kagetsu Theater — was dazzled all night. It was obvious that much work went into making this an unforgettable show.

I was honored to be part of the audience, and am honored to call Somemaru my shishô.

Somemaru shishô, congratulations on a terrific show, and on 45 years of rakugo. May you remain healthy and prosperous for years to come!





Historic Event for Kamigata Rakugo 上方落語の歴史約な行事

On Friday, December 16, 2011, I am going to witness Kamigata Rakugo history first-hand.

If you can make it to the Osaka area this day, won’t you join me?

Yoshimoto Creative Agency is putting on a special two-part show starring Hayashiya Somemaru IV and friends (and pupils) to commemorate his 45 years as a hanashika and 20 years since ascending to the historic name Somemaru.

WHO: Hayashiya Somemaru, Katsura Sanshi, Tsukitei Happô, Miyakawa Daisuke and Hanako, Hayashiya Someji, Hayashiya Usagi, et al.

WHAT: Kiwametsuki Somemaru no Kai (The Ultimate Somemaru Show); part one will include a formal address (kôjô), manzai, and rakugo, including the story “Yodogorô” by Somemaru. Part two will consist of a Bakushô Kabuki (Gut-buster Kabuki) version of the Okaru Kanpei michiyuki section of the classic Kanadehon chûshingura, starring Sanshi (Kanpei), Somemaru (Okaru), and Happô (Bannai), complete with a supporting cast made up of Somemaru’s pupils. There will even be a full Kiyomoto ensemble.

Tickets: ¥3500 in advance or ¥4000 on the day of (tickets will probably sell out beforehand). For information call Ticket Yoshimoto at 0570-036-912 or the Rinseikai Offices at 06-6355-4659. You can get advance tickets at the Nanba Grand Kagetsu ticket window, Ticket Pia, or any 7-11, Circle K, or Sankus convenience stores.

(If you would like assistance in English, please leave a comment below ↓)

WHEN: Friday, December 16, 2011. Doors open at 6:30pm, show begins at 7pm.

WHERE: Nanba Grand Kagetsu Theater, Osaka, Japan.

Congratulations Somemaru shishô!










Hanjôtei’s 5th Anniversary 繁昌亭5周年

Today marks five years since the Hanjôtei opened to the public on September 15, 2006. The day began with a formal ceremony, followed by a press release. There was plenty of rakugo on the bill as usual, but the day’s main attraction was “Bakushô (lit. explosive laughter) Kabuki,” a hanashika rendition of the famous play Kanjinchô (The Subscription List). The three stars of the show were Tsukitei Happô (Togachi Saemon), Hayashiya Somemaru (Minamoto no Yoshitsune), and Katsura Sanshi (Musashibô Benkei).

I attended the day’s opening show. The costumes and makeup were outstanding, all applied by theatre professionals. The actors were even better, getting laugh after continuous laugh from the audience. Throughout the show kakegoe (emotional cheers of support, often heard in kabuki theaters), came from all directions.

Bakushô Kabuki” was staged just prior to intermission, so I imagine Somemaru had no break as he rushed to get out of costume, remove his thick makeup (quite difficult, messy, and time-consuming), get into his own kimono, and get ready to go on as the morning show’s headliner.

Bakushô Kabuki was staged three times today, so all people involved, especially the stars, must have been quite exhausted come the end of the day. They did this for an important cause though; to celebrate the Hanjôtei’s fifth anniversary, which wouldn’t have been possible without a supportive and enthusiastic public.

Congratulations on five years Hanjôtei! Thank you for a wonderful show everybody. Otsukaresama de gozaimashita.

I couldn’t take pictures during the show, but I should be able to get some taken by public media in the coming days. In the meantime, here are some shots from the pre-morning show festivities (left, and below).