Shime-daiko 締太鼓

Today was lesson day at Somemaru’s. In addition to my shamisen lesson, I also learned how to tighten a shime-daiko, which has to be slackened after every use in order to preserve the taut animal skin. The reason I wanted to learn how to do this is because I will buy a shime-daiko of my own before returning to the United States. If I am going to teach college students how to play, organize amateur yose productions, and host professionals in the future, I will to need to know how to use and care for this instrument properly.

Tightening and securing a shime-daiko takes a lot of muscle. In the yose, you use your hands, legs and feet – and two bachi (drum sticks) – for the job, and it can be dangerous if your not careful…  I was taught a couple ways to do tighten a shime-daiko today, both of which I was advised not do in front of practitioners of noh theater, which also regularly uses this drum. Somemaru has a rare book about the proper way to care for and play shime-daiko, so I made a copy of this for future reference.

Somemaru was very kind to give me an introduction to a respected taiko maker, the Maruoka family, which has been in business since Meiji 3 (1870). Somemaru and other professionals in various arts (e.g., noh, kabuki, etc.) rely on Maruoka Taiko for quality instruments. This is the kind of store you would do well to have an introduction to, and call before going. As with any instrument, there is a very wide range of prices, but what I found most interesting is that you do not simply go in and buy a drum. You discuss your needs – and budget – then the drum maker recommends a selected combination of parts: animal skin (kawa) for drum head and base, wooden body (), and cords (shirabe). Of course one also needs things such as bachi, a stand (teren), and a case for transport.

Finally, all Maruoka drums are handmade, and orders can take up to one or two months. This is perfect for me since I need at least that much time to save the money it will cost. I am excited to get my own shime-daiko and begin practicing. I should probably apologize to my neighbors ahead of time…

今日、師匠のお宅でお稽古日でした。三味線のお稽古と共に締太鼓の締め方を習わせていただきました。皮を守るため、締太鼓を使った後毎回毎々緩めないといけないことまでも… なぜ締め方を習いたかったというと、アメリカに帰国する前に締太鼓を買い求めようと思っているからです。将来に大学生に鳴り物を教えたり、素人落語会を行ったり、プロ噺家をアメリカに招待したりするのであれば、やはり自分で叩くようにならないといけないし、ちゃんと楽器のケアもしないといけません。


とてもありがたいことに、この間、師匠が評判の高い太鼓のお店に紹介してくださいました。丸岡太鼓店 (創業明治3年) と言いますが、染丸師匠のみならず、他の演劇(能楽、歌舞伎など)のプロにも信用されているお店だそうです。このようなお店では、ご紹介があった方がいいでしょうし、本社に訪ねる際、先にお電話していった方もいいかもしれません。どんな楽器にしても同じですが、締太鼓は幅広い価格帯で販売されています。僕にとって最も興味深かったのは、締太鼓一丁をそのまま買うんではなく、太鼓を何に使うや、予算などの相談の上、適当な部品 (皮、胴、しらべ) を進んでくださいます。もちろんですが、バチもテレンもケースも必要です。



Hayashiya Somemaru Profile in English 師匠の英語プロフィール

While this blog is titled “Kamigata Rakugo and Me,” it could easily be retitled “Kamigata Rakugo and Me, and Somemaru.” I am quite indebted to Somemaru, and am lucky to spend so much time with him. Since I frequently write about him I decided to post a MASTER SOMEMARU profile page, the link to which you can click here, or find at the top of this site. Please take a look when you have a chance.


The World of Yosebayashi 寄席囃子の世界

Today was a red-letter day. In commemoration of the publication of his “life work,” Kamigata rakugo yosebayashi no sekai (The World of Kamigata Rakugo Yose Music, Sôgensha Press 2011), Somemaru held a special concert that offered the audience a unique behind-the-scenes look at the hayashi orchestra in action, which is usually hidden from audience view. Even ichiban daiko and niban daiko (first and second drum, respectively, with which audiences are beckoned) were performed in audience view.

The bulk of the show consisted of a major yosebayashi recital (with three shamisen players!), but also included were several informative–and entertaining–talks by Somemaru, a hilarious geisha-parody ongyoku (musical) manzai performance by Anesama Kings (Katsura Ayame & Hayashiya Somejaku), rakugo by Hayashiya Someza and Somemaru, and the formal announcement that six of Somemaru’s shamisen pupils were being given the professional name Hayashiya. The show was ended in proper yosebayashi fashion, with wakare daiko (the parting drum, used to send audiences on their way after shows). Somemaru played drums and another instruments throughout the show, and, since it is generally the lower-level hanashika who play percussion instruments, this was a unique treat.

Somemaru publishing a book such as this one–which includes more than 200 songs on four CDs, sheet music for all songs, and much commentary–and putting on a show like tonight’s sends a message not only to general readers and the audience that music (yosebayashi, hamemono, etc.) is important–indispensable–to the art, but it also sends a strong message to performers–many of whom fail to see that Kamigata Rakugo without music would cease to be Kamigata Rakugo.

During my time with Katsura Bunshi V (1930-2005), he spoke to me about the importance of music in Kamigata Rakugo, and his concern that the former might soon die out. I know for a fact that Bunshi shishô, whose repertoire was loaded with music-filled stories, would be proud of the work that Somemaru has done and continues to do. In many regards, Somemaru is ensuring that the next generation will enjoy Kamigata Rakugo the way his predecessors meant it to be enjoyed. Because of this, Hayashiya Somemaru IV is a living national treasure who only needs to be officially recognized as such.





Practice Day お稽古日

Today was a shamisen practice day at Somemaru’s. I’ve written in past blogs about what goes on on practice days, so won’t lay it out again in this post. I haven’t shown any pictures of practice, so today I’ll share the view from the master’s chair, from which he also gives rakugo lessons.


Rakugo Laughing Fits 落語泣き笑い

This morning Somemaru needed to do some more recording for his book, so we planned to meet at the Hanjôtei–about a mile from my place–at 9 a.m. He trusted me to take his performance shamisen home with me last night and bring it this morning. This was an honor, yet quite a responsibility. I’ve heard that this particular shamisen is worth around $20,000USD, but it is most certainly priceless to Somemaru and his artistic school. I’m sure some of his pupils would have cried if they knew he sent this shamisen home with me…

There were too many people around at the Hanjôtei today for me to go on another “exploration,” so I enjoyed  the live music while reading a couple reference books that zenza use to look up stories, hanashika names, and spelling when filling out the neta-chô during shows.

These books are Rakugo jiten (The Rakugo Encyclopedia, Tôdai Rakugokai 1969) and Kamigata rakugoka meikan (The Kamigata Rakugo Storyteller Directory, Hanjôtei and Kamigata Rakugo Kyôkai [eds.] 2006, 2010).

We returned to Somemaru’s house in the afternoon for a couple rakugo lessons, for Somekichi and Someza. I wrote about Somekichi learning the story Yadoya gataki in a recent blog. Today was his third practice session. To my untrained ears it sounds like he is making good progress. According to Somemaru this is a very challenging story, and very long. Depending on the version, it can last as long as 45 minutes!

Somemaru can be a strict master, but he is also compassionate, as I witnessed once again today. For some reason Somekichi got caught up in a giggle fit that lasted about 15 minutes! Somemaru didn’t loose his temper or anything. In fact, he couldn’t help himself from joining in (to the point of tears at times) and letting the laughter run its course. I guess if hanashika can’t enjoy fun like this in their art, there’s no way they can expect their audiences to.



昼から師匠の家に戻り、染吉さんと染左さんの噺のお稽古がありました。以前、染吉の「宿屋敵」のお稽古についてブログを書きましたが、今日は第三回でした。染丸師匠によるとこの噺はとても難しいし、とても長いそうです。場合によっては、45分かかるときもあります。 もちろん、師匠は厳しいときもあるんですが、とても思いやりのある方です。今日、それをまた改めて感じました。お稽古中に、なぜか、染吉さんが笑ってしまって、15分間くらい止められなかったんです。それに怒らず、逆にそのまま流して一緒に泣き笑いしてあげました。噺家さんが自分自身の芸を楽しむことができなかったら、お客様を楽しませることこともできないでしょう。