[Eishi’s Japanese Trivia 1] The Origin of “Kiseru”/ Japanese Pipe

Hi all, Eishi here!!! Hope you are having a fantastic day!!!

This morning I was doing a little research for my rakugo and encountered a very interesting trivia so decided to share it here 🙂

Have you ever seen traditional Japanese pipes before?

They look like the one in the photo above, and they are called “kiseru” (キセル). They were already in use in Japan in early 17th century.

It is usually spelled in the katakana writing system, which suggests that it is a foreign word, but I’d never thought it actually was… until today!!!

As it can also be written in kanji or Chinese characters (“煙管”: 煙=smoke; 管=pipe, tube), I had never doubted that it was a uniquely Japanese word.

I was completely wrong!!!

First of all, a Japanese pipe can be broken down into 3 different parts.

The metal tip where you put shredded tobacco is called “gankubi” (がんくび 雁首), which literally means “goose neck”. (* Technically, the very tip of gankubi where tobacco is put is called hizara or “fire dish”.)

The middle part, which is usually made of bamboo, is called “rao” or “rau” (らう 羅宇).

The metal mouth piece is called “suikuchi” (すいくち 吸い口).

Now, the words gankubi and suikuchi make sense as Japanese, but rao doesn’t.

Rao is actually from “Raosu” (Laos) as bamboo for Japanese pipes were often sourced from Laos.

So…

I have learned that the word kiseru itself is from the Laotian language!

We learn something new everyday!

My Brand-New Original Rakugo on YouTube!

Hi all, Eishi here!

I have just uploaded my brand new rakugo story called “The Fortune Teller” on my YouTube channel!

As you may have noticed, the video is not listed on the channel, but bear with me. I’ll tell you how to watch it soon 🙂

But first, please listen to my story.

After the lockdown, I temporarily lost ALL my performance jobs just like most of my actor/ performer/ producer friends. (No worries I’m not gonna ask for donations or something!)

Through this sudden development, I realised the importance of improving my online presence so that I could potentially perform rakugo on internet.

In order to do that, I need more followers on my YouTube and other SNS to have enough people who would watch my rakugo online.

I’m basically building an audience base or even better a fan base at the moment!!!

So…

I have decided to take this opportunity to increase my YouTube and other SNS followers.

(FYI: I need only 10 more followers on my YouTube channel to get a custom url, which is going to be “rakugonz”.)

As such, to access my video, please do the following:

  1. Follow my YouTube channel (Also, Twitter, Facebook, and/ or Instagram if you wanna show me extra love; you can subscribe to this blog, too!) If you already do, go to 2.
  2. Please comment on one of the videos on my channel (I learned that more comments mean increased discoverability online… of course, you can “like” as well!!!).
  3. DM me using one of my SNS, then I will send you the link to the video.

Sorry about this complicated process, but I only want to share this video with people who don’t mind doing this for me 🙂 The story is still in an early stage of development and quite rough, so I thought I wanted my “genuine supporters” (not internet trolls) to get involved in improving the story!!!

Please comment and give me feedback about “The Fortune Teller” so I can improve the story!!!

This is just the beginning of the future of rakugo!!! Thank you very much for your continued support in this journey!!!

Pinky Promise- Japanese Style!

Hi all, Eishi here! Hope you are doing well 🙂

As you might’ve noticed, my blog is very random.

It is a pure reflection of who I am as a scatterbrained Japanese comedian.

Yes, everything here is written from the perspective of an English Rakugo performer, but the topics may vary from rakugo and Japanese language/ culture to wellness, positive psychology, and philosophy.

Today’s post is about pinky promise/ swear.

The other day my son asked me to pinky-promise to take him to a certain fast food restaurant once this chaos is over.

Pinky promise is cute, but do you know how it is done in Japan?

The action of a pinky promise is the same (as in the photo above), but we say the following phrase as well.

ゆびきりげんまん、うそついたらはりせんぼんのます。ゆびきった!

指切りげんまん嘘ついたら針千本飲ます。指切った!

This roughly translates as…

Pinky promise, if you tell a lie, I will cut your finger, hit you with the fist 10,000 times, and make you swallow 1,000 needles…

Kids often don’t know the whole meaning of this phrase, but this is what it actual means…

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you are pinky-promising with a Japanese kid, think twice.

Deliver what you promise, or else…

Another Poem of Hope

Good morning, everybody! Hope you are having a fantastic day regardless of the temporary challenge we are facing TOGETHER right now!

My friend just forwarded me the following poem written by a priest in Ireland.

I found it beautiful and uplifting, so I wanted to share it with you.

Let’s not forget to sing the song of life!

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing

Brother Richard

Introducing CliniClowns Japan!

Hi all, Eishi here! Hope you are doing well, wherever you are on this beautiful planet!

I will be updating this blog regularly from now on as I have a lot of time in my hands at the moment 🙂

Today I’d like to share about CliniClowns Japan.

They are a group of clowns who visit sick children and sometimes adults, often with terminal illnesses, to bring humour and smile to the otherwise stifling environments they are in.

If you have watched the movie “Patch Adams”, you know what they do (though the real Patch is actually a doctor as well).

They are also called “caring clowns”, “clown doctors”, etc. depending on which part of the world you are from.

As some of you may know, I was initially trained as a clown myself. My initial goal was to become a clown doctor.

However, caring clowning was not yet recognised in 2003 when I completed my training in Japan. Then, I moved to New Zealand, and this dream was completely forgotten. (But I have realised that whatever I do I am a clown anyway- once a clown, always a clown 🙂 )

I recently learned that my closest friend from the clowning school became a clown doctor. He’s been traveling all over the world with a simple aim of cheering people up. Truly a beautiful human being.

Anyway, he is a part of “CliniClown Japan”, and they have just started a YouTube channel. Please follow them to increase their visibility! It is the people like them who need to be recognised in this world in the process of healing!

This Poetry Summarises it All

Hi all, Eishi here! Hope you are doing well!

This is the first post since the “lockdown” started here in New Zealand.

Reading back to the entry below, it is amazing how much has changed in such a short time!

Earlier this month, my master and I had our first “Oyako-kai” (Master-Disciple Recital) here in Auckland. Through this performance, my master indirectly expressed his permission for me to be his disciple, not just a student.

Due to its success, some REALLY exciting opportunities were offered to me…

In short, I was on top of the world!

Then, the virus…

Pretty much all of my performer, actor, producer friends lost their jobs overnight… including myself. Wow!

Being the person I am, my first reaction to this situation was… curiosity and hope.

Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely saddened by the sufferings that people in some parts of the world are going through.

As the husband of a medical worker, I myself have a high chance of getting the virus, too.

Yet, I cannot help but feel hope for a better world.

I can already see humanity getting united.

There is this sense of unity among humans for the first time in a very long time.

We are in this together!

This is THE opportunity for us humans to reexamine what really matters to us.

This is the time to dream of a world that is not greed driven.

The reduced carbon emission, due to travel restrictions, may mean that we could heal this planet at least a little bit.

This is the time for a paradigm shift!

I believe that humans are temporarily in cocoons to get ready to fly farther as beautiful butterflies when we are through this!

You might have read this poem before, but it really summarises what I cannot describe with my limited vocabulary:

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”   

Kitty O’Meara