[The recording of this story is at the bottom of this post.]
Jugemu (寿限無) probably is one of the best-known rakugo stories in Japan along with Time Noodles (時そば) and Scary Manju (まんじゅうこわい).
It is also one of my favourite stories to perform for people who are new to rakugo.
This tale is about this Japanese boy who had an unnecessarily long name, which would cause all sorts of problems. I am very glad that my name is NOT…
Suigyoumatsu unraimatsu furaimatsu
Kuneru tokoroni sumutokoro
Paipo paipo paipono shuringan
Shuringan no gurindai
Gurindai no ponpokopi no ponpokona no
Chokyumei no chosuke
(*There are some different variations.)
The exact origin of this story is unclear as its basic structure appears in many books and folktales.
The prototype of this story is found in Shasekishu (沙石集) or “Sand and Pebbles”, which was a collection of Buddhist parables compiled by a monk called Muju (無住) in 1283.
It was widespread, and the same concept can be found in Kyogen and a traditional lullaby from Shinano Azumigouri Yamato Village (信濃安曇郡倭村).
One of the scary variations I have heard of before is that Jugemu drowns because his name was a bit too long…
Just like the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales, some stories became un-PC, so they have been rewritten over time as rakugo is not only a traditional art but a popular art at the same time.
3 thoughts on “Eishi’s Rakugo Commentary No.2 [Jugemu 寿限無]”
Grimm’s fairy tales became sanitized because the West can’t handle the reality of life and death. Cutting that out was a big disservice to the psyche that needed those stories’s reality to cope with reality. Now we know why so many people, especially Americans, deny reality! I imagine Rakugo under US occupation over the years forced it to sanitize. Japan was much more open about natural sexual matters too until westerners showed up with their prude god & hatred of nature & the feminine. Glad we can laugh at it all now to cope! Hahahahahaha. Pray I survive the election today.
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Death has surely been pushed to the corner in the West and also in the modernised Japan. As a child, I was not allowed to attend funerals because death was for… adults. The Māori funeral (tangihanga) is just so beautiful. The entire family including their extended families gather together for about 3 days and spend time with and talk to the dead. Some thank the deceased, and others beg for forgiveness and make everything right before his/her departure. I have attended one once, and I was so moved how meaningful it was. Lots of tears, laughter, music, and haka. Reality is like that, isn’t it. We can’t sanitise the reality as you say. That’s right. Japanese sexuality had been very open before we started “modernisation” and adapted the Western culture. Unisex bath, same sex relationships, bisexuality… they were not considered “sins” per se. Interesting discussion as usual. You gave me this message on the election day, but it seems to be still going on…
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