Konnyaku Debate and Frozen Shoulder

Konnyaku (蒟蒻, こんにゃく) is one of the ingredients for Japanese cooking. It’s made from “Konnyaku Potato” or konjac roots in English.

It’s quite chewy like really firm jelly and almost always used for savoury cooking, but it could also be used for fruit-flavoured confectionery like “konnyaku jelly”.

A few months ago, I started learning a rakugo story called “Konnyaku Debate”.

In this story, the owner of a konnyaku store, Rokubei, pretends to be a zen master to beat a travelling monk in a “zen debate”.

In the olden days in Japan, the travelling zen monks challenged the head priests of temples in zen debates, and if the head priests lost, they were kicked out of the temples- it was like a serious quiz battle.

So, how would a konnyaku maker try to win a debate?

By pretending that he could not hear nor speak.

Therefore, the debate was conducted in gestures instead…

I’ll save the punchline, but you know who the winner of the debate was.

As you can see, this story involves a lot of physical movements unlike most other stories in rakugo, sometimes forming a large circle with arms over the head.

Life is ironic.

When I just started learning this kind of unusual story, I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder…

It is literally impossible to do some of the movements at the moment, thanks to my unmovable (and painful) left shoulder!

Unfortunately, all of the painkillers I have tried have side-effects on me like knocking me out at noon for a nap and can’t stay awake past 9:00 PM.

So I couldn’t use any strong painkillers, which prevented me from writing this blog for a while.

Fortunately, my shoulder seems to be coping well today, so I thought of saying hi to you all.

If you can, don’t get old.

Photo Credit


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