Funding Approved!!! Online Rakugo Project IS Happening!!!

Hi all, Eishi here! How is everything going?

I am writing this to let you know that my funding application for “Online Rakugo Project” has been approved last Friday!!!

You can find out more about this project by watching the YouTube video below, but I am very much excited!!! 😃

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for following my YouTube channel!!!

I now have 135 followers and a custom url which makes it easier for you to access my channel.

Yes, you guessed it right!

My new url is https://www.youtube.com/rakugonz 😀

Thank you always for your warm support!!! There is literally no rakugo whatsoever without the audience.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Rotten Limbs and The Japanese Art of Tenacious Wish-Making

Hi all, Eishi here! How’s your week going so far?

The one-eyed ornament on my rakugo cushion above is called a daruma.

The word “daruma” is from a Sanskrit word dharma, which means the “cosmic law and order” as revealed by the Buddha.

It’s said that this Japanese lucky charm was inspired by the famous Shaolin monk, Bodhidharma, who is often regarded as the founder of Chan Buddhism in China.

“Chan”, by the way, is “Zen” in Japanese.

I don’t know if it’s true, but a legend goes that Bodhidharma pursued zen until his limbs rotted- this is why daruma ornaments don’t have their limbs.

Daruma is often seen as an incarnation of tenacity, and it is associated with a Japanese saying “Nanakorobi Yaoki” (七転び八起き ななころびやおき ), which means “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Because of this origin, it is often used to make a wish in Japan.

“Making a wish” might sound a bit light, so it is more like setting a goal that you really want to accomplish and ask something beyond our understanding for a guidance.

Here are the steps we normally follow:

Step 1: Enter daruma’s LEFT eye as you make a wish.

Step 2: Work hard and achieve the goal.

Step 3: Enter daruma’s RIGHT eye.

Step 4: Return daruma to a temple/ shrine to be consecrated and burned.

* It is recommended to be returned at the end of the year whether you have accomplished your goal or not.

So… I brought my daruma to New Zealand about a decade ago.

My goal was quite vague, but it was to stand at the starting line as a performer.

Though I have performed on many, many stages, I didn’t feel like I was quite there yet (Japanese stoicism speaking).

But when the lockdown started, I suddenly felt like I was finally ready to start the race.

I think I am ready.

So I finally filled my drauma’s right eye.

I am just about to begin the new chapter of my life as a performer!

I will take my daruma home when I can finally visit Japan after all this is over 🙂

Portuguese Words That Became Japanese- There Are More Than You Think!

Some time ago, I was listening to a rakugo story called “Gamano Abura” (蝦蟇の油 がまのあぶら) and came across a word that I did not understand.

The word was “manteika” (マンテイカ).

It made no sense whatsoever to me.

I looked up the word in my beloved rakugo dictionary (yes, there is such a thing!) and finally found out the meaning!

Of course, I didn’t understand it because it was a Portuguese word that meant “butter” (manteiga).

But in Japan, manteika meant fat from inoshishi (猪 いのしし; Japanese wild boars) or pigs, and it was used as an ointment for medical purposes.

You may not be aware of how crucial Portugal was to Japan as these two countries are literally located on the opposite sides of the word- the west end of Europe and Far East.

In 1543, the Portuguese arrived in Japan and became the first westerners to land on the country of the rising sun (some theory says it was actually 1541). They even introduced us to… guns.

Soon after in 1549, the Spanish missionaries followed and brought Christianity to Japan. Therefore, Portugal and Spain became our first portals to the western world. As Portugal was under the Spanish rule between 1581 and 1640, they were sort of under the same umbrella back then.

Naturally, the Japanese language was influenced by Portuguese/ Spanish from very early on.

“Tempura” was originally a Portuguese word as well. It was from “tempero”. The Portuguese introduced the deep frying technique to Japan, so tempura was originally NOT a Japanese dish.

Here are other Portuguese words that have become Japanese, which we still use today:

Buranko (ブランコ; from balanço) = swing

Furasuko (フラスコ; from frasco) = flask (for experiment)

Jouro (じょうろ; from jarro) = watering can

Kappa (かっぱ; from capa) = rain jacket

Karuta (カルタ; from carta) = a kind of Japanese card game

Japanese women playing karuta (circa 1900)

Konpeitou (こんぺいとう 金平糖; from confeito) = Japanese sweets as in the photo below

Konpeitou (こんぺいとう 金平糖)

Koppu (コップ; from copo) = cup

Miira (ミイラ; from mirra) = mummy (as in an Egyptian mummy, not a British mummy 😉 )

Shabon (シャボン; from sabão) = bubbles from soap

REFERENCE

日本語になったポルトガル語

日本とポルトガルの関係

PHOTO CREDIT

Midori / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

[Eishi’s Japanese Trivia 2] Chinese Word Used in Edo?

Hi all, Eishi here! Hope everything is well with you all, my beloved readers!

I’ve been busy preparing for the online rakugo workshop over the last few days, but I’m finally back to blogging 🙂

In another article, I talked about the influence of a completely unexpected language on Japanese.

Here is even more fascinating trivia (at least to me) about an expression used to describe a certain social class during the Edo period (1603- 1868).

I am aware that many of my readers are Japanologists, who often know about Japanese language, culture, and history more than I do, but do you know which social class during the Edo period was called “nihonzashi” (二本差し にほんざし)?

This literally means “two swords”, so yes it’s pretty easy, it was the samurai class.

But how about “ryanko” (りゃんこ)?

Which social class did this expression mean?

Here is a hint for you.

”Ryan” (りゃん) is the Japanese transliteration of a Chinese word “liǎng” (両).

“Ko” is “個” in kanji character.

So… “Ryanko” (両個 りゃんこ) as a whole means “two pieces”…

Yep, you got it right.

This also means the samurai warriors!

It was often used by everyday people to describe samurai warriors in a slightly derogatory way, and it often appears in rakugo.

So far, I’ve talked about the influence of Lao and Chinese on the Japanese language, but I will talk about the Portuguese influence on my native language!

See you next time! Stay well and positive 🙂

Murder, Cursed Sword, and Rakugo

Hi all, Eishi here! How are you all doing?

Last night, I listened to a rakugo story called “Daimaruya Soudou” (大丸屋騒動 だいまるやそうどう) based on a real murder case that took place in 1773.

It is unusual for a murder to become the theme of a rakugo story, so I was quite fascinated by this tragedy.

I will not write about the details of this case, but if you are interested and understand Japanese, you can find more information here.

Though it is not clear what kind of sword was actually used as the murder weapon, in the rakugo version, it says that a sword called Muramasa was used.

If you ask any Japanese person what the most famous sword would be, they are likely to answer either Masamune or Muramasa.

You see a lot of references to these two swords in Japanese literature, movies, and even manga/ anime.

Masamune is often described as a sword that protects while Muramasa is a sword that harms and kills.

Muramasa to most Japanese people is a “cursed sword”.

Muramasa got a bad reputation as Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543- 1616), the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, was said to have lost his grandfather and eldest son by this sword.

Photo Credit: Ihimutefu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18271854

Eishi’s Rakugo Rebel Studio is Now Open!

Hi all, Eishi here! How’s your day going?

Make sure to do at least one thing that excites you today!

As some of you may know, I was just about to partner up with the Asia New Zealand Foundation and start visiting Auckland high schools to deliver rakugo workshops before “Rona” hit New Zealand.

Just as many of my friends in the performing arts industry, I lost literally ALL the opportunities due to the situation the world is facing right now.

Including this partnership.

So I thought.

But, I was completely wrong!!!

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from them, asking me if I would be interested in delivering online workshops for housebound high school students!!!

Of course, I said yes!!!

Thank you so much, Asian New Zealand Foundation!!! You are AMAZING!!!

Here’s the proof 🙂

But there was an issue, though. I didn’t have a filming space…

I would’ve gone to a studio or a creative space somewhere to film learning resources, but I don’t have that luxury at the moment. I don’t have much privacy, either, as my kids are roaming all over the place… literally.

So I decided to make a part of the master bedroom into my semi-permanent recording space and named it the “Rakugo Rebel Studio”!!!

To block noises from the little cacophony artists, the “studio” will be barricaded with bed mattresses and futon as sound barriers during recordings.

We have decided to keep it until the new world begins i.e. Rona leaves us alone (my apology if your name happen to be Rona).

I will use this space to film the learning resources and possibly do live streaming sessions. Maybe I will film some YouTube videos, too!

Let’s keep on doing what we can for a better world!!!