笑福亭里光師匠のこと

落語家の笑福亭里光師匠は中学時代の同級生です。同じクラスのときはけっこう仲良くしていて、同じ部活に入って、同じ日にその部活を一緒に辞めに行った間柄でした。中学時代から落語をやるのが趣味で、学校のイベントなどで高座を設けてもらって一席やったりすることがあって、それがただの趣味の域を超えてけっこう上手かったんですね。

高校以後は別々の進路に進んで、それ以来ほとんど会うこともなかったわけですが、2012年のある日、旅行先のホテルのTVでなんとなく「笑点」を見ていると、たまたま真打披露口上をやってたんです。そのときふと彼のことを思い出し、

(――そういえば落語が趣味やったあいつ、今頃どうしてんのかな。まだ落語続けてんのかな…。ひょっとしたらある日突然こういう場にひょこっと出てきたりして)

とか考えていると、なんと

その日の披露口上の席に彼が出てきたんです!

腰抜かしました。

そのあとネットでいろいろ調べてみたところ、1998年に笑福亭鶴光一門に入門。上方落語ではあるものの、おもに東京を基点に活動する噺家さんで、2002年7月に二ツ目に昇進、そして2012年5月に真打に昇進とのこと。中学時代からあだ名は「師匠」といわれてましたが、真打に上がることで名実ともに「師匠」になったわけです。

ツイッターのアカウントを持っていたようなのでダイレクトメッセージを送ってみたところ、向こうも私のことを覚えていてくれたみたいで、すぐ返信をくれ、それから再び交流がはじまりました。しばらくして、一緒に飲みにいくことになり、25年以上ぶりに会った彼は、中学時代とほとんど変わってなかったです。

それ以来、里光師匠の落語会があるとちょくちょく顔を出したり、二人で飲みに行ったりするようになりました。落語のことはあんまりよくわからないので彼の技倆がどんなものか評価のしようがないのですが、まあそんなことを気にせず近況報告しあえる関係というのがいいもんです。実は昨日の晩も一緒に飲みに行ってました。ちょっと飲みすぎて二日酔いきついですが…。

「同窓会に出ると、周りの同期が一流企業や保険会社で年収1000万やら1500万もらう中で、生活していくのがやっとの自分が情けなくなる」とこぼしていた里光師匠でしたが、自分の好きなことで、自分の力で一本立ちすることのほうがよっぽど素晴らしいと思います。売れれば「有名人」ですしね。有名人と友達になっておけば、それをきっかけにセレブの世界をのぞけたり、いろんな人とつながれたり、もしかしたら人生が変わるようなことがあるかもしれないので、こういうつながりはぜひ大事にしておきたいと思っています。

Shofukutei Riko

Shofukutei Riko (笑福亭里光) is a professional rakugo artist who speaks Kansai-dialect rakugo stories. Rakugo is, as written in Wikipedia, a form of Japanese verbal entertainment where the lone storyteller sits on stage and depicts a long and complicated comical (or sometimes sentimental) story using only a paper fan and a small cloth as props.

He was one of my classmates when we were junior high school students. Besides, he was one of my best friends. In junior high I talked him a lot, played with him a lot, belonged the same club as he did, and resigned from the club together with him on the same day. He sometimes played rakugo on stage in school events. His performance was rising above the level of amateur, so he was called shisho, a title which is used to a professional rakugo storytellers.

After we graduated from junior high, we went to different high school. We didn’t see each other for ages.

One day in 2012 I was staying in a hotel room watching an entertainment program on TV, where several rakugo artists who had just promoted to the shin’uchi rank were on stage and they were giving speeches in turn to show their thankful feelings for the promotion. The program reminded me of the wanted-to-be-a-rakugo-storyteller classmate. I wondered if he still kept up his hobby. Watching TV, I thought he might appear on such an entertainment program someday. To my surprise, he really did it in the very program that day.

According to the information online, after graduating from university he became one of the disciples of Shofukutei Tsuruko (笑福亭鶴光), one of well-known rakugo artists, to start his rakugo career in 1998. He promoted to the futatsume rank in July 2002 and became a shin’uchi in May 2012.

I tried to contact to him. Since he had a Twitter account, I sent a direct message to him. He replied to me soon. We talked a bit on Twitter for a while. Several months later we met face-to-face for the first time in more than 25 years. He had not changed at all since we saw in the junior high.

Now I sometimes go to his stage to listen to his story, and see him offstage. Last night I saw him in Shinjuku and went for a drink with him at an izakaya in the westgate area of Shinjuku. He was fine. We talked a lot. I drank too much and I have hangover this morning, though.

I think that being friends with public figures might help me have a chance to see the celebrity world, and maybe it would even change my life.

近江友里恵さんのこと

NHKのアナウンサーの近江友里恵さんのファンです。といっても今年のお正月に実家に帰省していたときにたまたま「ブラタモリ」をTVで見て初めて知ったんですが。「ブラタモリ」自体、桑子真帆アナウンサーがアシスタントをしていた時代に一度見たきりで、それまでほとんど見たことなかったのですが、このときは、昼に「伊勢」「横浜」の回の再放送をやっていて、さらに夜には「鶴瓶の家族に乾杯」とのコラボレーションスペシャルで成田山に行っていた回の放送があって、そこに出ていたアシスタントの近江アナウンサーがなんかいい味を出していて、注目するようになりました。

グーグル先生やウィキペディアによると、近江友里恵さんは2012年にNHKに入局して、朝のニュース番組「おはよう日本」の「まちかど情報室」のコーナーなどに出ているアナウンサーとのこと。私は、朝は十数年来、テレビ東京の「モーニングサテライト」を見ていたので、「まちかど情報室」はたまにしか見ることがなかったのですが、そこで衣装をうしろ前に着て出演する(※)というちょっとドジっ娘ぶりも披露してしまうキャラのようです。「ブラタモリ」でも、ときどき温度計を読み間違えたり、ハブ取り棒でつかまえたハブを入れた箱を素手で閉めようとしてしまうというポンコツっぷりを見せてくれる天然キャラとして人気を博している模様。「私、優柔不断なんで、すぐ迷っちゃう」と公言し、「優柔不断が治りますように」と成田山にお祈りするゆとりキャラで、なんか「守ってあげたい」感を強く感じさせるオーラがただよっているように感じたわけです。なんか、職場の後輩とかにいたらいろいろ教えてあげたくなるような。キラキラしたいわゆる“女子アナ”らしからぬ、おっとりとした雰囲気で、着ているものもけっして派手ではなく流行を追い過ぎず、むしろ中学生のようなちょっとあか抜けない感じさえして、それでいて育ちのよさを感じさせる、すれていないしゃべり方。ひとことでいうと“可愛すぎる”ということでしょうか。

スポーツはあまり得意ではなく、動物もどちらかというと苦手で、けっしてアドリブをきかせて要領よく立ちまわるタイプではないものの、地頭はよく真面目に、堅実に何ごともきっちり取り組む感じ。それでいてちょっと天然というキャラは、なんだか私自身をみているようで、それで親近感をおぼえたのかもしれません。

近江さんはその後、4月からは隔週で「おはよう日本」のキャスターを担当することになり、朝5時から出るようになったので、近江さんの出る週は朝5時起きで「おはよう日本」を見て(出ない週はこれまでどおり「モーサテ」を見てますが)、土曜の夜7時半からは「ブラタモリ」を見るという生活になったんですが、このたびNHK文化センターの企画で、9月30日に名古屋で近江さんのトークライブがあるということを聞きおよび、さっそく申し込んで名古屋まで聴きに行ってきました。

※2016年6月20日の「まちかど情報室」で、衣装の「Backリボンギンガムブラウス」をうしろ前に着て出演してしまい、視聴者から指摘を受けて、NHKの広報とニュースとアナウンス室の偉い人たちが会議の結果、「本人が間違って着てしまいました。これからは正しい方向に着るようにします」という公式文書を出すにいたった事件。

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Yurie Omi

Yurie Omi

According to Wikipedia, “Yurie Omi (born July 27, 1988) is a Japanese female announcer, television reporter, television personality, and news anchor for NHK. Omi is one of the hosts of NHK morning news show NHK News Ohayō Nippon. She is also the co-host of NHK television series Bura Tamori aired from April 2016.”

I’ve been a big fan of Yurie Omi since the beginning of this year when I sat in front of the TV by chance at my parents’ house and watched her for the first time in Bura Tamori (I had rarely seen it before, though). This program is a travel show where NHK’s broadcaster strolls Japan’s particular town or area with Tamori, one of Japan’s renowned TV personalities, and a geophysicist, a local historian or a curator, to investigate the place’s topics such as terrain features, history, culture and civil engineering.

Why do I think she is so attractive? I think the reason is three-fold. Firstly, she sometimes shows goofy behavior in her TV programs, although she is actually very smart and good-looking. She wore her dress back to front in the news show. In Bura Tamori, she read the thermometer incorrectly. (She said the temperature of hot spring water was 940 degrees Celcius while it really pointed 94.0 degrees.) Such slight weaknesses mean imperfection, which is what Japanese people value in tradition. This mentality makes the Japanese regard her weaknesses as charming. Secondly, she acts or speaks less highhandedly than average so-called “joshi-ana” and TV personalities. They often show off, but she doesn’t. They often speak aggressively, but she never does it. Her attitude like this gives a favorable impression to many Japanese viewers. Thirdly, most of her personality looks so similar to mine that I find something congenial in her. I don’t think she is such a personality that is good at thinking on her feet and speaking off the cuff with a ready wit. Rather, she looks genuine, and she can only do diligently what she has to do with simple honesty. Such characteristics of her is just like mine.

For those reasons, I got fascinated by her. I watch every TV program she appears in. I get up at five in the morning on weekdays to watch NHK’s morning news show she hosts. In Saturday evening I watch Bura Tamori to see her traveling with Tamori.

In addition to watching her on TV, I had a chance to see her with the naked eye. One day I got the information that she was going to hold a lecture presentation at Nagoya on September 30 and was requesting for audience. I applied for it because it might be my once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet her up.

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The end of globalisation

When I started my career in the late 1990s, my employer encouraged us to have a global mind to cope with Japan’s recession so-called “the lost decade”. By 2000, the words “global” and “globalisation” were used as the keywords — and sometimes buzzwords — for surviving the upcoming new millennium, followed by the dot-com bubble. My coworkers and I were pressured to raise TOEIC scores, to learn SWOT analysis, MECE, and other terms of logical thinking, to abandon obsolete Japanese work style and get accustomed to global — in many cases American — way of thinking. 

In 2006, those ideas were changed. Seeing the Livedoor scandals and accompanying downfall of dot-com millionaires, Japanese people found out that the American way did not work. Instead, they began taking a second look at their own country and reviewing the good things of it. The company I worked for focused on the products for domestic customers rather than overseas ones, with “the Japan quality” as its corporate philosophy.

Starting 2010s, people’s inward-oriented views were changing into global again. Japanese enterprises were going out overseas, not only to the United States at that time but to the Third World such as India, China, Russia, Brazil and Southeast Asian and African countries. I had more and more opportunities to get involved in the services offered to such customers going to those countries in order to meet their needs and demands.

The first half of 2010s was the years of transportation. Low cost carriers helped people fly abroad at low air fares. Everywhere you can see people travelling to and from all over the world on a regular basis.

Yet you see that people’s favour of the global-oriented mind or the local-oriented one swings from side to side every five or six years. That being the case, such a globalised world will come to an end shortly. The event that happened this week in the United Kingdom showed that the most symbolically. The referendum determined the UK to leave the European Union it had joined in 1973. Other European countries like France, Italy and Spain begin the preparation of such referendum whether they should leave or remain the EU by some people tired of enormous numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and accompanying terrorist attacks occurring inside Europe. 

Likewise, in the United States, Donald Trump, saying that a wall should be built on the border to shut out Mexicans and Muslims, has the enthusiastic support by the conservative and relatively poor American population. Even Hillary Clinton, one of the rival candidates of Trump, says that she is against the US to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In Japan, some nationalistic extremists carrying patriotic flags with them are making a hate speech on the street, saying that the people from neighbouring countries should get out of Japan and go back to their own country.

I think that now is the turning point of the era and there will be no more “globalised World” from now on. People of each country will pay attention only inside their own country. A dispute or, in some cases, an armed clash may begin between some countries. Such an era will last five or six years, at least Trump or Clinton’s presidential term. What we can do right now might be to look on such the World and to have as many options as possible to be able to cope with the future fluctuation of circumstances.

Happy New Year 2014

皇国の発展と国運の隆昌、そして
国民皆が新年(2014年、平成26年)を無事に過ごせますように。

地元の西宮・広田神社での初詣。
Hirota Shrine
Hirota Shrine
今年は数え年42歳、本厄です。
Mondo-yakujin Temple
Mondo-yakujin Temple
厄除けで有名な西宮の門戸厄神というお寺で祈祷してもらいました。
男42歳といえば、健康面でも曲がり角にさしかかる年齢。
注意して今年は乗り切ります。

宿場めぐり

GWの帰省を兼ねて、木曾の宿場を回ってきました。帰省する道中、内田康夫「皇女の霊柩」を携えて、かねてから行ってみたかった中山道の馬籠宿に1泊してみました。

中央道で東京から中津川まで約4時間のドライブは、GW谷間の平日ということもあり渋滞もなく快適そのもの。中津川で高速を降り、馬籠に行く前に中津川市内の中津川宿方面に寄ってみました。主要な宿場には必ずある「本陣」(大名や位の高い人たちが泊まる場所。それに次ぐ格式の場所が「脇本陣」、庶民の泊まるのが「旅籠」ですね)の跡を探してみます。

ガイドブックは持ってきていなかったので適当に標識を見ながら市街に出ると、「中山道歴史資料館」なる施設に出くわしました。駐車場も十分ありそうですし、ここに一旦クルマを置いてあたりを散策することにしました。

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