On September 30, rakugo storyteller Sanyutei Enraku passed away from lung cancer at the age of 74.
He was 74 years old. “From January to May of this year, I was hospitalized due to a stroke. He was hospitalized from January to May this year for a stroke, but during that time he was unable to receive treatment for his lung cancer at the same time…” (a fellow rakugo performer)
He returned to the stage on August 11, but was later hospitalized again for pneumonia.
The lung cancer had progressed, and although he began treatment, he was no longer physically strong enough to endure it. There was nothing they could do for him, and I think he was aware of that. I think he was disappointed.
His commandment name was
“Taitsu Ensho Joza.”
The two characters of “Ensei,” the great name he risked his life to protect, are engraved on his headstone. Before his death, Mr. Enraku held a Soto-shu attainment ceremony, and his commandment name is derived from his monk’s name.
In his book “Nagarete Enraku ni Nagaretsukuka or Ensei” (Take Shobo), published in 1919, Enraku expressed his desire to assume the name Ensei.
At that stage, there were direct disciples of Ennen VI in the Enraku Ichimonkai V and the Rakugo Association. The Ichimonkai agreed that Enraku would succeed to the name, but I had to properly address the direct disciples of the Rakugo Association, Sanyutei Enjo and Sanyutei Enso. However, even Enraku, who has always used his “diplomacy” as a weapon, was reluctant to do so.
A source involved in the entertainment business said, “But the situation has changed.
However, the situation has changed. Mr. Enjo left in November last year, and Mr. Enmado left in September this year. But now, Mr. Enraku has also left …….
One entertainment critic wrote in an obituary in the Daily Sports newspaper, “The rakugo world has lost the best qualified person to assume the name of the seventh generation of the great namesake, Sanyutei Enjo. For the time being, Enno’s position will remain vacant. I thought he was right when he wrote that Enraku’s death was a “theatrical loss. Ensei’s famous name will be lost again.
The box-office insider mentioned above said, “I think he was right. Another person involved in the show business also had the following view.
At the same time, I thought about the possibility that the name Enraku had stuck to so long would be taken over by a person qualified by the Rakugo Association to assume the name (Enno’s granddisciple; Enraku is also a granddisciple). At the same time, he also thought that the fact that Enraku had insisted on the name so much made it difficult for those qualified to assume it (Enno’s grandchildren and Enraku’s grandchildren) to speak up. Mr. Enraku wanted to prevent the name “Ensei” from leaving the Enraku clan at all costs.
I believe that “Ensei” will become a family name outside the Enraku clan because of Mr. Enraku’s willingness to do so during his lifetime and the fact that he included it in his precept name.”
It is said that Enraku received secret orders from his master, Enraku V, regarding the name Ensei. A veteran entertainment journalist revealed, “Enraku’s siblings, San-yu and Yuri, are the only ones who have been able to perform in the show.
I heard that Enraku’s brother Sanyutei Horaku was going to assume the name Ensei, and he wanted me to support him. In 2011, Houraku and Enjo had an event called the ‘Ensei Contest,’ which created a lot of buzz, but the fact that he assumed the name without everyone’s blessing seemed to dampen Houraku’s ambition after that.”
Instead, it was Enraku who remained enthusiastic. A veteran entertainment journalist continues.
A veteran entertainment journalist continues, “Mr. Enraku often used the term ‘Chikuchaku’ (literally, ‘a legitimate son and a legitimate daughter’). In other words, he said that the first disciple, or the chief disciple, has the right to assume the name of Enraku VI. In other words, Enraku V, who was the first disciple of Ensei VI, was supposed to succeed to the name “Ensei. The logic goes that, as Enraku V’s disciple, he also had the right to assume the name of his successor.
However, the world of rakugo has changed so much that it is no longer the time for the most talented disciple to succeed to the name. To begin with, Enraku V’s first disciple was Houraku. Well, between the two of them. “Enno is the sixth Enraku!” I think they had an agreement to do so.
The Rakugo Association of Japan is currently holding a show to unveil its newest rakugo performer at a rakugo theater in Tokyo, and the great name of Nyufune-tei Ogibashi X has been restored. The successor was neither the first nor the direct disciple of the previous Ogenbashi, but a disciple of the sixth disciple. In other words, he was a grandson. It is fair to say that the time has come for anyone to succeed to the name if there is a consensus within the family.
It has been about 44 years since the rakugo association split in June 1978, when the Ensei clan withdrew from the association. While the people involved who knew the story at the time have passed away, the great namesake Ensei, who was torn apart again by the Enraku V family and the Rakugo Association, is wandering around like a ghost. With the passing of Enraku, the vacancy of Ensei will continue for some time to come – and the name of Ensei will remain vacant. Gassho.
Interview and text by： Watabe Wataru
After working as a desk clerk in the culture department of an evening newspaper, an editorial staff member at a publishing company, and a copywriter, Watabe became a freelance entertainment writer. He covers all aspects of the entertainment industry, including movies, theater, acting, and music. He also writes undercover as a ghostwriter for talent books.