A disciple of rakugo master “Sanyutei Enka” accuses him of “fierce verbal abuse and violence” with his own name.
In the world of rakugo, the words of a master are considered golden words for his students. But ranting and violence are not “kotoba” at all. It took me six years to realize this, and another four years to raise my voice to the outside world. It took me more than four more years to speak out. I want to say this clearly to my mentor. I beg you to excommunicate me as soon as possible.
In a hushed tone, rakugo storyteller Sanyutei Tenka (Nitsume, 40) addressed his master, Sanyutei Enka IV (63), who is also the head of the Sanyutei Enka family of storytellers under the name “Sanyutei Enka. Enka is the current head of the Sanyutei Enka name and a major rakugo storyteller who has served as a director of the Rakugo Association for 20 years.
For a master of such a big name to ask his disciples to excommunicate him is not a gentle thing to do. In the world of rakugo, an excommunication by a master to his pupil means the “death” of the rakugo performer. Even so, Tenka decided that the only way to live was to appeal to his master, Enka.
After five years of waiting, Tenka became a disciple of Enka, whom he had longed to study under.
It was in December 2009 that Tenka was initiated into Enka.
When I was a child, I used to listen to my master’s (at that time, Sanyutei Utanosuke) rakugo as a matter of course. He was from Kagoshima Prefecture and I was from the neighboring prefecture of Miyazaki, but he was very popular. Every household had a cassette tape of Utanosuke as a matter of course. I was shocked again when I was 15 years old that such an interesting person existed. He was a guest performer at a high school festival. Rather than traditional rakugo, he told a funny story, mixing in current events of the time and local stories. It was so popular that the gymnasium shook. It was amazing. I thought, “I want to do a job where I can express something like my teacher.
By the time I graduated from college, I said to myself, “I want to be a rakugo performer. I want to be an apprentice to my master. So I wrote a letter asking him to take me on as an apprentice. Then I received a phone call from my master and was told that I needed my parents’ approval, so I gave up for the time being. I then decided to work part-time to save up money and ask my master to take me on as an apprentice again. Then, when I turned 27, I finally saved up enough money, so I persuaded my parents to let me come to Tokyo and wrote a letter to them asking them to take me on as an apprentice. They called me right away and said, ‘I’ll take you as an apprentice.
He became an apprentice, which he had longed for. But the verbal abuse and violence began immediately.
Tenka moved into an office near Enka’s home, from where she commuted to Enka’s home every morning to clean and take care of him. The verbal abuse and violence began immediately.
He said, “It was one thing to be yelled at for repeated mistakes, but to be suddenly snapped at for reasons I didn’t understand, to be punched, to have my head shaved… What was even worse was that he would get angry with me and beat me up. What was more severe than that was the loud threats. The master suddenly lost his temper and said argument in a very loud voice, and my body reacted with a jerk. I thought I had a strong tolerance for being scolded, but it was no use. Even if I prepared myself, they would come at me ten or twenty times more than I expected. Even when I sincerely apologized, my master would tell me to sit on my knees or to shave my head, depending on his mood.
The old school structure of the school was based on the premise that “the disciple is to blame.
Still, at first, “I thought, ‘This is the world of the arts, so that’s how it should be. However, six months after his initiation, when he was finally allowed to attend Yose and work in the dressing room where other masters were also present, he realized for the first time that his master was “not normal.
He said, “The other masters and my seniors would even make small complaints when I made mistakes. It was totally different from our master. It was not uncommon for other masters to say to me, ‘Your place is tough. Especially, our master, after abusive words and violence, after accusing us of excommunication, would often say to us, ‘Go and shave your head, then I’ll forgive you. If you go to the dressing room with a shaved head, the other masters would naturally think that something must have happened to you. But when I did so, they would say to me, “What did you do? What did you do? The assumption is, “It’s the disciple’s fault. I realized that this was the nature of the rakugo world, and since I could not speak ill of my master, I shouted in my heart, ‘Why do I even have to be punished? I was really miserable.
This happened in January 2001. At the time, Enka’s disciples were holding a regular rakugo party at a restaurant. On that day, Enka showed up unexpectedly and was furious that one of his disciples had not put the hem of his shirt inside his pants, so he made the three disciples, including Enka, sit on the floor. A guest who was present cried out to Enka and asked him, “Master, please don’t do this,” but his anger did not abate, and he continued to expose his disciples.
He continued to expose his disciples. “I will forgive you if you apologize and shave your head.”
Tenga curled his head in disgust when he was told this. If anything went wrong, after verbal abuse and violence, he was told that he was excommunicated, and that he would be forgiven if he shaved his head, which was repeated many times.
He was beaten on a street in Ueno, and the police had to rush to the scene…
It was in July of 2005 that Tenka’s mind completely turned away from Enka.
A younger apprentice said, ‘It’s too hard for me, so I want to move to another clan,’ and I said to him, ‘Well, I want to go with you. That conversation fell on Enka’s ear. A few days later, Enka called me and said, ‘If you guys don’t apologize today, I’ll excommunicate you. After I shave your head, come to the sushi restaurant on Ueno-hirokoji.
I thought this was obviously going to be violent, so I shaved my head and took my IC recorder with me for the first time. When I arrived at the sushi restaurant, he told me to wait outside. As soon as he came out, he suddenly gave me a serious slap. The force of the slap blew me away and I hit the glass of the restaurant. It was in front of many passersby, so a passing businessman stopped Enka. Enka went home first, but later a police officer came and said, “There was a report, what happened?” What happened? We told the police, ‘It’s okay,’ and they left. That was the first time I was subjected to violence in front of the general public. Until that event, violence had been the norm, so I had no idea that it constituted a crime. But it was the first time I realized, ‘Raising your hand is a crime for the public….
This incident definitely took my mind off Enka. Until now, I had tried not to keep detailed records, no matter how much I was assaulted. I still have respect for Enka. I don’t want to remember the assault by such a master. But after this, I began to think about leaving as much evidence as possible.
From that point on, for more than four years, Tenga continued to record the verbal abuse and violence from Enka. The following is a list of the cases of Enka’s verbal abuse and violence that Tenka recorded.
March 21, 2007
On the first day of the Enka IV succession, when his disciple said, “Congratulations,” he was in a bad mood, “I don’t want to be happy! He was in a bad mood and became furious. On the first day of the show, he yelled and pointed out Tenuta’s mistakes. The next day, he suddenly announces his excommunication.
November 4, 2007
On the way from Fukuoka Station to Fukuoka Airport, the box office staff prepared a cab, and the staff and Tenka loaded their luggage first and waited for Enka at the cab stand. However, Enka acted alone and took a train to the airport. This was due to Enka’s mistake in making the arrangements, but she was furious that Tenka did not follow her. At Fukuoka Airport, he confiscates Enka’s ticket to Okinawa. He told her to come to Okinawa on her own. When Tenka agreed and said, “Please give me the ticket because I have to cancel it,” he scattered it on the floor in the lobby where many people were gathered and forced her to “Pick it up! He forced her to do so.
January 10, 2008
Enka pointed out Tenga’s mistake. She suddenly announces her excommunication. Tenga apologizes, but is forced to become a monk.
December 14, 2008.
After Enka finished her work, she instructed Tenka to bring back her own kimono. As usual, Tenka went to Enka’s house and gave the kimono to Enka’s wife. However, when Enka returns home late at night, he finds his wife’s kimono, which she had forgotten and left unattended. He was furious with Enka, saying, “It’s your fault for not telling my wife properly. He also raged at her, telling her to “stay out of my sight from now on. When he called Enka’s house on New Year’s Eve to arrange a meeting for New Year’s Day, he received an angry e-mail from Enka: “Don’t contact my wife. Don’t contact my wife. Don’t live in the same city. Move out.” He was forced to do so.
January 3, 2009.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, his wife had told him that he did not have to go to Enka’s house on New Year’s Day, so he stayed at home instead. Why aren’t you waiting for me backstage in your crested hakama? I tried to explain to him, but his anger did not subside.
Then came the fateful day, February 20, 2010.
(To be continued in the second part, “Why a disciple decided to accuse Sanyutei Enka of ‘spectacular power harassment’ under his own name.)