I’m putting my life into Rakugo! …Kanehara-tei Anju, a model in Okinawa, “promoted to Nitsume with her “glossy and cute” storytelling style”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

I’m putting my life into Rakugo! …Kanehara-tei Anju, a model in Okinawa, “promoted to Nitsume with her “glossy and cute” storytelling style”.

Kanehara-tei Anju is the first female rakugo performer from Okinawa, having made the transition from TV personality to rakugo performer! She finally made her CD debut and even starred in a movie!

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Anju’s young fans are increasing. His first solo performance in March, immediately after his promotion to the second rank, was so packed, even though it was a weekday, that there was standing room only.

My entrance into the world of rakugo was really by accident,” he said. I came to Tokyo from Okinawa in 2004 and went to listen to rakugo at the recommendation of my teacher, who recommended it to me as a way to study theater. That was the solo performance of the master (Kingen Tei Yonosuke, 65). He was dressed in a kimono, with no props, no lights, no makeup, and no flashy effects, but the scenes of the story came to life in my mind. I was struck by the deep appeal of rakugo.

Kanehara-tei Anju is the first ever female rakugo performer from Okinawa Prefecture.

The rakugo story she encountered was “Miyatogawa. It is a story like a movie that develops from a love story to a tragic scene.

It is said that there are currently about 1,000 rakugo storytellers, the largest number since the Edo period (1603-1867). The number of female rakugo performers has also been increasing, and there are now a total of about 55 active in both the East and West.

After graduating from high school, Anju worked as a TV personality in her hometown of Okinawa, appearing in commercials, modeling, TV dramas, on stage, and on the radio, but moved to Tokyo to broaden her activities. After a month of serious consideration, she asked Yonosuke to become her apprentice.

He decided to join the company after being told by his master, “If you put your life on the line, I will take care of you. After five years and three months of rigorous training, he was promoted to the position of nitsume (second highest rank) in February of this year.

There were times, of course, when I wanted to run away,” he told …… (laugh). But I was getting more and more fond of rakugo. Now, I no longer work in the front of the house, but I still do study sessions (to get my stories down), distribute videos, and appear at rakugo performances at various venues, and I practice in between, so I don’t have any more time off. I have also been making more radio appearances.

Anju gave us this interview before a rakugo performance in Tokyo. She looks gallant in a kimono at the koza, but she also looks good in a printed one-piece dress.

She is a professional in the nitsume (second highest division) role. The world of the nizume is completely different from that of the maeza.

Since becoming a nitsume, I feel a different sense of responsibility in the koza, or the atmosphere of the audience,” she said. They used to look at me like, ‘Well, you’re just a maeza anyway,’ but now they look at me like, ‘Let’s see how you do.

Some fans are as enthusiastic as underground idols.

Many rakugo stories were originally created mainly for men. That is why it was considered difficult for women to perform.

However, there was a comment that it was refreshing to hear a female voice for Okiku in “Okiku no sara” (a comic story based on the ghost story of Bancho Sarayashiki), and I also received compliments on the voices of the children and young master.

In fact, at Anju’s solo performance in Asakusa, there was already an army of fans, just like underground idols.

In fact, Anju is also active outside of rakugo, releasing a mini-album “Shinagawa Shinju” in May.

It contains four songs. All of them are “rakugo songs” based on rakugo themes. The title track is a collaboration with voice actor Kappei Yamaguchi, who I was a big fan of.

The album was originally intended to be produced by his teacher, Kanehara-tei Yonosuke, more than 30 years ago. Says Anju.

There are duets with the master’s voice from over 30 years ago that were recorded at the time.”

In addition, a movie starring her, “Ninja Beast Taisenki: Jaron vs. Goura” (directed by Shinpei Hayashiya), will be released in the summer.

I play two roles, playing twins who are descendants of ninja.

Of course, his goal is to become a “shinuchi,” but that is not his only goal. But that is not his only goal.

I want to be able to say that my favorite rakugo storyteller is Anju. I’m not there yet, but I will devote myself to it.

Kyouju smiled as he said these words in his high-pitched, “glossy, cute” voice (……), and went to prepare for his performance.

On the day of the event, he was performing rakugo with Yonosuke and others at a live house in Ota Ward. The event was filled with the enthusiasm of the fans.
Kanehara-tei Anju, rakugo storyteller: “I’m devoting my life to rakugo!
Kanehara-tei Anju, rakugo storyteller, “I’m putting my life into rakugo!

From the July 28, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • Interview and text Katsumi Koizumi PHOTO Yuri Adachi

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