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Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review No.

64 5
4 15 - 5 5 1 (Shwa 5 nen, 15th April 1st May 1930)
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Mansai to Saizo ......Tamura Nishio .. (gojichi)
Mansai and Saizo ...... Tamura Nishio . (51)

Tamura Nishio (1879-1958) was a playwright, novelist and critic. Born in the
Nihonbashi District of Tky he attended what is now Chuo University.

Japanese transcription is followed by the English translation


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Sawamura Sjr VII as Saiz Kamesuke


Matsumoto Kshir VII as Manzai Tsuruday

The Comedy Duo Manzai and Saiz.....................Tamura Nishio .


(51)
Noriaibune Eh Manzai no Hanashi (The story of a Boat with Seven Merry Gods)
In May at the Kabukiza Theatre Noriaibune Eh Manzai (A Boat with Seven Merry
Gods) is being produced. The cast is Matsumoto Kshir VII as Manzai and
Sawamura Sjr VII as Saiz. It is modelled on the customary story in which a
carpenter, a sweet white sake salesman, a man about town, a geisha, and a
boatman all appear. It is staged as a Spring spectacle for the theatres seasonal
calendar programme during the period of fine weather of the early Summer of the
rainy season of the fourth lunar month. Otherwise, it is said, it will be a little bit sultry
for the audience but if it happens to feel like comfortable Spring weather they will be
less distracted. The stage setting is that of an artificial Sumida River on which the
Spring mist is lingering. On reflection its immediately obvious that it is a glorious New
Year.

Nakamura Kotar III as the baby sitter Ume

The other stage props indicate that the location is Mukjima near the Mimeguri
Shrine from where the whole city can be seen, there is dancing and the ferry landing
is in the area of the Takeya bamboo dealers. During the Meiji Era and before the
Earthquake Disaster of 1923 the area in question, around the neighbourhood of the
Imadobashi Bridge, was very bleak. Lots of garbage had built up and the riverside
where the boat landing was overflowed with manure. Nearer the shore there was a
lot of mud with a lot of frothy bubbling going on and it was a really filthy place.
However it was regarded it was really dirty. The play Noriabune was written around
about Temp 14 (1843). Around the following year Shibai-machi (Drama Town)* at
Saruwaka-ch closed and though it had a certain refined elegance this was probably,
we might assume, to try to regulate its use.
* Saruwaka-machi: the location of the Edosanza, Edos three licensed theatres: the
Nakamuraza, the Moritaza and the Ichimuraza
So people love to enjoy and celebrate Spring. I believe the assumption that if
there was a neighbourhood dance at the location of the Takeya bamboo dealers it
was, if anything, flourishing.
This was of course because the evidence shows that there werent any fundamental
obstacles to the survival of the dance in the Takeya bamboo dealers neighbourhood.
In the collection of pictures of famous places in Edo there is evidence of this though

on investigation into (cultural) geography it appears that there was a prohibition


regarding these dances.
There was a musical piece which was performed at the Edo Eras Ichimuraza
Theatres New Year performance run called Kashiragaki Ise Monogatari (aka
Noriabune Eh Manzai) which was a type of Jruri narrative performed by Mojitay*
and Tomimoto Buzenday** accompanied by the Nagauta (literally long song)
chorus which along with the Takemoto recitation completed the entire chorus in
attendance. The first part of this was Kioi Uta Soga no Hanadashi (The Soga
Brothers Festival Song and Magnificent Carnival Float) with which both of the Soga
Festivals Kabuki dances were performed. Later on Noriaibune Eh Manzai became
independent of this. The author was Sakurada Jisuke III, and the hard working
composer of the musical composition was Kishizawa Shikisa VI. In the satirical
Hashidate (Raising the Uprights)*** there is a laborious scene involving Tay san
(aka Manzai). In this version of Hashidate there is a key passage of music about the
white snows of Mt. Fuji. Other people speculated that it wasnt very complex.
* Narrative singer Tokiwazu Mojitay
** Narrative singer Tomimoto Buzenday
*** Possibly Kotobuki Hashiradate Manzai (celebratory dance performed by the
travelling comedy duo Manzai and Saiz, who would originally would go from door to
door during the New Year, performing celebratory songs and dances which has its
origins in the ceremonies that used to be performed before building a house)
In this Saiz also wore a Hikigoshi* . The Hashidate dance when done at its best
verges on difficult. If pushed to making a comment Id say that for both the roles of
Manzai and Saiz the actors status is close to that of zagashira troupe leader. The
style of Saizs performance is difficult. In the second scene of Hashidate he is the
accomplice. He is decidedly indecisive. The suitability of the Hikigoshi was somewhat
inappropriate. I am aware of the breadth of the late Ichikawa Danshir IIs
performance in the role of Saiz and it was considered fairly enjoyable.
* Four intertwined wide cloth bands which secure the waistband and are tied off in
the front and back
I recall that then, in the age of the Tky Theatre, the performances of Ichikawa
Danshir II as Saiz and Nakamura Kangor XII as Manzai were very popular though
it is now considered that the production of this Noriabune belonged more to Morita
Kanya XII and Ichikawa Ennosuke I.
Kanya and Ennosuke played their part in this when they went to the bathhouse
where they would regularly engage in conversation. Ennosuke and Kanya chatted
"Hey; my dad was really clever wasnt he!"
"Kangor is aging so much that he looks over a hundred years old"
"Now that the two of them have become grandfathers theyve finished with dance
productions"
"They cant stomach old age"
Ennosuke nodding in approval "If the truth be known" "my father is no longer
interesting"
There they were together when Danshir appeared out of the bath
"Hey! That really is undeniably inexcusable! Isnt it!"
The two of them just wanted to forget the conversation theyd had. Because of the
thick steam they hadnt realised that Danshir had been in the bath with them.

Translators note: This would probably have been around 1896 when Ennosuke and
Kangor performed together in a revival of Kashirage Ise Monogatari under the title
of Noriabune Eh Manzai at the Harukiza Theatre.
Continuing with Manzai and Saiz was awkward as it required a tsjin (a man about
town of urban Japan). The tsjin who was needed would have to be an
extraordinarily distinctive character. He would need to be a dilettante, have
superficial knowledge, be a skilled fraudster, and be saucily flippant all contrasting
qualities. Noriabunes tsjin would have to be a nimaime (handsome actor) yet
someone who would still be able to retain the feel and form of being a dilettante. It
was inadequate. The Sharebon novelette about life in the pleasure quarters tells of a
skilled fraudster who was saucily flippant with it. The Springtime spectacle of
Noriabune was a complete caricature of this.
The celebration that took place at the time when support pillars were raised in the
construction of a house was called Hashidate (pillar raising). Recently this would take
place at the setting up of the framework of a house. For good luck and to ward off evil
spirits the twelve pillars at the core of the house would be spaced appropriately (used
in the moya, the central core, in traditional Japanese house construction) along with
an event when there would be a recital of the written invocation.
This was spoken by Manzai during Hashidate (pillar raising), at least until the Great
Earthquake Disaster of 1923. Afterwards this began to appear in the neighbourhoods.
After the Great Earthquake Disaster it could be seen happening quite a lot. Though
this year, especially, it was noticed that the previously habitual figure of Manzai
wasnt seen or heard reciting to the same degree.
Manzai came from the Owari and Mikawa Regions of the Kant (eastern part of
Japan). This Manzai was referred to as the Mikawa Manzai. In the olden days there
was a travelling Manzai character who came from two villages of Hashio in the
Kubota Domain of Yamato Province in the Keihan (Kyto-saka) Region who was
called Yamato Manzai. There were such Taiy san (aka Manzai) who were referred
to as Tsurudaiy who wore Daimon (type of mens wide sleeved kimono with family
crest) on which was the crest of a Crane. It is said that there is a Kant expression
which says that Manzai ya kubi no mijika* ki Tsurudaiy (Tsurudaiy is Manzai with
the personality of a spirited adolescent)
* kubi no mijika () short-necked - adolescent
The stand-up Saiz wore a peculiar daikoku-zukin flattened cap which was in the
form of a folded and black lacquered Samurai Eboshi. The actor playing the
supporting role changed. In the Edo Era the established Saiz-Ichi Fair* took place
on the fourth day of the twelfth month. From the Mikawa Region many Manzai
appeared at the Saiz-Ichi Fair in order to hire a suitable Saiz from among the many
people from the Kazusa and Shimsa Provinces (along the Tkaid Road). The most
skilful who were at the event were preferred.
* This took place between the Nihonbashi Bridge and the Edobashi Bridge. The
Manzai could find a Saizo who also acted as a guide to life in Edo
However todays so called top class Manzai are different from the Manzai of the
olden days when they really were top class Manzai. The Mikawa Manzai door to door
comedy duo unfortunately went into decline along with their appearances.
Yours sincerely.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manzai