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[Kanagawa traditional culture children's calendar] Ask Kotsuru Takarai! Kodan and the charm of Kanagawa and Yokohama

【かながわ伝統文化こども歳時記】宝井琴鶴さんに聞く!講談と神奈川・横浜の魅力

On February 18, 2024, the ``Reiwa 5 Kanagawa Traditional Culture Children's Seasonal Festival'' was held, which introduced the performing arts and games that have been passed down in Kanagawa Prefecture and other parts of Japan. This time, we spoke to Kotsuru Takarai V, a storyteller from Yokohama who served as a lecturer at the children's workshop.
Top image provided by Kotsuru Takarai the fifth

A shy girl becomes a storyteller

This year, the event will be held at the Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center, introducing the charm of traditional performing arts and folklore games from six different perspectives in five areas within the facility. Mr. Kotsuru was assigned to conduct a storytelling workshop on ``Discover and Experience! Traditional Japanese Performing Arts.''


“2020 Kanagawa Traditional Culture Children’s Seasonal” Kodan Workshop_Okeiko (Courtesy of Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center)

-This was a storytelling workshop following on from last year.

Kotozuru : This year, five boys and girls from 4th to 6th grade of elementary school participated. It was the first time for all of them to give a story, but they all decided to read and complete one piece of work. After three rounds of training, we took on the challenge of presenting our results.

-Last time's theme was "Soga Brothers" after the venue Odawara, but what about this time?

Kotsuru: I wrote the script based on the original story ``Odoriba no Yurai'' by my teacher Takarai Kinsei. Yose usually lasts 30 minutes, but this time it was shorter at 10 minutes. Titled "Yokohama Legend: Origin of Odoriba," this is a story about the cat memorial tower near Odoriba Station on the Yokohama Municipal Subway Blue Line.

-The participants were elementary school students in Yokohama, just like Kotsuru when he was a child.

Kotsuru : Yes, but I may have been more quiet and shy than you guys (lol). However, I like reading and have been praised for reading out loud in Japanese, so I was confident in my efforts.

-I'm also curious about your encounter with Kodan.

Kotozuru 's parents loved storytelling, and he was close to his teacher, Kotohoshi. When I became a junior high school student, I wanted to learn how to read aloud, so I looked for a classroom, but I couldn't find one. Then I was advised to try Kodan, so I joined Takarai Kodan Shuraba Juku. Although I was by far the youngest at the cram school, I wanted to hone my skill at reading aloud and express myself in some way, so I studied alongside adults.

―After that, did you easily move into storytelling?

Kotsuru : No, I went to university and got a job at an agricultural editorial department. I loved reading and writing, so I thought I could become an editorial writer. However, in reality, I worked as a salesperson, visiting farmers all over the country to introduce and sell agricultural books. During this time, he realized the appeal of storytelling, which he had been doing as a hobby, and said, ``With storytelling, I can create my own stories and read them out loud.'' Once again, I applied to become an apprentice to my master, Kotosei.


On April 1, 2006, he became a disciple of Takarai Kotosei and became Takarai Kotkan (provided by Takarai Kotsuru V)

Two conversation skills you can learn through lectures

Mr. Kotsuru became an introductory wrestler and after training under the belt, he was promoted to the second stage on June 1, 2010, and was promoted to the shinuchi on October 14, 2019. We have over 150 topics ranging from classics to new works.


“Hyakka Ryoran Kodan Festival” August 8, 2023 National Entertainment Center (Photo: Mori Matsuo / Provided by: Takarai Kotsuru V)

―It has been four years since you took over the famous Takarai Kotsuru Godaime, which was revived for the first time in 32 years, and how do you feel about the appeal of storytelling?

Based on my experience in holding story-telling workshops for children, which I have been doing for about 18 years since I started Kotsuru Takarai-ha, I would like to recommend it for ``word play'' for children from around 3 years old. It's fun to hit the shakudai with a paper fan and make sounds while keeping in tune. Kodanshi are also scriptwriters who write their own scripts and newscasters who tell stories. I believe that your communication skills in public will improve as you hone your ``ability to communicate'' and ``performance ability.''

-The more you know about Kodanshi, the more profound it is.

Kotsuru's roles and subjects are wide-ranging. Kodan has a history of 500 years, and there are approximately 5,000 performances. Kodanshi are masters of telling lies as if they were the truth through skillful story-telling, using historical facts from the Heian period, historical figures, foreign history, the latest news, novels, etc., in interesting arrangements.


Kotsuru Takarai V’s new work “Nightingale, the Angel of Crimea” (Source: YouTube “Kotsuru Takarai Home Waiting Talk”)

Conveying the charm of Kanagawa by making use of tradition

Kotsuru often talks about Kanagawa Prefecture, such as Enoshima, Kamakura, and the Miura Peninsula. He has a special fondness for the city of Yokohama, where he was born and raised, and says he feels it has a multifaceted charm.


“Kodan Botanical” July 1, 2022 Chikuyotei (Photo: Mori Matsuo/Provided by: Takarai Kotsuru V)

-What does your hometown, Yokohama, mean to you, Kotsuru?

Not only is it stylish as a cross-cultural spot in Kotsuru Port Town, but it also has a deep impression of being a downtown area and a place where working people gather. I think it is a city that deserves attention historically. Kanagawa Prefecture, including Yokohama, has many ancient customs and legends. I also want to dig up these traditions over the long term.

- “Takarai Kotsuru Reading Kanagawa (9th series)” is coming up on June 23rd.

Kotsuru This time's performance is "Urashima Taro." I was inspired by the fact that one of the Urashima Taro legends that exists all over the country also exists in Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama City. Please look forward to seeing what the script will be like.

After completing the storytelling workshop


“FY2020 Kanagawa Traditional Culture Children’s Seasonal” Kodan Workshop_Results Presentation (Courtesy of Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center)

-This year's Children's Saijiki ended on a high note. Lastly, please give a few words to the children who participated in the storytelling workshop.

Kotsuru: First of all, thank you for participating. I'm glad we were able to encourage each other while exchanging opinions in preparation for the results presentation. Cherish your encounter with this lecture! Please come and listen to a live lecture.


“FY2020 Kanagawa Traditional Culture Children’s Seasonal” Kodan Workshop_Teacher’s model talk (Courtesy of Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center)

In 2024, Kotsuru wants to work hard to solidify his foundation and look for new topics. Along with next year's "Children's Saijiki," we are also looking forward to a new story related to Kanagawa Prefecture.

Text/Mai Shimura (editor writer)

《Fifth Takarai Kotsuru》

Storyteller. Shinuchi belongs to Kodan Kyokai. Born in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
He was exposed to storytelling from an early age, and when he became a junior high school student, he began attending Takarai Kodan Shuraba Juku. On April 1, 2006, he became a disciple of Takarai Kotosei and became Takarai Kotokan. On June 1, 2010, he was promoted to Nitsume, and on October 14, 2019, he was promoted to Shinuchi and assumed the name Kotsuru Takarai.

Official link site: here
Performance information: Click here

・May 11, 2024 (Sat) 14:00 "Kanagawa Hanakoza" Yokohama West Public Hall Inquiry 090-2747-4461 (Sato)
・Sunday, June 23, 2024 14:00 "Takarai Kotsuru Reading Kanagawa" Yokohama Nigiwai-za Noge Petri Yokohama Nigiwai-za ticket phone number 045-231-2515

《FY2020 Kanagawa Traditional Culture Children's Seasonal Calendar》 *Ended

・Date and time: February 18, 2024 (Sunday) 10:30-16:00
・Venue Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center [9-1 Momijigaoka, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture]
・Official link site: Click here

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